If you keep tabs on Miami’s food scene, then you’ve probably dined at some of Chef Nivan Patel’s restaurants. You’ve dunked crispy rotis into a palette of colorful chutneys and slurped aromatic curries at Ghee, all imaginative expressions of the dishes Chef Patel grew up with. You’ve island hopped through the menu at Mamey, packing away Caribbean, Polynesian and South Asian flavors as you bite into jerk spiced pork belly or lemongrass glazed grouper, all amalgamations from Chef’s professional training and travels. But what you may not have done is meander down the hall from Mamey to Orno, where Chef Patel and his staff light up the wood fired oven early in the AM for what we’re proclaiming is the best brunch in Miami this season.
To start, there’s the $75 bottomless Moet package, and while it might be what catches your attention, it’s surely not what you’ll remember. Truly the food – and cocktails – are where it’s at. We eased into the day with the 75 Apples, a vodka-based spritz with rosemary and a delicate topping of cava. The Pink Delorean is also a light and refreshing gin-based choice for those who aren’t into bubbly drinks, with manzanilla sherry, watermelon, lime and mint.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with the classics: Orno’s Bloody Mary was so fresh you may not be wrong in assuming the tomato juice was squeezed from Rancho Patel’s heirlooms. Their Mo’garita is a spicy marg that’ll kick start your morning into high gear, and their version of an espresso martini, La Roma, is a near perfect hazelnut and mezcal riff that’s served in an arresting goblet and is a nice way to cap out the entire experience. But as brunch eases into dessert, here’s a pro tip for Chat Chow readers: Order the Bananas in Havana, which is new on the menu. Similar in texture to a grasshopper, this cocktail is so creamy you won’t realize it’s whipped up with a boozy trinity of Havana Club rum, Montenegro amaro and absinthe.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, because breakfast must come before dessert. Our first bite was the Housemade Pastrami Benedict, a latka topped with thick pastrami slices and a lava flow of hollandaise sauce. Never had we ever had a more perfect latke. It was crispy on the outside but cushiony and flavorful on the inside; a most comforting dish to come back to again and again. We also had the Chilaquiles, which were made with fresh ingredients from Rancho Patel. They, like the House Smoked Bacon Pizza, are safe bets for a large table, and will keep even the pickiest eaters happy as a clam.
Speaking of shellfish, we carried on with a half dozen oysters. That day’s import featured Malpeque Oysters from Canada that were supple and, dare we say, seductive. Then came the toasts. For all the dill-forward sauce and chili oil spilling over Orno’s Maine Lobster Toast, the bold flavors of the crustacean still came through, keeping things delicious and light. The Foie Gras French Toast, on the other hand, was as rich as it sounds. Picture a brioche bun drenched in Grand Marnier, topped with a fatty slice of foie on one side and fresh berries and granola on the other. It was incredible.
If it sounds like we over ordered, maybe we did. Still, we made room for dessert! There was the Sticky Bun, a cinnamony sweet dough topped with pecans fresh vanilla bean ice cream. Then there was the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Sundae. It’s like a 90s childhood, but lux. There’s ice cream. There’s a blondie. There’s “the taste you can see.” There’s also a maple caramel drizzle, cherries, and a swirl of chantilly cream to top it all off.
Wherein Ghee and Mamey capture all of the chapters in Chef Patel’s journey in scoring that Michelin Bib Gourmand, Orno isn’t restricted to a specific style of cuisine but is instead entirely driven by creativity, the season’s bounty – and whatever you can fit into a wood fired oven. Orno is Chef Patel unbound.