Archive for the ‘Medium 2010’ Category

3.5 out of 5

So we had just been bike riding with some friends… a day of rainy weather, freak bike accidents, dehydration, flat tires, broken bike racks, but free entry to Shark Valley due to national “lands day.” On our way back, as we had done once years ago returning from Naples via the scenic route of Alligator Alley (SW 8th Street) it seemed obvious that Pit BBQ would hit the spot just right… and both times it did. This review is of this more recent occasion where we had a dandy ol’ time filling up our well-deserving exercising bellies.

Decor and ambiance are that of a standard BBQ place, with out door wooden bench seating and just a bit closer to the everglades than usual so a lil’ mo’ country… in other words very pleasant and casual. Drinks included two sodas with 75 cent refills, a bottle of water, and a bottle of beer – self-explanatory in terms of quality. We shared the gator bites appetizer which brought about 10 to 15 pieces of small-bite-size lightly breaded and perfectly fried with the undeniable flavor and texture of gator without being too chewy. At least one at the table was a gator rookie and enjoyed, especially courtesy of the spicy pink sauce with which it came. (more…)

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3 out of 5

We had been once before and it was good but this time just “hit or miss” from plate to plate. The look of the restaurant is modern, with large spacious tables surrounding a bar area and the open kitchen. The menu is divided into (soup) Bowla, Small Plates, Salads, Pizzas, Main Plates, and Sides. I was able to try the Caesar Salad, which they graciously provided in a half size portion at a smaller cost as per my request as all except the side salad are “dinner” portions. My appetizer size Caesar was perfect however my wife’s dinner portion lacked the anchovies, or “boquerones” as it were. The shrimp ceviches had been very good the first time we dined here however this time the two that were ordered were tiny and bland. At ten dollars you would expect more than about four or five baby shrimp in almost a shot size glass. The winner small plate were my mother’s Mojo Chicken Nachos, with black bean and corn salsa, pico de gallo, jalapenos, queso blanco, and avocado crema. These were such a nice portion that, if I ever return, could function as an appetizer for the table or even a small to moderate sized entrée. Further, they were tasty, fresh, with well-proportioned and distributed toppings. A great dish for the price and for what it is.

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4 out of 5

I had lunch there, a party of four including me. It was a Saturday and relatively empty so we were directed to seat ourselves and were greeted by a server immediately. We put in soda and water drink orders which came quickly in an expected amount of time. We ordered a medium Hawaiian pizza. It had the typical ham, pineapple, and onion well distributed on a thin and crispy 14 or so inch crust cut into six slices. It had an appropriate distribution of toppings as well as size for a “medium”.  All of us tried it and enjoyed it. We also ordered a large pizza split half BBQ chicken and half “Godfather”. The former brought chicken, red onions, cilantro, and bbq sauce and was very savory. The latter, as one could both expect and, at a pizza place, desire, contained more typical Italian style toppings such as sausage and pepperoni along with very fresh bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. (more…)

3.0 out of 5

We arrived and the place was empty so we were seated promptly.  After an unexpectedly long wait for our waters, considering there was no other drink order and there were only two to three other tables occupied and being served, we placed our appetizers order.  Prior to their arrival however we were brought one complimentary spoon (about two small bites) per person of sushi grade salmon with a mildly spicy Asian sauce. It was very nice and did exactly what such an amuse bouche is supposed to do. Soon our starters were before us. One was serving of four deep fried sea bass gyozas (dumplings) with chili garlic sauce. They were good but I could not tell the difference if the filling were sea bass versus the common shrimp and pork mixture except that they cost more than standard gyozas elsewhere.The other appetizer however was quite formidable and prepared surprisingly well as stuffed squid are not an everyday. To be specific, these were about six spicy (not remarkably though) crab and chorizo stuffed calamari with cilantro, lime, and sea salt. They were accompanied by a creamy cilantro sauce and a little pile of tiny baby squid rings and legs lightly breaded and fried. This was a well above average starter as it brought variety of taste and texture, looked lovely and tempting as presented on the plate, the calamari were not chewy in either format, and it did a proper job of fusing in Spanish cuisine. (more…)

3 out of 5

Very good for happy hour, where tacos are a bit more affordable and some of their awesome signature drinks (I recommend the martini with pineapple the name of which escapes me) are also on special, with a hip vibe to match the modern décor and surprisingly cool artwork.  For dinner it is crowded and a reservation is recommended. The tacos (all I have tried have been good, some very good) and side dishes (try the green rice as well as the chorizo beans… mmmm) are of very high quality, although you are paying for it. The guacamoles are just okay, in fact disappointingly bland and ordinary, with one true (and tried several times in my two visits) standout being the “torreado” featuring a perfect amount of Serrano chile spice and flavor.  The ceviches were however sub par across the board, the best of which was the octopus and I would never order that one again just because it is a small portion for the price and many other places do it better, bigger, more authentic, and cheaper. In fact, all around portions are small except for the tacos which are almost appropriately loaded for their cost. The tacos, to give credit, had diverse options from fish to beef to chicken with different moles, seasoning, and garnishes so I would recommend grabbing a couple and a drink at the happy hour.

