As I type this I’m still really happy and excited from my dinner at The Federal last night- a food bliss of sorts that’s continued into today (and I don’t use bliss casually).
I had heard about the Federal somewhere, possibly in a review, and always wondered why I never notice it since I drive up Biscayne quite often. I convinced some of my friends to check it out for dinner and they definitely were thanking me after. It’s on Biscayne Blvd just before 54th Ave in the same complex as Dunkin Doughnuts, which is probably why I hadn’t noticed it before. Despite not being a separate building it’s a really beautiful restaurant with a nice outdoor patio bordered by small planters with tomatoes and other vegetables (I forgot to ask them if they use them in their food). Inside is a really cool bar area covered in a thatch roof and a lot of cool wine cases and empty wine bottles decorating the walls. I wish I would had remembered to take some pictures of the physical restaurant, but I did get pictures of the most important part- the food!
We sat outside, which is why living in Miami and it being 80 degrees in March is so awesome, and it was a great experience. A lot of outdoor restaurants in South Beach and Brickell are quite loud- either in their music or atmosphere, but at The Federal it was very relaxing and enjoyable. We went for an early dinner and it wasn’t too crowded then but it got very packed towards the end of our meal, but it still was a really enjoyable place to eat and drink and visit. Our waiter described their food as Modern American with a twist. What I loved about the Federal was the wholesome and flavorful food with quality and gourmet ingredients. They have an extensive wine list (was excited to see and get some Oregon Pinot Gris!) and a decent amount of beers, several varieties of which my friends really enjoyed, like the Sweaty Betty pale ale.
We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to get since everything looked so good. Our server was awesome with recommendations and answering questions. For starters we ended up going with the homefries and the BBQ pig wings. The homefries, which were actual thin fries instead of the chunks of potatoes I usually associate with homefries, came with a fried egg on top and homemade ketchup on the side. The fried egg added some great flavor to the fries and the homemade ketchup was delicious- both my friend and I commented on what it was like to have real ketchup for the first time in a long time. The pig wings were juicy and tender and the sauce was a great combination of a nice tangy kick and some sweetness.
Choosing the entrees was difficult because between the three of us several options were floating around- the steak, the wild hog sausage, the main chicken dish (I believe stuffed with cornbred and sausage), a seafood stew, the chicken and biscuits with sweetbread, and short rib Wellington pot pie. At one point all three of us wanted to get the wild hog sausage, due to how good it sounded and it being one of our waiter’s recommendation (along with the steak and Wellington), but we decided correctly to order something different each. I got the steak, while one of my friends got the short rib Wellington pot pie and the other got the wild hog sausage with whipped potatoes. My steak was very tender and juicy with some great spices that made the flavor really stand out, even better was eating the part of it that was covered in a dollop of some kind of butter. My friend loved the Wellington pot pie and said it was flaky and had a delicious broth. We all took bites of the wild hog sausage and it was very flavorful- a theme for everything we had at the Federal- and was nice to try something different. All of us multiple times throughout our meal did the loud, content, and blissful sighs of eating delicious foods and couldn’t help but repeat often about how good it was.
Shockingly we rallied for dessert (and we just knew we couldn’t pass up the chance to see what they offered). There was a flourless chocolate cake “mixture” that I asked if it was gluten-free. Unfortunately it isn’t but the waiter told me that the strawberry cheesecake comes without a crust (just a graham cracker on the side), so I was really excited to try that. I got that, while my friends split the flourless chocolate “pot” (I believe the mixture was called). The cheesecake came in a small dish and was “exqusite” (to pull a word I rarely use, but I think describes it pretty accurately). You could really taste the fresh and pure ingredients in it and I was really glad it was prepared without a crust (instead of having to scrap the cheesecake top off a crust like I have to riskily do most times). The chocolate pot was a mixture of flourless chocolate cake, whip cream, and chocolate pudding and my friends really enjoyed it.
The service at the restaurant was really awesome. Our waiter, along with the numerous other wait staff that were always around, were very attentive about our drinks and bringing us our food, as well as replacing our silverware and plates, and friendly. I also felt that they were really excited and proud of the food they were serving. The chef/owner came out at one point at the request of the table next to us and was describing for them her vision/concept. The prices are typical Miami for a fine restaurant (starters/small plates in the teens and entrees in the $20s), but it was really worth it relative to the experience and the quality of food!
It was such an incredible food experience I could not wait to write this blog, as well as to tell everyone to check it out and to return again! My friends really want to try the biscuits and gravy, as well as the cheesy biscuits (which one of the waiters said will change your life and I do not doubt him!), and I’m really excited to go back and try to find some other gluten-free items on the menu. The menu changes often, but I would be quite happy to taste the same things again. I strongly recommend you go discover a new favorite at The Federal!
UPDATE: The other weekend (in May 2013) I took some friends visiting Miami and we had another delicious feast at the Federal. I unfortunately couldn’t eat the “highlight” of the meal- the macaroni and cheese, but it looked and smelled amazing and my friends loved it so much they got a second order! Oh how bad I wish I could eat it!
To start off we got an order of the homefries again, a ham and cheese board, and my friends got a crab cake. The ham and cheese board (the type of ham and cheese rotates) was small but very delicious. The ham was flavorful and moist and was complemented by the cheese that had a really sharp flavor (also came with bread on the side). My friends also raved about the crab cake!
For our main meals I got the pork chops, one set of friends split the Federal steak, and the another pair split the roast toasty chicken. When it comes to pork like pork chops and pork loin I’m a moderate fan in general (a die-hard bacon and salami/pepperoni fan though), but these were really delicious. Moist, tender, and with a lot of pork flavor. It came with apple shavings, Brussels sprouts, and tiny pieces of sausage. The apple slices were sweet and had great flavor from the pork and sausage. We all loved the Brussels sprouts (my friends kept wanting more!) and the sausage was amazing with a kick! I wish I could have ordered a plate of just the sausage! My friends enjoyed the steak (just like I did on my first visit) and the others liked the chicken, which came with creamed kale on the side. Those that tried my pork chops thought they were the best though. I pride myself on making great choices and picking the Federal is one of my great choices! The Federal continues to have amazing creative dishes with tons of different flavors and continues to be a top Miami favorite for me!
The Federal (5132 Biscayne Blvd Miami, FL)