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Whisk- still whipping up creative Southern fare

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Whisk Restaurant

Rating:
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When diners visit Whisk for lunch, they need to know three things going in.

Number one: Parking is a nightmare. Number two: It will be crowded and noisy. Number three: You may end up sitting at a table with strangers, not one of the Miami Dining Examiner’s favorite things.

However, if diners can forgive these sins, they will be rewarded with hunks of heavenly corn bread dripping with scallion honey butter, divine shrimp and grits gilded with cremini mushrooms and bacon, and crunchy fried green tomatoes, served with cool buttermilk dressing. And that’s just some of the appetizer section items. Other recommended appetizers include the bacon wrapped dates stuffed with gorganzola ($7.95) and the roasted corn and parmesan risotto fritters with red pepper coulis ($9.95).

The Miami Dining Examiner first visited Whisk at its original location, a tiny 650 square foot spot in a strip mall off LeJeune and was impressed with the quality and bold tastes of the food that was prepared. Whisk was started by executive chef Brendan Connor, who began cooking in Charleston, South Carolina and his sister Kristin Connor, who is now a managing partner.

Whisk pays homage to Connor’s deep south roots, with their southern food with a twist. Organic and fresh ingredients are used at Whisk; salad dressings are made fresh daily.

While its primary culinary influence is Southern, Whisk also does awesome Asian influenced dishes (such as spicy seared beef with garlic chili coconut sauce, jasmine rice and sautéed spinach for $19.95) and Mexican. The Whisk pulled pork burritos are served with jasmine rice, black beans, pico de galo and avocado for $12.95.

Whisk is not the place to go for an intimate lunch or dinner. It is bustling, energetic and fun. Many birthdays and celebrations take place here and there are daily specials as well. On Fridays they offer a mammoth burger as a special, for those willing to throw caution (and cholesterol counts) to the wind. Although the Miami Dining Examiner has never eaten this fabled burger, she recently ran into a friend who said it was great. Her dining companion had gotten the tuna melt- grilled tuna with Havarti cheese and bacon ($8.95) and also enjoyed it.

The food here is not exactly low calorie and they tend to heavily salt and go for maximum flavor. A Miami Dining Examiner reader recently ate at Whisk and complained that they did not cater to their friend’s special dietary needs (no salt or sauces), despite being the first diners seated for lunch, so Whisk probably isn't the place to come for those on a restricted diet.

Diners may be seated at the communal wooden table abutting the open kitchen, where patrons can watch their meals being prepared. There’s also seating available at the bar, which on some days, is the only seating available. Whisk tends to get packed and diners are not seated until their whole party is present and accounted for.

On a recent visit, the Miami Dining Examiner and her companions tried the roasted corn and parmesan risotto fritters with red pepper coulis to be shared as an appetizer. They were delicious- crunchy on the outside, creamy inside and full of flavor.

A vegetarian in our party ordered the pimento cheese and fried green tomato sandwich with arugula ($8.95) and really enjoyed it. The roasted turkey sandwich with brie cheese, cranberry mayo, tomato and arugula was a large sandwich whose rich flavors were enjoyed. The sandwiches come on multi grain or white bread and avocado, bacon and cheese can be added for an upcharge.

Other entrees ordered were the shrimp and grits and fried chicken. The shrimp and grits is available as an appetizer or entrée and features cremini mushrooms, bacon and scallions. It’s really good and, for this particular diner, a repeat order. The fried chicken breast comes with smashed potatoes, bacon gravy and honey glazed green beans. It isn’t cheap ($18.95), but was a large portion that was delicious.

Whisk began as a catering company that opened a small restaurant. They’ve branched out and whipped up business into a very popular hot spot; they still cater and offer gourmet brown bag lunches and sandwiches platters to take away.

On a recent Friday afternoon, the Miami Dining Examiner ordered the braised beet and burratta salad ($13.95) to be picked up. She enjoyed the arugula on the bottom with shallots and glazed walnuts accenting the beet and burratta salad. She appreciated that the lemon poppy seed vinaigrette dressing came on the side (as all their dressings do). The presentation wasn’t as nice as it would have been if served in house (it came in a clear plastic box) but the upside was she was able to enjoy it in the peace and quiet of her own home and sit at a table by herself.

Whisk

7382 S.W. 56 Avenue

South Miami, FL 33143

786 268-8350

www.whiskgourmet.com

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