Sharing menus as it turns out are more limiting than inviting once you are having them and, unfortunately, if you have a party of more than 6 you are forced into a sharing menu, which does not allow you to actually check out the variety of tasty tacos (as you can only order three of the dozen or so styles available) that, along with that one guacamole and a couple of the sides are the only reason to eat a meal here rather than just hang out and snack. Side dishes are great as well.  Service was excellent for happy hour but inconsistent for dinner.  Food comes out unpredictably which some like but I am not a fan of. I know I keep saying it but for what you are getting, this place is pricey (about double what you would pay for tacos or guacamole in any of your favorite and reliable Mexican restaurants) and the fancier fare of ceviches made it less worth the money. Smoke and mirrors were moderately high as it is fancifying a humble cuisine but not greatly so overall, but you can also check out its taqueria next door for tacos and the Torreado guacamole with much less smoke and mirrors in your way.

If you are into trendy and decent, but not much anywhere above average, restaurants this might be your place. Again, to hang out for happy hour and snack and peruse their enormous tequila list, one feature that added to the ratings above, this place is quite good… just not so much to make a whole dinner out of it, especially with a variety of other better restaurants around the corner or otherwise nearby.  I would also strongly suggest that, if you are not in a hurry to go there, wait for next years Miami Spice as that menu made the sharing more worthwhile due to a would-be-12-dollar drink included with the selection of guacs, ceviches, tacos, sides, AND dessert for the $35 dollar per person dinner (yes you heard right, $35 dollars per person for Mexican food is a deal in this place, see what I mean?). Fair warning, however: make sure you go with less than 6 people or during happy hour, two caveats that would hopefully allow you to have a somewhat higher rated experience for a lower price. If it is a “restaurant” to hang out, drink, see and be seen, but just recommended for snacks and not full dinner, then we are certainly dealing with smoke and mirrors. See all the ambivalent thoughts and feelings regarding this place the inconsistency and smoke n mirrors caused?

UPDATE:  I wrote the above after going there in 2010 and did not return until November 2011. I probably will never go back on mh own volition; not because it is bad, but because it just is not good enough for what it costs. I was there for lunch and the place was less than half full: Service was inconsistent, food was good to very good but not mindblowing and it is overpriced for the stingy (nothing, not even salsa, is complmentary), small portions, it continues to display more smoke and mirrors than quality dining. I repeat… if you go, drink and snack at happy hour.

Mercadito Midtown
(786) 369-0430
3252 NE 1st Ave
Miami, FL 33137
www.mercaditorestaurants.com/midtown/

2 out of 5

I was very excited as I had a gift certificate giving me $50 dollars (a considerable hunk of dough) off and it would be a new place to try. We got there, in the golf club and had to valet, which was fine since it is a resort though I much rather go DIY and free than this barbarically snooty practice. I was very impressed by the decorations involving elegant and modern colors, focusing of course on a quite lovely blue, bottles on the wall, symmetry, etc. The menu was small but varied. Our waiter at first seemed quite accommodating and charming, though later smarmy and unable to take no for an answer regarding dessert or after dinner beverages. We just had water and shortly received the bread and garnished butter, which were absolutely amazing. I have never had so much bread and butter when not that hungry to begin with however I’m glad I did so as the portions and flavors beyond that were slacking and lacking, respectively.

We had the trio of empanadas, including shrimp, beef or pork – I’m not even sure, and chicken, which were okay but not even as good as those you can get in any given square mile in Miami. Further, I believe it was at a very minimum $9 dollars for these quite small empanadas, making them at least twice as expensive on average than those better, home cooked, ones at the any of the Latin bakeries, cafes, and restaurants within a mile from you as noted above. Then we waited for about a year and a half for our seafood tower, with at a Market Price of I believe over $70 bucks, which was just a bust. (more…)

3.5 out of 5

So we arrive a party of four with a reservation and are promptly seated at a table, from which the server removed the “reserved” sign. I appreciate this because the restaurant, being small, was just about full even though it was a Wednesday night. Although we sat for some time, maybe up to 5 minutes, unattended by introduction, menus, nor water, throughout the rest of the evening service was above average, charming, and prompt. Bread sticks shortly arrived followed by complimentary amuse bouche, including a shot glass serving of creamy mushroom soup and a cherry tomato half with a guacamole type sauce on top, both of which were absolutely delicious, as well as a fried potato ball which served its purpose fine. Having previously viewed the regular and Miami Spice menus previously, we all ended up ordering from the latter as it had a diverse list of options for each of the three courses most of which appeared a reasonable bargain for $35 per person. Two of us ordered the same appetizers and entrees while the other two in our party coincidentally matched up on their appetizer and entrée choices, all of which I tried via sharing or otherwise (more…)