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drosendorf

Sra. Martinez - Design District, Miami

19 posts in this topic

Miami local hero Michelle Bernstein (Michy's) just opened up a new tapas restaurant in Miami's Design District, which is rapidly becoming ground zero for great dining in Miami. The place aims to be an upscale tapas joint with mid-scale prices, with some straight-ahead traditional items and several others with chef Michelle Bernstein’s creative flair. I have a real prediliction for this kind of thing, being a huge fan of Spanish flavors and tapas-style dining, and it's great to see it done well.

Sra. Martinez is in the old post office building in the Design District which previously housed the short-lived restaurant Domo Japones. I had not been to Domo Japones before it closed so I can't really tell you what's been changed, but I can say that it is an interesting space. Most of it is open to a 2-story height, with a staircase up to an open loft-like area on the 2nd floor. There are several large horseshoe booths along one side, with 2- and 4-tops throughout the middle and a reasonably large bar (maybe 15 seats) on the other wall. The upstairs has a couple larger tables which look down on the main dining room along with another small (maybe 6 seats) bar area. It looked like the downstairs bar was also being put to use as a cold prep area. The place was not as brightly colored as some reports had led me to believe, with the main color accents coming from a couple bullfighting posters and some bright red Philippe Stark "Ghost" chairs and barstools.

One piece of good news is that I didn't have to feel remotely self-conscious about being a pig, as Mrs. F promptly ordered about a half-dozen things for the table almost immediately after we got the menus (which come folded up inside envelopes, a little tribute to the building's original role), and everyone quickly got into the sharing spirit. Between the six of us (including Frod Jr. and Little Miss F) we ordered a total of 16 items plus a couple desserts. Although individual portions were generally pretty small, overall this was a pretty good amount of food.

A link to the full menu is here ->

Sra. Martinez menu

Here's the rundown on what we tried ->

- crispy artichokes – really good. Artichoke hearts with most of the tender stem left on (why people often sacrifice this part is beyond me), sliced thin and fried with a little bread crumb coating. Light, crispy and not greasy at all. Served w/ a lemony dipping sauce.

- poached fried egg – actually more like a fried poached egg (same style as Jonathan Eismann does at Pacific Time where the egg is poached and then coated in crumbs and fried), served over a bed of crispy (fried?) kale and draped with serrano ham. So nice we had it twice.

- tortilla espanola – the classic Spanish egg and potato dish, with some sweet caramelized onion in the mix. A pretty small hockey-puck sized portion, Mrs. F didn't like that it was slightly watery though I recall this sort of oozy quality being typical of many versions we had in Spain.

- arugula salad – with piave vecchio cheese, thinly sliced persimmon, tarragon and lemon oil. I did not get a chance to try this but Little Miss F - who we've discovered is a big persimmon fan - liked it, as did the rest of the table, apparently.

- fried calamari – although this appears in the menu circulated online (linked to in an earlier post), the actual menu has a grilled calamari dish though the fried calamari was available as an off-menu item. Good but nothing special. But, with rare exceptions, I think fried calamari, while it can be done badly, even when done well is only going to reach a certain height - it's good, but it'll never floor you (though one exception I can think of is a fried calamari sandwich I had at a place called El Brillante in Madrid; oh my that was good).

- white bean stew – one of the real standout items for me. Gigantic white beans (not sure if these were fabes or the mammoth judion beans that we saw in Segovia) stewed with big chunks of duck/foie gras sausage (more duck-y than foie-y) and laced with a port reduction that gives the whole dish a hint of sweetness. Absolutely loved it, great dish for a cold night.

- boquerones – traditional white anchovies marinated in vinegar. Nothing special but good if you like such things, like my mother-in-law and me (we're also the ones eating all the pickled herring at old-school Jewish spreads).

- piquillo peppers – again another simple traditional dish. Good if you like such things (I do) but again nothing extraordinary.

- patatas bravas – another classic, cubed fried potatoes w/ a spicy tomato sauce (hence the “bravas,” i.e. “brave” or “fierce”) and often served w/ an aioli as well. Though the potatoes had a nice crispy-outside, creamy-inside texture, I didn’t like that this was presented with both the tomato sauce and the aioli in little dipping bowls instead of being “dressed”. While perhaps it’s OK to treat the aioli as a dipper, I much prefer when these are sauced /w the tomato sauce first so it can soak in a little (but not so much that it dampens the potatoes’ crunch). I also thought the bravas sauce was too sweet and not spicy enough. Also a pretty slight portion even for tapas. Yes, I’m particular about my bravas.

