If you’re looking for a “vegetarian friendly” place in the Miami Beach area, check out “Mama Joon,” (2216 Park Avenue), at the base of the Life House Hotel.
According to the restaurant’s website, it’s a “refreshingly inviting, communal and upbeat restaurant, bar & cafe, set on the Collins Canal featuring seasonally simple veg-forward Mediterranean homestyle cuisine with influences from Lebanon, Southern Italy, and Greece.”
Despite enjoying the atmosphere and the service, our dishes here were in the “average” range, largely because of pricing and portion issues. (So, if you keep your expectations in check, you can still have a pleasant time.)
A case in point was the “Halloumi, Green Chickpea Flatbread — with seasonal herb salad ($14).
For those of you who haven’t tried this particular cheese, it’s a mix of goat’s and sheep’s milk (also sometimes cow’s), that is not only high in fat and salt, but protein as well. (Its texture is usually said to be akin to mozzarella or a thick feta.)
While some refer to halloumi as the “marshmallow of cheeses,” we beg to differ. We often find it far from soft, malleable or sweet, and are of the view that it often has a thick, “meaty” texture, that can taste like you’re eating chicken — which depending on your perspective, could be either good or bad.
Even though the green chickpea and flatbread worked well together, the carnivores in our midst didn’t know what to make of the cheese’s “rubbery chewiness” and deducted some significant points; yielding this dish a “C+.”
I thought the “meatheads” were being somewhat harsh, that vegetarians would appreciate this dish, and scored it closer to a “B-.” (Wasn’t too keen on the $14 ask, and thought it could have used a more substantive “salad.”)
All that bickering aside, Mama Joon is worth a try when you’re next in the area ....
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Follow Lucas on Instagram: @lucasaferrara