New Year, New Chef @ The Vagabond Kitchen & Bar


Photo courtesy of Vagabond Kitchen & Bar’s website

The word Vagabond is defined as a person that wanders from place to place. Since 1953 that Vagabond Hotel and its lounge area opened its doors that’s all they ever welcomed. Wanderers from all over the world like the famous Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and many others made a home away from home at our very own Vagabond Miami. It has been said that whenever they showed up, impromptu shows were held.  Can you imagine sipping on a cocktail while Frank Sinatra organically sang his heart out?! From the Miami bright lights and chill environment that Vagabond once held in the 50’s, lets now fast-forward to 2018. Everything still remains the same just upgraded. The original neon lights outside still stand but refurbished for a newer look, the furniture inside the lounge and bright colours take you back to the good old days. But what about the impromptu performers? Well, Vagabond Kitchen & Bar has thought of it all … Friday’s they have live jazz music to relive those times when dinner once came with a soundtrack. And just when you thought that this place couldn’t get any better, here comes brand new Head Chef Abel Veulens making Vagabond Kitchen & Bar’s menu better, one dish at a time.

Chef Abel Veulens comes with 10 years of experience under his belt. He has worked his way up from Chef de Partie, a top catering company, to then Sous Chef at 1 Hotel South Beach’s Beachcraft Restaurant, to now being the Head Chef at Vagabond. In his own words as he passed me an order of truffle fries, “cooking is art”. I’d have to agree, as you can give two people the same dish to cook and as different artists they will make it their own. That is what Head Chef Veulens is bringing to Vagabond. The menu remains the same with just minor tweaks (which I will discuss in a bit). So grab a bib, have your phones next to you because I guarantee by the time you finish reading this dinner review you’ll be drooling and ready to make your dinner reservation at Vagabond!


Head Chef Abel Veulens handing me over his delicious truffle fries.


Pretty drinks that are Instagram worthy. My lychee martini was not on the menu but because they have a full bar (and carry fresh lychee) Gio the bartender said he can “make me whatever my heart desires” and so he did.

I wanted to try a little bit of everything so I went a little wild on the small plates section. From left to right: potato tostones, brussels sprouts, spring salad.

Potato Tostones: something different with the potatos as tostones, but if you’re from Miami the word tostone just resonates with you and you have to try it! It was exactly as you can picture, instead of using plantains as the traditional tostones, potatoes were used. Chimichurri was laid all over these bad boys which made this dish nontraditional (because of the potatoes) but yet still so Miami.

Brussels Sprouts: these were already on the old menu but Chef Veulens added his touch to it. Previous to him I felt that these brussels were missing some kind of glaze and crunch. This time around the brussels were pure perfection with crispy shallots added while the outside was lightly crisped yet moist and filled with flavor on the inside.

Spring Salad: so I know salads sometimes can sound lame. I like getting some leafy greens on the side of explosive dishes like the last two I had so I had to go for one! This spring salad was pretty simple, something you can make at home; leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots but then plot twist… Veulens Mustard Shallot Vinaigrette. Definitely something I’d keep coming back for!

Anyone that knows me, knows how much of a sucker I am for octopus. Haha! Sucker and Octopus; I just saw what I did there unintentionally!

Grilled Octopus: Before Chef Veulens became a part of the Vagabond family, this dish was good but the octopus was literally an appetizer that I for one couldn’t share because the tentacles were too skinny. This dish is filled with flavors now starting with two fat tentacles grilled to perfection on the outside while the white meat on the inside is as soft and chewy as you can imagine! The tentacles lay on a bed of olive puree confit fingerling potatoes and tomatoes and chili oil. Now I can say (as an always hungry girl) I feel good about sharing this dish with someone I love. And I did that night!

It appears that I was on a SEAfood diet this night because it was seafood heaven as you can tell. This was Vagabond’s nightly special which included scallops.

Diver Scallop Special: this dish consisted of three thick pan seared scallops with a beet horseradish creme fraiche. The perfect dish to end the evening with. It felt like I was eating a salad but without a full bed of greens. The beets were an amazing addition to this dish.

*this dish was also paired with the truffle fries that you saw Head Chef Veulens handing me on the above photo.

Aside from the artistic and very passionate Head Chef Veulens I must applaud owner Fabien Chalard and Julien Geliot co-owners and men behind the scenes of Vagabond Kitchen & Bar’s growing success. Both men are vagabonds themselves. French men who run another restaurant in France now migrated to Miami and trying to rekindle Miami’s historic roots. From the food taking you to different places of the world yet keeping it Miami, having every employee be from different places of the world as well, bringing back and keeping the old traditions that Vagabond was once known for – they’re doing an amazing job! Also, the environment is charming but laid back. The second you walk in, you feel like nothing else matters but the good times that lie ahead inside this retro yet modern kitchen & bar. Perhaps, the good vibes from Sinatra and friends still remain here… But I am certain that those vibes are being amplified everyday with the beautiful people that work here and vagabonds that make up Miami, locals & tourists alike.

VAGABOND LOGO Instagram | Website

Vagabond Kitchen & Bar: 7301 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33138; (305) 409-5635

Dinner Tues. – Sun. 5:00 P.M. until 11:00 P.M.

Brunch on Sundays from 11:00 A.M. until 3:30 P.M.



@littlemariii | #EatingWithLittleMariii

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