- pork belly – here was another standout, a nice cube of pork belly (about 3 inches square), crispy outside and super-tender within, topped with a smidge of a not-too-sweet fennel-orange marmalade, and accompanied with a “benihana salad.” Really good pork. On the meat alone this will give Michael Schwartz’s pork belly w/ kim chee a run for its money (though I still think MGF&D’s accompaniments are a little more interesting).

- sweetbreads – if you’ve eaten at Michy’s and like sweetbreads, you know that MB has a real touch with these. The prep here was just as good, crispy outside and ethereally tender and fluffy inside, but I thought the accompaniments – a romesco sauce (a pesto-like paste of dried red peppers, almonds and garlic), a caperberry, and a lemon wedge – were not nearly as inspired or effective as some I’ve had at MIchy’s (for instance, with bbq sauce and braised pork jowl).

- prawns a la plancha – massive head-on “Madagascar prawns” (for those wondering, as I was, what the deal is with “Madagascar prawns,” I suspect that they must be these puppies, which say they are organically and sustainably produced) grilled and served with cloves of “confit garlic” and a shmear of a smooth chimichurri. The prawns were good, if a little tricky to extract from their shells - and there are few dining experiences I like as much as sucking on the head of a good prawn - but I thought the accompaniments could have been a little more inspired. The idea seems to be somewhere between a classic gambas al ajillo (shrimp sautéed in olive oil and lots of garlic) and gambas a la plancha (simply grilled, often with nothing other than sea salt) but this somehow fell a little short of either. I just think this dish ought to go in one direction or the other, or perhaps in another direction entirely (for instance, Michy’s giant prawns with corn and tarragon was a beautiful dish). Plus, I don’t think anyone particularly wants to pop a whole garlic clove in their mouth unless perhaps they’re dining alone (or would prefer to be alone).

- sea urchin “sandwich” – This one really won me over. Uni is one of my favorite ingredients, though usually I prefer it as is rather than messed with or cooked. Here, it’s smooshed into a sandwich that’s pressed and grilled with some soy-ginger butter, and boy does it ever work for me. It didn’t lose any of that urchin-y goodness, and the soy-ginger just highlighted and enhanced the intriguing salty spicy sweet flavors of the uni. Frod Jr. liked this too, though only in small portions (the flavors were pretty intense for him), as did the mother-in-law (not exactly someone you would peg as a sea urchin eater).

- galbi pinchos – short ribs, sliced thin across the bone dim-sum style, marinated in a Korean kalbi-style sweet soy sauce, and served with a kohlrabi “slaw” (made with kohlrabi sliced super-thin cross-wise into rounds rather than julienned, and vinegared – reminiscent of something you might get as a Korean banchan). I liked these, as did Frod Jr., though Mrs. F thought they were a little chewy (which they were, but us boys didn’t mind).

- rabbit – this is a varation on a dish I’ve had as a special at Michy’s, a loin of rabbit wrapped in bacon, and served with sautéed rounds of carrot, a carrot-cumin sauce and cubes of panisse (chick-pea fries). Delicious. One of the best rabbit preps I’ve ever had.

- cheese plate – Mrs. F ordered a cheese plate in lieu of a dessert, and they brought it out with a candle stuck in one of the cheeses because it was Mrs. F’s birthday (Yay! Birthday Cheese!). A simple presentation with a Valdeon blue, a Manchego, and a Murcia al Vino, each with a dab of some jam or marmalade to accompany. The blue was paired with an onion marmalade, I could not pick up what each of the others were.

- donuts – dulce de leche filled donuts, accompanied with a coffee granita (coffee and doughnuts!). I only got the tiniest bite of a donut but they went quickly, and the coffee granita was (pleasantly) very strong and not very sweet at all. Little Miss F, despite our best efforts to keep our 8-year old off stimulants, is a coffee fiend and loved this.

- greek yogurt ice cream – a very yogurt-y ice cream (again, pleasantly so, I thought), accompanied with a sweet tomato marmalade and a third component which I’m not recalling whether it was a basil syrup or a balsamic syrup – I only recall that the flavors were evocative of a sweet caprese. I enjoy the mash-up of sweet and savory ideas and thought this was good, though I thought a similar concept was executed even better by Pastry Chef Fabian di Paolo at a dinner we had at Neomi's in Sunny Isles a/k/a Paradigm - The Test Kitchen several months ago.

