Many restaurants force guests to make a choice between innovative, unusual food and more comfortable, predictable options.
Station 5 Table and Bar discards this tradition, making innovation accessible and charming. This restaurant is a nearby option for students looking for a more sophisticated evening.
The decor immediately puts you at ease. Although spaces are slightly small, the dark restaurant manages to stay cozy.
A mixture of light and dark woods with pressed, tin ceilings, the style evokes an upscale version of an old family restaurant. This family vibe is enhanced by charming knick-knacks and family photos adorning the shelves. The biggest triumph of the decor, though, is the blown glass bulbs filled with tea lights that adorn the walls to provide a soft glow. It’s romantic, intimate and perfect for a date night.
The menu is American, but most dishes have a new Latin flare. Station 5 excels in taking traditional dishes and making them sparkle with new light.
The ceviche dazzles with its preparation in pineapple juice and aji amarillo. Guacamole is a house specialty and doesn’t disappoint, especially with smoked bacon and garlic; which was good enough to finish with forks and spoons.
Dates stuffed with chicken and queso blanco, and wrapped in bacon and smothered in a smoky “jerk jam” were like an idealized version of the ‘50s hors-d’oeuvre classic rumaki. Rich, sweet, salty and plump, they seemed to exemplify the restaurant’s quality and philosophy.
The highlight of the evening, however, came in the form of the tacos made with slow-braised short ribs, crispy fried Brussels sprouts and whimsically topped with Cheetos. Dripping with juices, rich and savory, they were rightly advertised as the signature dish.
Portions are mostly tapas-sized, although there are a selection of larger entrees big enough to split. Taco orders are large enough for an individual entree, at three to an order.
Desserts continued Station 5’s philosophy of simple but still inventive. The bread pudding with a heavenly rum raisin sauce made with golden raisins excelled, and the delicious artisan bread of Coral Gables’ own Zak the Baker, who has made appearances at the University of Miami’s weekly farmers market.
Service was also impeccable. Friendly when engaged, yet non-intrusive, it was highly professional.
Food, ordered all at once, was served in a deliberate sequence, dishes growing in intensity of flavor and richness as the meal went on, as not to overpower a later dish.
Warm and friendly, cozy and romantic, stylish and elegant all at once, Station 5 is sure to become one of Coral Gables’ – and UM students’ – most beloved restaurants. And with reasonable prices, it may cement itself as a local classic.
Ideal for dates, or just a “treat yourself” night with friends, Station 5 is a triumph.
Station 5 is located at 5845 Sunset Drive, South Miami, Fla. 33143.