Andrew Gilbert, chef-owner of The Seven Dials in Coral Gables, gave a specific, all-caps directive on cheese when he shared his Welsh Rarebit recipe for this story.
“DO NOT USE THE ORANGE STUFF!”
A properly aged, off-white, English-style cheddar will melt into a creamy pool while retaining its sharp bite. A cheap hunk of many American versions, tinted with annatto, will “turn your rarebit orange, first off,” Gilbert said, his wry English wit emerging. “And it separates as well, becoming greasy.”
In the three years that Gilbert has operated The Seven Dials alongside his wife, Katie Sullivan, his Welsh Rarebit has been a menu mainstay at the British-American gastropub almost the entire time.
Welsh Rarebit is a UK favorite
A warm, comforting blend of cheese, beer, flour and butter that’s spread on toast — with a few dashes of tangy Worcestershire sauce — rarebit is a regular favorite at homes, pubs and restaurants all over the UK. It’s been on the menu since opening night in 1994 at Fergus Henderson’s famed, Michelin-starred St. John restaurant in London.
That’s the rarebit version from which UK-born Gilbert, 38, crafted his Miami interpretation. It starts with a base of Zak the Baker bread and finishes with the sweet acidity of cherry tomatoes and brightness of fresh basil. (There’s also a smack of the British yeast extract Marmite in there for extra umami.)
“We’ve given a lot of British dishes a shot on the menu with our own twists,” he said, mentioning his Fish & Chips made with local corvina and Bangers & Mash with Miami’s own Proper Sausages. “Finding those old-school hits that work well in our climate can be tricky.”
Seven Dials crafts the perfect fall dish – and you can, too
Welsh Rarebit is definitely one of those hits that Gilbert has adapted well to its South Florida environs, and late fall’s dip in temperature makes now a perfect time to cozy up with this can’t-put-down delight.
Gilbert — who cooked at Michy’s, Catch and The Local before opening The Seven Dials — puts cheffy touches on his Welsh Rarebit. But it’s easy to make the classic dish at home, and you can put whatever spin on it you like.
“Rarebit is one of those dishes that people think is a big project, but then five minutes later, it’s done, and you’re wondering what all the fuss was about,” Gilbert said. “It’s a pretty forgiving recipe. I mean, it’s good cheese, good beer and good bread — you can’t go wrong with that.”
The Seven Dials, 2030 Douglas Road, Coral Gables; 786-542-1603; sevendialsmiami.com.
Recipe: The Seven Dials’ Welsh Rarebit
Serves 2-4 as appetizer
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 bottle dark beer
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder or prepared English mustard
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 pound high-quality aged cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup regular cream cheese
Toasted bread and extra Worcestershire, to serve
Optional garnishes (see note)
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until just beginning to brown. Reduce heat to low and add flour, stirring for about five minutes. Pull off heat if flour begins to burn.
- Increase heat to medium-low and add beer, a little at a time, whisking steadily.
- Add Worcestershire, mustard and pepper and stir until incorporated. Then add the cheeses, a little at a time, and continue stirring until it is smooth and a light caramel color.
- Transfer sauce to a covered container and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
- To serve, spoon cheese sauce onto toast and heat under a broiler for several minutes, until sauce is bubbling. Finish with a few splashes of Worcestershire, if desired.
Note: The Seven Dials garnishes its rarebit-topped toast with sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and housemade tomato sauce (Campbell’s works well, too). “It adds a bit of acidity and freshness to everything,” chef Andrew Gilbert said. “Plus, it juxtaposes sunny Florida with rainy UK.”
Looking to lighten things up? This may be the best vegan sandwich you’ll ever taste, from Madruga Bakery in Coral Gables.