The wine list is exclusively Spanish and has many interesting items. I didn’t quite get to soak it all in, but noticed a couple of Txakolis (a high-acid, sometimes slightly effervescent white from the Basque region that is wonderful with seafood dishes) and a number of other nicely priced choices. We had an Alto Moncayo Veraton (a garnacha from Campa de Borja made in a modern style which is absolutely delicious) for $55, which is almost exactly 2x the retail release price. I also didn’t get to soak in the drinks list though it also looked very interesting. Little Miss F very much enjoyed her “San Sebastian,” a non-alcoholic mojito variation with lime, mint, cucumber and ginger beer.

MB was in the house and very graciously (after some hocking of the waitstaff by my mother-in-law, who saw her speak at the Book Fair) came by to say hi. Some of the staff from Michy’s were there as well, we noticed at least a few familiar faces. I don’t know whether that’s just to ease the opening week jitters or will be a more permanent state of affairs, but I was astonished at how smoothly the place was running for only their second official day open. We did not have a single notable snag in service or execution the entire night. Since we were sharing for the whole table, dishes were just brought out as they were ready, and the pace worked out great, as we basically had a parade of 3-4 dishes at a time over the course of the meal. Our waiter knew the menu pretty well (said all the staff tasted through the whole menu before they opened, the “best breakfast” he’d ever had). Another group of servers brings dishes to the table from the kitchen (no easy task for the upstairs tables) and they might need a little more studying (I think one said that kohlrabi was a fruit) but generally did a great job of getting the food out smoothly. The upstairs space can feel a little tight when waitstaff need to squeeze through (there are wine fridges and racks positioned on either side of the tables up there) but it was no big deal to me. The place had pretty much filled up by the time we left around 9:30 (the Design District was PACKED last night presumably with the Art Basel crowd).

Portions were somewhat on the “wee” side, with lots of funky service pieces and elegant, somewhat sparsely decorated plates, rather than the loaded, bubbling cazuelas you’ll find at a traditional tapas joint. I suspect if we were all adults at the table (though Frod Jr. and Little Miss F are good eaters) that we probably would have needed around 3 items per diner or more, and even then you’d likely be sated but not stuffed. Depending on what you order, that could easily be $40-50 a head – certainly not a cheap meal (our bill came to about $200 for 6 people excl. drinks tax & tip). But that’ll be a pretty nice meal; plus, the place also really lends itself to having a little snack and a drink at the bar instead of a full-blown meal, or maybe, before a meal as you head off to another of the DD's restaurants (y’know, like a tapas bar!).

Some may note that I am not trumpeting every single dish we had as a knock-out. And that’s true. Generally speaking, I found the stuff that was more basic traditional tapas items to be somewhat less exciting, though that’s not to say they weren’t good. Piquillo peppers are delicious – you don’t necessarily have to mess with them. So while the roasted piquillos may not have been a revelatory dish (though it might be if you’ve never had them before), it’s still a good dish and one I’m happy to be able to order. (Though if someone could recreate the outrageously good piquillos rellenos with bacalao and squid ink sauce as well as El Carajo used to do them, that would make me very happy indeed). Everything was very good, and several of the dishes I thought were outstanding – the white bean stew, the rabbit, the uni sandwich and the pork belly particularly. And the feel of the place is just great, and the food really fits it.

So, even though it’s only been open 2 days, is it too early to come up with a wish list? What can I say, I love this kind of food, and I want more.

- jamon iberico – I know it’s inconsistent with the price points of the rest of the menu, but can you really have a tapas bar without a leg of real-deal jamon iberico behind the bar awaiting carving? The stuff is the platonic ideal of porkiness. Those who know will pay handsomely for it.

- callos – I did not try the garbanzos w/ morcilla, but if we’re going to do blood sausage, can’t we get some tripe in the mix too?

- soups – other than a gazpacho, no soup on the menu. How about a sopa de ajo? A caldo gallego?

- fish – a surprising dearth of fish on the menu, though lots of shellfish. How about a bacalao al pil pil? Piquillos rellenos w/ bacalao?

- montaditos – these little bites on bread are elevated to an art form in some Spanish tapas bars (San Sebastian is legendary for them). I think it’s a great format to play with and would make for some fantastic bar nibbles.

