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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – While Excecutive Chef Nicole Votano tastes the new shipment of fresh vegetables coming in, owner David Foulquier arranges the wines being served at his trendy new spot “Fooq’s” in the Miami’s Arts and Entertainment District in Miami.

Located at 10th street and North Miami Avenue, it’s just blocks from the American Airlines Arena and The Adrienne Arsht Center, yet a bit off the beaten path.

And for Folquier, who grew up in New York City, it’s a hidden gem of a neighborhood.

“I grew up in early 2000 in New York in Chelsea, and the meat packing district was popping off then,” said Foulquier. “It had this kind of similar vibe of 20s style building with industrial quality. Here, at the end of the day we’re in restaurant row so this is where all the restaurants buy their supplies.”

The restaurant is small and quaint, with a home away from home design and did we mention popular?

It’s booked for lunch and dinner daily.

“We spent a lot of time with attention to detail,” said Foulquier. “We went overboard with my home in New York and shipped stuff here, pulled stuff out of my apartment [and] my grandparents [apartment].”

Chef Votano is classically trained and has worked in kitchens all around the world which is why Foulquier, who is half French, half Persian, was attracted to her style of cooking.

“I describe Nicole as a rustic, true to the ingredients chef, that’s classically trained in French cooking,” he said

“She makes really beautiful, homey, comforting food that makes you feel good.”

“My style isn’t from one place,” said Votano. “I’ve traveled so much so I get to showcase all the things I know.”

The eclectic menu is evident in CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo’s tasting dishes.

We begin with the shaved summer crisp vegetable salad. Everything is sliced on a mandolin for thinness. There’s no lettuce, just great vegetables, slivered almonds on top with a lemon vinaigrette dressing.

“This is an August hot day perfect summer salad,” Petrillo said after tasting.

Next, a Moroccan Garbanzo Bowl with garbanzo beans, yogurt, cucumbers and a basmati brown rice.

“I love this and bowls are the new black! This has so much flavor with the beans. It’s a delicious meal,” Petrillo said.

And finally, ‘Brisket Bon Mi’, a play on traditional Vietnamese Bon Mi, this time with a Jewish influence with caramelized brisket aioli, pickled daikon, carrots and mint on a crusty baguette.

“The meat is super sweet and tender and then there’s an Asian taste on top and then a French crunchy baguette. This is really truly a special sandwich,” said Petrillo.

Fooqs is open six days a week, Tuesday through Saturday.

For more info, go to www.fooqsmiami.com.

Lisa Petrillo

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