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Lou's Beer Garden's a Hip, Hidden Gem; Brickell Irish Pub Great For Boozing

"Lou's Beer Garden is not what it seems," writes Victoria Pesce Eliott. "Despite the name this is no bratwurst-and-brew joint filled with the sounds of an oompah band. And, to be honest, though it dubs itself "Miami's first gastro-pub'' that's also a bit optimistic. Still, for sheer hipness, low-cost menu and energy, this is a gotta-love-it hidden gem." Chef/owner Luis "Lou" Ramirez "relies on lots of seasoning, spices and fresh herbs to go with all the brewskis." Although LBG "is ringed by a sliver of greenery, the term “garden” is stretching things." "A few too many drafts, and someone could topple into the shallow blue water." But about that food.

More likes than dislikes (score!). The good: the beer, the wine, the staff, "Consistently satisfying cracker-thin pizzas," "tasty, juicy burgers," "delicious, satisfyingly crisp and fresh, albeit not entirely authentic Greek salad," "nicely flat, pressed sardines," "good and crispy barbecued chciken wings," "irresistible hand-cut Belgian-style fries," and "creamy, thick shrimp bisque." The not so good? Pulled pork sandwich "on a nice, puffy, toasted bun that relied way too much on sugar," "a skimpy skewer of angry shrimp so aggressively seasoned that a single bite can obliterate a palate for the rest of the night," and "no dessert." Verdict? Two stars. Bottom line: "Ramirez and his young crew create a cool vibe with some tasty food and a jamming soundtrack that would lure me back anytime." []

Lee Klein isn't big on St. Patty's Day but he loves a good Irish pub. "Being around thousands of drinks can feel threatening, but camaraderie with just a few is fun," Klein says. Brickell Irish Pub's "cavernous dining room almost looks like a real pub that has been around a long time . . . Great pains were apparently taken to make the place seem genuinely aged." After going through the beer selection and cocktails, Klein gets to the point. "We've skirted the issue long enough: The food here isn't especially praiseworthy." Especially the fish dip, which Klein says to avoid. "It tasted mainly of the cream cheese, Tabasco, lemon, and dill base, with an off-flavor of smoked white fish maliciously lingering in the background." Sliders weren't bad, boasting "a nice chargrilled flavor," but the fish and chips--"two dark, thick, crunchy antennae of cod coated in amber beer batter"--were "rising from a pile of thin, frozen-type fries." A lamb burger with feta cheese was "dry, dry, dry," and "two stalwarts of Irish pub fare--"sheppard's pie" and Irish stew--were solid if not sensational." The Guinness-braised short ribs "that bobbed in the dark, thin Irish stew were luscious, but the gravy-ish base and sparse scattering of carrots, potatoes, and celery led a guest at our table to surmise that it might be Irish food as interpreted by a Hispanic Miami cook." Service is "amateurish, but prices are forgiving." That said, Klein "probably won't make Brickell Irish pub a regular stopver for dinner." [MNT]

Lou's Beer Garden

7337 Harding Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33141 305 704 7879