I guess I'll work my way through the rest of the menu first. I’m already plotting my next visit. Chickpeas w/ morcilla? Rabo encendido? Roasted marrow bones? Harissa-spiced quail? I’m coming for you.

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Great meal recap, Frod. My only disagreement with you is that the Design District is becoming "ground zero for fine dining". Perhaps that is for another topic, but only Michael's Genuine really fits the bill, with Michelle's small tapas place yipping at his heels. Pacific Time, Fratelli Lyon, Brosia? None have proven their mettle yet. I ate at all the Design District restaurants at some point in the last three weeks (including Sra. Martinez twice), and other than the great service (and of course the beautiful red Berkel hand-slicer) at Fratelli Lyon, I was really disappointed. In fact, as the DD becomes more of a 'dining destination', it seems as though the quality of the restaurants has actually fallen. Kind of like South Beach.

I do believe that MB will be very successful here, though.

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Great meal recap, Frod.  My only disagreement with you is that the Design District is becoming "ground zero for fine dining".  Perhaps that is for another topic, but only Michael's Genuine really fits the bill, with Michelle's small tapas place yipping at his heels.  Pacific Time, Fratelli Lyon, Brosia?  None have proven their mettle yet.  I ate at all the Design District restaurants at some point in the last three weeks (including Sra. Martinez twice), and other than the great service (and of course the beautiful red Berkel hand-slicer) at Fratelli Lyon, I was really disappointed.  In fact, as the DD becomes more of a 'dining destination', it seems as though the quality of the restaurants has actually fallen.  Kind of like South Beach.

I do believe that MB will be very successful here, though.

I guess by "ground zero" I mean that you can go to just about any of the now-several restaurants in the Design District and at a minimum have a good meal, and potentially have an excellent one (which is a lot more than you can say for South Beach, which these days is a lot like playing Russian Roulette with 5 bullets in the chambers). There are certainly more places I want to go for dinner in the DD and along Biscayne Blvd. than there are in South Beach or the Gables these days.

Personally, I seem to like Pacific Time more than some folks, and Fratelli Lyon less than others. I've not yet been to Buena Vista Bistro, which I thought you liked. Particularly since several of these places have a focus on small dishes, I do like the possibility of a DD tapas crawl - you could do a taste-testing of MGF&D, Pacific Time and Sra. Martinez's bacon-wrapped, blue-cheese & almond-stuffed dates (the official snack of the Design District).

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Great meal recap, Frod.  My only disagreement with you is that the Design District is becoming "ground zero for fine dining".  Perhaps that is for another topic, but only Michael's Genuine really fits the bill, with Michelle's small tapas place yipping at his heels.  Pacific Time, Fratelli Lyon, Brosia?  None have proven their mettle yet.  I ate at all the Design District restaurants at some point in the last three weeks (including Sra. Martinez twice), and other than the great service (and of course the beautiful red Berkel hand-slicer) at Fratelli Lyon, I was really disappointed.  In fact, as the DD becomes more of a 'dining destination', it seems as though the quality of the restaurants has actually fallen.  Kind of like South Beach.

I do believe that MB will be very successful here, though.

I guess by "ground zero" I mean that you can go to just about any of the now-several restaurants in the Design District and at a minimum have a good meal, and potentially have an excellent one (which is a lot more than you can say for South Beach, which these days is a lot like playing Russian Roulette with 5 bullets in the chambers). There are certainly more places I want to go for dinner in the DD and along Biscayne Blvd. than there are in South Beach or the Gables these days.

Personally, I seem to like Pacific Time more than some folks, and Fratelli Lyon less than others. I've not yet been to Buena Vista Bistro, which I thought you liked. Particularly since several of these places have a focus on small dishes, I do like the possibility of a DD tapas crawl - you could do a taste-testing of MGF&D, Pacific Time and Sra. Martinez's bacon-wrapped, blue-cheese & almond-stuffed dates (the official snack of the Design District).

Yeah sorry didn't mean to snap....but here's my take-Buena Vista Bistro is not really in the DD, so doesn't count. PT is sub-ordinary; Brosia has tumbled into the abyss, and so far, although I like some stuff at SM, and MB and David are super-sweet, the portions are ridiculously small. BTW, there was a caldo gallego on the menu tonite, broham. $9. And the $4 Borsao BTG is just too cheap and good to pass up. However, I had an amazing roasted pepper cocktail at MGFD after ($13), and the wings. The wings. The Culinary Cage Match is ON.


