Archive for the ‘Medium 2011’ Category

4.25 out of 5

First note: I arrived with high expectations… read along. The venue at Pubbelly is relatively small with a dining room inside and tables outside, very much in the gastropub style for hanging out and having tapas size snacks to share – which is the theme except mostly Asian-ish. The décor and atmosphere is casual and comfortable, hip and increasingly trendy – but not necessarily in a bad way. We got a table right away because it was later but a caveat would be that they do not do reservations and it is both on the smaller size and very popular, although I read they are expanding which is exciting to know. The service was outstanding as it was consistent, polite, informative, and helpful (all key elements of service) throughout the night with only once looking around for our server when we were in a bit of hurry to get the check and go.

The menu is broken down into “small plates”, which make up most of the menu, as well as vegetables and sides, charcuterie and raw, dumplings, bread, noodles and rice, and a few “large plates.” My intent was to get something from the various areas. We started with the shortrib tartare which (more…)

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4.5 out of 5

Moderate location, not too far out of the way; street metered parking easily available most of the time but also a valet if you are so inclined. Décor ranges from the market section on one side, a more modern and simple dining room with a food counter area towards the other side, and down a few steps a lower wine cellar area with a more rustic feel adorned by wine barrel tables and all their wines lining the walls. There is a very good wine selection with some affordable and unique choices – our wine connoisseur was extremely happy with his and could not stop talking about it. Service varies with some at times appearing distracted however for the most part very good – examples include our wine guy being invited to that lower room to search and choose the right wine for him, how well I was attended to our needs when a full wine glass broke, and the very well informed and accommodating staff at the deli/market section. (more…)

4 out of 5

We were swiftly greeted and seated by a, well, very Argentinian older gentlemen who was polite and attentive, both charming smarmy… in a good way. Bread and butter arrived shortly and was delicious… I know ‘cause I at it all. Our pitcher of sangria took some time but let’s assume it’s because it was being made fresh – and it both tasted great and at about 5 large glasses was good for the twenty bucks or so. My wife ordered the bife de chorizo (listed as “sirloin steak” on the menu but feel free to argue with this or any of the following if you know better) rare and it came cooked to order and much to her liking as it fed her twice courtesy of portion control. I on the other hand had the $20 media parrilla, or “half grill” (the full grill is much bigger and only $12 more). This came with one each of chorizo (sausage), morcilla (blood sausage), rinones (kidney), vacio (“flap steak”), entrana (skirt stake), and tiras de asado (short ribs) plus a healthy portion of sweetbreads (thymus and/or pancreatic gland) – my favorite. (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/