Recently, I’ve been on a seafood craze across Miami. I’d like to think it’s inspired by my recent travels to Chile where my fiancé and I indulged in a myriad of foreign seafood dishes that left us a bit nostalgic about the somewhat limited choices in Miami.
However, on a recent visit to Mesamar, the latest restaurant addition to Coral Gables, I was once again stirred by this city’s ability to harbor talent and transfer bold flavors from Latin America through innovative menus. Mesamar quite frankly blew my socks off.
A small restaurant with dimmed inviting lighting all tucked away on Giralda Avenue sets the scene for our dinner that kicks off with a plethora of seafood small plates all unique in their presentation and taste.
The journey began with Lobster Tacos, delicately marinated in yuzu dressing, sweet chili, cilantro and red onion; this lobster taco was quite delicious and a spin on the taco craze that seems to have taken over our city.
We also had a few cold appetizers that were among our favorites. These included the Coco-Nuts Rolls, which was sashimi tuna with caramelized peanuts, shredded coconut and caper sauce. When you bit into the roll you were delighted by the crunch of the peanut and the tasteful surprise left us wanting round two of the Coco-Nut Rolls. The Fish Sashimi was also a great option with citrus yuzu, ponzu, dry miso, olive oil, green shallots, topped with garlic chips. It should also be known that when I plan my visit back we’re going to add the Mango Bagel Roll – a twist on traditional tuna with mango and cream cheese – to our list of must-tries.
For anyone looking for a light, refreshing dish that will open your appetite just enough, the Baby Arugula Salad is the perfect menu item. It brings caramelized pecans, feta cheese, balsamic vinaigrette and truffle oil for the win. It’s a good dish although we would suggest you get a bit more adventurous and try some of the cold appetizers or the scallops. The scallops were perfectly grilled with a thin coat of crunch to the texture that otherwise freaks me out, and a sugar coat of the homemade pear cream sauce and truffle oil. They were seasoned very well, and got tastier with every bite.
When we ventured into main courses, we have to mention that the piece de résistance was the Gorgonzola and Pear Ravioli with Filet Mignon. I was skeptical of the combination at first and tread with caution to eat the first bite but it was truly a delicate, thoughtful dish with bursting flavors and textures. The saltiness and tenderness of the filet mignon was a perfect complement to the buttery taste of the ravioli. Quite frankly, it was my favorite.
Our meal ended with an order of the Whole Fish, which you can choose yourself upon arrival from a selection of fresh fish.
The whole fish is cooked both grilled and fried and served in two portions that are visually separated by the body of the fish itself. Its artistic presentation, accompanied by tostones (fried plantains,) white rice and beans, made me feel like a neophyte to seafood – a big feat for a girl who grew up in a beach town in South America. My childhood consisted of eating whole, fried fish every weekend but it seems like I seldom eat comfort seafood at a restaurant in Miami (specifically one in Coral Gables) so eating this dish brought a new experience to a childhood favorite with a twist of elegance.
As if the meal that we’ve just shared with you was not enticing enough, we were then treated to two desserts that were simple and amazing. The Chocolate Mousse, with its soft and creamy texture gave it a lighter-than-air taste and flawlessness and the Homemade Flan was reminiscent of the kind of dessert that Grandma use to make for me in Colombia when good behavior deserved a reward. I’d have both again in a heartbeat.
Don’t ask how two people attempted to consume all of the above. That’s another (less classy) blog post.
Mel’s take: This restaurant is undoubtedly one of the better places I’ve visited recently. Part of its inviting allure is that its unhyped existence literally had me walk in with zero expectations. The food was amazing, the service was very good and although there were a few, tiny bumps throughout our dinner, it should be noted the place had been open just a few days and there are always a few glitches to fix and learn from along the way.
Standout dish: My fiancé and I obsessed about the Gorgonzola and Pear Ravioli with Filet Mignon every minute of the meal after we tried it. We debated ordering another portion but then realized we were being gluttonous and ungrateful (not really, but we still refrained from another order.) The dish was absolute perfection and the dichotomy of flavors between the sweetness of the pear and the saltiness of the perfectly juicy filet mignon left us at a loss for words. This combination was a bit out of our comfort zone but it’s exactly what we want from a restaurant: to revel in the unexpected.