Edited by Miami Danny (log)

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Yeah sorry didn't mean to snap....but here's my take-Buena Vista Bistro is not really in the DD, so doesn't count.  PT is sub-ordinary; Brosia has tumbled into the abyss, and so far, although I like some stuff at SM, and MB and David are super-sweet, the portions are ridiculously small. 

Surprised to see you refer to PT as sub-ordinary. I have it as one of the top 10 places in town, certainly within its price category. Grilled asparagus w/ poached/fried egg, hot & sour popcorn shrimp, tempura soft-shell crab, duck salad, buffalo sweetbreads, quail w/ peaches, short rib w/ white beans, great french fries, 20+ small dishes to choose from, all work for me.

I agree the portions at Sra. are somewhat parsimonious.

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Yeah sorry didn't mean to snap....but here's my take-Buena Vista Bistro is not really in the DD, so doesn't count.  PT is sub-ordinary; Brosia has tumbled into the abyss, and so far, although I like some stuff at SM, and MB and David are super-sweet, the portions are ridiculously small. 

Surprised to see you refer to PT as sub-ordinary. I have it as one of the top 10 places in town, certainly within its price category. Grilled asparagus w/ poached/fried egg, hot & sour popcorn shrimp, tempura soft-shell crab, duck salad, buffalo sweetbreads, quail w/ peaches, short rib w/ white beans, great french fries, 20+ small dishes to choose from, all work for me.

I agree the portions at Sra. are somewhat parsimonious.

I love the bar at PT, and I love the bartender Amanda at PT. I had the 'Crisp Dates' (smoked pork belly, almonds, garlic aioli on endive over bleu cheese) last night and they were very, very good. I also loved the wine list but I understand that those prices may have been unsustainable. The consistency of the kitchen is not there yet, and I am often bewildered by the food. The hot and sour popcorn shrimp is just a big mess to me, even though it sounds like it's going to be a big party in your mouth. Maybe they should call it hot and sour popcorn shrimp lollipops and cover all the cutesy bases. But I'm willing to give it another try, if only for Miss Amanda...

As for the actual topic...Culinary Cage Match


Edited by Miami Danny (log)

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I love the bar at PT, and I love the bartender Amanda at PT.  I had the 'Crisp Dates' (smoked pork belly, almonds, garlic aioli on endive over bleu cheese) last night and they were very, very good.  I also loved the wine list but I understand that those prices may have been unsustainable.  The consistency of the kitchen is not there yet, and I am often bewildered by the food.  The hot and sour popcorn shrimp is just a big mess to me, even though it sounds like it's going to be a big party in your mouth.  Maybe they should call it hot and sour popcorn shrimp lollipops and cover all the cutesy bases.  But I'm willing to give it another try, if only for Miss Amanda...

I think you need a "devils on horseback" cage match - how funny is it that there are 3 restaurants within 3 blocks of each other all doing almost the exact same dish? Is there some zoning requirement in the DD now that you have to offer bacon-wrapped, blue-cheese and almond stuffed dates?

My kids insist on ordering the shrimp every time we're at PT and I never mind sneaking a couple. We've also been there very often (probably at least a half dozen times over the past several months) and never had consistency issues. (And we've always seen Jonathan Eismann there running the kitchen). But I do think I know what you're talking about when you say you're "bewildered" sometimes. Although the Asian focus is not nearly as overt as when PT was on Lincoln Road, I do think there's still a strong focus on salty/sweet/sour balance in his dishes, and sometimes I find the sour component overplayed. Some dishes just haven't worked for me occasionally. But that's similar to my experience at Michy's in the first several months it opened, where there were some items that I just didn't think worked (baby conch escargot?)

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I love the bar at PT, and I love the bartender Amanda at PT.  I had the 'Crisp Dates' (smoked pork belly, almonds, garlic aioli on endive over bleu cheese) last night and they were very, very good.  I also loved the wine list but I understand that those prices may have been unsustainable.  The consistency of the kitchen is not there yet, and I am often bewildered by the food.  The hot and sour popcorn shrimp is just a big mess to me, even though it sounds like it's going to be a big party in your mouth.  Maybe they should call it hot and sour popcorn shrimp lollipops and cover all the cutesy bases.  But I'm willing to give it another try, if only for Miss Amanda...

I think you need a "devils on horseback" cage match - how funny is it that there are 3 restaurants within 3 blocks of each other all doing almost the exact same dish? Is there some zoning requirement in the DD now that you have to offer bacon-wrapped, blue-cheese and almond stuffed dates?

