Brad Kilgore, the Kansas City-born James Beard-nominated chef and restauranteur, has done it again with his swanky Design District restaurant, Ember. I’ve previously dined at Kilgore’s Japanese concept, Kaido, so I arrived with high expectations. Mark Diaz from MAD Design, the designer behind Kaido, is responsible for Ember’s sophisticated, glossy look. The design pays homage to the theme of the restaurant, wood-fired cooking, with wooden walls and ceilings, as well as massive artistic pieces of polished tree roots as décor. It’s elegant but also homey, something Kilgore seems to have kept in mind—curved lines and stripes are a reoccurring design theme here, meant to represent the tracks of Kansas City street cars.

Ember’s menu focuses on wood-fired dishes and innovative, fresh takes on American fare. My first dish was the Herb Gnudi, which comes with about six chèvre (goat cheese) dumplings, surrounded by fire roasted tomato sauce and covered with basil and crispy garlic oil. The cheese was velvety, smooth, and rich, while the top-quality tomato sauce was sweet and downright lovely. Next was the Smoked Fried Chicken with a side of Lobster Mac & Cheese. The breadcrumb was crispy and flavorful, but also light, while the caviar butter that dripped all over was heaven-sent. The true gem was the meat’s fall-off-the-bone texture. It was juicy, soft, and entirely mouthwatering, especially with the smokiness that sneakily emerges. The Lobster Mac & Cheese was cooked al dente, with a creamy, addicting texture and savory, soft morsels of lobster throughout—All garnished with brown butter crumbs! Irresistible!

For dessert, my guest and I ordered The Rice Crispy A La Mode. Puffed rice and grains, marshmallow, and dulce de leche ice cream arrived on top of a pool of silky dulce de leche. It was a sticky sugar rush that was very welcome, enriched by the toasted flavor of the rice crispy and marshmallow and perfected with the salty, honeyed flavor of the dulce de leche ice cream. If you have yet to set foot into a Kilgore restaurant, you should probably begin here. Ember holds the crown for creative enhancements on comfort food, and when you leave, you’ll be so spoiled that you won’t ever want to have a standard fried chicken or mac and cheese again…Promise!

151 NE 41st St., #117, Miami

By Aaliyah Pasols