My kids insist on ordering the shrimp every time we're at PT and I never mind sneaking a couple. We've also been there very often (probably at least a half dozen times over the past several months) and never had consistency issues. (And we've always seen Jonathan Eismann there running the kitchen). But I do think I know what you're talking about when you say you're "bewildered" sometimes. Although the Asian focus is not nearly as overt as when PT was on Lincoln Road, I do think there's still a strong focus on salty/sweet/sour balance in his dishes, and sometimes I find the sour component overplayed. Some dishes just haven't worked for me occasionally. But that's similar to my experience at Michy's in the first several months it opened, where there were some items that I just didn't think worked (baby conch escargot?)

Here's a look at the croquetas at SM which I realy loved DailyCocaine and you can also see how small the duck and foie gras sausage/white bean dish is, which at $15 is pretty steep, although delicious in a port wine reduction. Also the 18oz. T-Bone which started at $28 is now $33, but I still think that's a bargain. I agree on the dates, but how about sweetbreads, crispy pork belly, multiple egg dishes, etc. I also wish that SM would use their beautiful Berkel for more than just serrano ham, as you've stated elsewhere.

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I also wish that SM would use their beautiful Berkel for more than just serrano ham, as you've stated elsewhere.

I thought for the truly hardcore the jamon iberico is supposed to be sliced by hand - you don't want any of the heat of a machine melting that lovely fat.

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I also wish that SM would use their beautiful Berkel for more than just serrano ham, as you've stated elsewhere.

I thought for the truly hardcore the jamon iberico is supposed to be sliced by hand - you don't want any of the heat of a machine melting that lovely fat.

the hand crank doesn't really generate the kind of heat that an electric slicer does, although I am not a scientist. My point was I think they could add more charcuterie. And when I said "bewildered" about PT, I didn't mean I was confused. I am just bewildered at how bad the food often is. Especially that horrible shrimp. I can understand -it's soft and mushy and sweet as candy-why children might like it, tho..... I feel another CCM comin on...

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Anyone been to Sra. Martinez this spring? I'd be interested to see what's going on lately.

I've been back several times since this post. My most recent report is here: Sra. Martinez - Miami Design District and gives a more complete run-down of the various items I've sampled.

The menu, similar to Michy's, is in a somewhat constant state of metamorphosis. Some stalwarts stick around, but several items come and go, and still others get tweaked every couple months. As an example, one of the items I was underwhelmed by on one of my earlier visits, a sweetbread paired with a romescu sauce and caperberry, became on a more recent visit a sweetbread with a semi-sweet orange sauce with lettuce leaves which was vastly improved.

The uni sandwich apparently was a huge hit at the James Beard Awards in NY recently.

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I'm recently back from 11 days in Miami which included three marathon meals at Sra. Martinez- there are 41 items on the menu, and we managed to have 22 of them, plus two daily specials (some things we just had to have on each visit), and I'm doing my best to wade through hundreds and hundreds of photos.

It's no secret that I'm a Michelle Bernstein lover, and I think that this restaurant gets everything right - the ambiance, the service, the "vibe", and the food - oh, the food. I think it's a fantastic representation of what Michelle Bernstein is all about, and it should be noted that she and Sra. Martinez's head chef Bernice Dearaujo (formerly of Michy's) are delivering faultless execution and amazing flavors.

Charred Fava Salad

Bibb Lettuce, Cara Cara Orange, Soy Habañero Vinaigrette

gallery_11181_6667_63792.jpg

Shrimp Tiradito

Madagascar Prawns, Soy, Ginger, Aji Amarillo Aioli

gallery_11181_6667_100262.jpg

Foie Gras

Brown Butter Apples, Pulled Braised Pork

gallery_11181_6667_25534.jpg

Roasted Bone Marrow

BBQ Eel, Apples, Soy, Apple Butter

gallery_11181_6667_71651.jpg

Butifarra

Gigante White Beans, Foie Gras-Duck Sausage, Port Wine

gallery_11181_6667_17524.jpg

Whole Boneless Fish

Roasted Piquillos, Garlic Chips

gallery_11181_6667_67186.jpg

Soft Shell Crabs

Greek Salad

(daily special)

gallery_11181_6667_94534.jpg

Paella

(daily special)

gallery_11181_6667_151530.jpg

Dessert

This is the dessert that drosendorf mentions in the first post. I do believe that it is Greek yogurt, with tomato marmalade, and basil syrup - sort of a dessert version of "Insalata Caprese", and wildly successful, and a very fitting end to a meal like this.

gallery_11181_6667_71505.jpg

Two comments come to mind. One is that I eat a lot of sauteed foie gras, and I've always thought that Michelle's is pretty much consistently the best - the preparations vary, and they're always outstanding. The dish here, combining it with the pulled pork, is simply brilliant (the savory maple syrup with meat jus and a very smoky overtone lends a haunting quality). And it's addictive - it was a player in each of my three meals. The second comment is that she makes some of the best soft-shell crabs around.

This restaurant is a great deal of pure unadulterated fun. And in a sense, although her flagship restaurant, Michy's (food photos here) cleverly offers most of its dishes in full, and half portions, Sra. Martinez, with tapas-sized portions, is sort of like Michy's-lite. I think it's a masterpiece of a restaurant. Of course, having eaten probably a hundred of her meals (+/-), I am indeed biased.


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I have some photos to add, and wanted to keep them all together - but I'll put the new ones first:

(And the dessert is indeed Yogurt flavored ice-cream, not plain Yogurt)

Calamari "A la Plancha"

Arroz Negro (Black Rice)

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Fresh Sea Urchin "Sandwich"

A la Plancha, Soy-Ginger Butter

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Seared Scallops

Spinach Gomase, Sugar Snap Peas, Dashi Nage

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Seared Tile Fish

Bulgur Risotto with Lemon, English Peas and Pea Tendrils, Lemon Vinaigrette

(daily special)

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Charred Fava Salad

Bibb Lettuce, Cara Cara Orange, Soy Habañero Vinaigrette

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Shrimp Tiradito

Madagascar Prawns, Soy, Ginger, Aji Amarillo Aioli

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Foie Gras

Brown Butter Apples, Pulled Braised Pork

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Roasted Bone Marrow

BBQ Eel, Apples, Soy, Apple Butter

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Butifarra

Gigante White Beans, Foie Gras-Duck Sausage, Port Wine

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Whole Boneless Fish

Roasted Piquillos, Garlic Chips

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Soft Shell Crabs

Greek Salad

(daily special)

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Paella

(daily special)

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Dessert

This is the dessert that drosendorf mentions in the first post.  It is yogurt flavored ice-cream, with tomato marmalade, and basil syrup - sort of a dessert version of "Insalata Caprese", and wildly successful, and a very fitting end to a meal like this.

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Two comments come to mind.  One is that I eat a lot of sauteed foie gras, and I've always thought that Michelle's is pretty much consistently the best - the preparations vary, and they're always outstanding.  The dish here, combining it with the pulled pork, is simply brilliant (the savory maple syrup with meat jus and a very smoky overtone lends a haunting quality).  And it's addictive - it was a player in each of my three meals.  The second comment is that she makes some of the best soft-shell crabs around.

This restaurant is a great deal of pure unadulterated fun.  And in a sense, although her flagship restaurant, Michy's (food photos here) cleverly offers most of its dishes in full, and half portions, Sra. Martinez, with tapas-sized portions, is sort of like Michy's-lite.  I think it's a masterpiece of a restaurant.  Of course, having eaten probably a hundred of her meals (+/-), I am indeed biased.


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Sra. Martinez last night for cocktails and tapas was a treat.

Having dragged our butts around the Design District for a couple of hours and, suddenly, realizing that the area basically closed at six with few exceptions (Marimekko, thank you), we headed over to the restaurant at 6:30, half an hour before our reservation. The second floor (technically a half-floor) has a small bar at the back operated by Matthew Goldberg, who made us two great drinks prior to our meal. I had a sour made with Bulleit bourbon, sour orange juice, and thyme syrup that was very good; I would have preferred it up instead of on the rocks, especially since the rocks weren't the Kold-Draft ice that they also have available. My wife had a great Cava Blitz, with Grand Marnier, Fee's orange bitters, a sugar cube, and Vilafranca cava. From the looks of the menu, they have a good cocktail program going and Matthew is an interesting and articulate advocate for it.

Then downstairs for dinner, which was excellent overall. In the "Cold & Crisp" section we had roasted piquillos with rich, peppery olive oil and the boquerones escabeche, a standard pintxos with perfect white anchovies topped with a julienned carrot, celery and pepper pickle. In one of the themes of the night, my wife thought that the pickle took away from the boquerones, whereas I thought the three items married taste and texture perfectly. Then again, she could eat a pound of boquerones with her fingers and die happy.

I do think, however, that Sra. Martinez is showcasing the talents of chefs who understand balance extremely well. When they take care of assembly for you -- the pintxos and the choclo con chiles, absolutely flawless and served off the cob -- you can do no wrong. But some dishes require a bit of assembly to find the dish's intended balance.

Take the brick-dough-encased foie. One mouthful of the foie that combines the it, dough, apple, pork, and the brown butter reductions of all is perfect, truly more than the sum of the excellent parts. However, it comes as a small plate and not as, say, a pintxo, so you must construct the bites yourself. Poking one item at a time in your mouth, you might find the foie a teensy bit underdone and the pork a teensy bit over done; together, the rich, melty foie provides the perfect fatty mouthfeel foil to the chewy, caramelized roasted pork.

With that in mind, you can make some amazing forkfuls of food. The calamari "a la plancha" with arroz negro and chimichurri also rewarded a bit of each on the tines. (Too bad that a couple of pieces of calamari were chewy -- a risk of the plancha I guess.) The butifarra was my favorite of the night, an expertly made foie-duck sausage with gigante white beans and a port thyme reduction, again, showcasing the interplay of items with great skill.

It really is a restaurant that rewards adventurous large groups; we left stuffed with a dozen more items desired but unordered. We are ignorant of the Miami social scene, but the response of the wait staff and Bernstein herself to a couple of tables probably indicates that we were on the Z list. Fair enough: we were very happy to have spent the night there, and I'd recommend any fan of big flavors on small plates to hit it.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Someone wrote to ask what I meant by this:

We are ignorant of the Miami social scene, but the response of the wait staff and Bernstein herself to a couple of tables probably indicates that we were on the Z list.

When Chef Bernstein came out, she went to one of the tables that had gotten a lot of attention from the FOH staff (esp the maître d' or floor manager) and talked to them exclusively; she didn't walk around the room to talk to the other tables. When I made an effort to say thank you to her, just as I had to our servers, she made no indication that she noticed or cared.

Had this been an important part of the meal, I would have devoted more time to it, but frankly I don't care what list I'm on. However, as others have referred to the "see and be seen" quality of the place, the single-sentence mention seemed appropriate.

ETA that the servers themselves, along with both bartenders, absolutely nailed the informal American service style with grace, intelligence, and aplomb. Anyone who's been to Miami knows that decent service is the exception, not the rule. (I got kicked out of Vintage Liquors on Rt. 1 in a tony mall in South Miami last night by having the proprietors shut off the lights while I was in the back ogling rums. Didn't buy anything.) So I'm talking only about the maître d' and Bernstein herself.


Edited by chrisamirault (log)

Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Someone wrote to ask what I meant by this:
We are ignorant of the Miami social scene, but the response of the wait staff and Bernstein herself to a couple of tables probably indicates that we were on the Z list.

When Chef Bernstein came out, she went to one of the tables that had gotten a lot of attention from the FOH staff (esp the maître d' or floor manager) and talked to them exclusively; she didn't walk around the room to talk to the other tables. When I made an effort to say thank you to her, just as I had to our servers, she made no indication that she noticed or cared.

Had this been an important part of the meal, I would have devoted more time to it, but frankly I don't care what list I'm on. However, as others have referred to the "see and be seen" quality of the place, the single-sentence mention seemed appropriate.

ETA that the servers themselves, along with both bartenders, absolutely nailed the informal American service style with grace, intelligence, and aplomb. Anyone who's been to Miami knows that decent service is the exception, not the rule. (I got kicked out of Vintage Liquors on Rt. 1 in a tony mall in South Miami last night by having the proprietors shut off the lights while I was in the back ogling rums. Didn't buy anything.) So I'm talking only about the maître d' and Bernstein herself.

Chef Bernstein is not the type that attempts to work the entire room (which I think would be difficult in a space the size of Sra. M - even more so when she's splitting her time almost every night between Sra. M and Michy's several blocks down Biscayne Blvd.), but I guess I can see how visiting just one table could come off as a snub. I think you're right on target in noting that the staff as a whole are informed and do a very good job taking care of the diners. The bar is indeed a gem (a tiny one, unfortunately).

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It wasn't a size problem. There were five or six tables, max, in the room when we left. She could have said thanks to each in the span of three minutes. She was focused on one table -- which, again, is just fine with me.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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