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Hola, Sra. Martinez - Miami, Design District

Official opening day for Sra. Martinez, the new tapas place from local hero Michelle Bernstein in the old Post Office building in the Design District (a/k/a the former Domo Japones space), is Monday December 1 (Dec 1 may already be fully booked as there was no availability on opentable; I'll be there Dec. 2). They're starting with dinner service Mon-Sat, including late hours Fri and Sat till 2am, and eventually will be phasing in lunch service too.

edited to add contact info -
Sra. Martinez
4000 N.E. 2nd Ave. Miami

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  1. Thanks for the news, I made a rez for Friday night. Figured what could be more fun than to be in the DD for Art Basel and covet a rez at her new joint!

    1. Thanks Frod. Made res for Friday as well. Will hold off on reading your review till Saturday because you'll spoil it for me (your reviews are like eating at the place without leaving home)!

      1. great! I was at Books & Books when she was there a few weeks ago and she didn't sound like it would be open so soon. Look forward to your report!

          1. re: Frodnesor

            Lovely menu, but pretentious descriptions ad-nauseum! Is this really attractive to the culinary population here or just a typical American hook 'em and hype 'em?

            1. re: taiga

              Didn't strike me as particularly pretentious - seems to be a pretty standard layout of "MAIN INGREDIENT" w/ "key other flavor components and/or preparation details" immediately below. Not even any superfluous connectors. I wouldn't call 3 or 4 additional pieces of info beyond, say, "CLAMS" to be overkill.

              I tend to like to know, beyond just the main protein or veg, what the key flavors are of a dish (saves the server a lot of explaining and helps with wine pairings); and, where it might be of interest, where things came from, especially if local.

              What struck you as pretentious or hype?

              1. re: Frodnesor

                Agree with Frod that menu didn't seem pretentious at all. Looks like it would make it very easy to narrow down any questions you might have before ordering. As long as menu descriptions are true, and I'm sure they are, "It aint bragging if it's true", therefore I don't understand the hook 'em and hype 'em reference either.

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  I would have to say that I dont mind seeing it like that, its just enough info to entice me to try practically every item on that menu simply because I know that Michelle's influence will be on the dishes. I have no doubt in the skills of the staff to cook me some great Spanish food!

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Wow! Where shall I begin? With all the genuine respect I feel toward (local hero) Ms. Bernstein, and the love that all of us feel toward Frod, and further props given to the well-intentioned folks who always frequent this board, I wish the culture of celebrity and -- I don't know of another phrase -- American sales-born pretense -- would stop infecting the experience. When I eat outside the country, (occasionally -- honestly -- it is somewhat edible), I can survive with the top line of the menu -- gazpacho, tortilla espanola, pimientas, etc.

                    I don't require the expansive explanations offered us here -- Marcona almonds, Madagascar prawns, sherry gelee, Pedro Ximenez heirloom tomatoes, garlicky-Orange aioli, Eggplant zalouk, and my favorite, Homestead eggs. Hi, my name is Umberto and I'll be your server tonight. May I start you off with a few appetizers? The recommendations, turnover mania, and constantly in business out of business Domo Japonesa hype are sleight of hand, Las Vegas Emeril, domestic affectations.

                    It's all so uppity, nouveau riche, high end, name-droppin' Food Channel to me. The food and decor alone should sustain us, but I am prepared to take my beating!

                    1. re: taiga

                      CRISPY EGGPLANT

                      Yeah, it's descriptive overkill.

                      1. re: taiga

                        I find that interesting, and I'm not criticizing your opinion (and I'm quite grateful for the love), but I just didn't have that reaction at all. If the menu were loaded with frou-frou purple prose (i.e., "sweetbreads delicately napped in a pungent romesco sauce, sprinkled with caperberries hand-plucked by albino midgets, tantalizingly brightened with a squeeze of lemon") I might feel differently, but this reads to me like much more of a "Just the facts, ma'am" approach.

                        "Gazpacho" and "tortilla espanola" and "pimientas" work in a foreign country (especially Spain) because (1) they're in the native language; and (2) they are traditional dishes that everyone grew up with. But - as a for-instance - while Spaniards and foodies may well know that a tortilla espanola is the ubiquitous concotion of eggs and potatoes, and that it's often topped with an aioli, the rest of the dining universe may well be expecting a Mexican flatbread.

                        To me, many of these descriptions contain significant information - a marcona almond is simply in a different class than your usual almond. Heirloom tomatoes are usually a world apart from your average tasteless ethylene-gassed tomato. And I'm always happy to see folks using local produce, which I won't know unless they tell me (and yes, a farm-fresh egg is better than a Sysco egg).

                        As a side note, aside from the other reasons I previously mentioned as to why I appreciate the info, it should be mentioned that with food allergies and intolerances seeming to become increasingly prevalent, a little more detail probably helps both diners and servers.

                        There's no particular slight of hand as to the "in business out of business" thing - Domo Japones went out of business. MB saw an opportunity to take over the lease, and seized it. Restaurants go out of business all the time, and the locations get recycled - particularly when they're interesting ones like this old post office building.

                        So does this make me an uppity nouveau riche high end name-droppin Food Channel watcher? If so, I'll take my beating too. But when all is said and done, I'm just going for the food too (actually could care less about the decor). If the menu gives me a clearer idea of what that food is, I'm all in favor of that.

                        1. re: Frodnesor

                          True Frod and DMO, yet imagine, in Italy, descriptions like these:

                          Two pulverized Herefordshire livestock discs with Pittsburgh's finest Iowa Corn syruped tomato puree plus 56 other flavorful agents, Georgia snipped Verde Allium, and sour burpless cucumber slices on the bias on a coursely groundwinter wheat berry and soft Lily's brioche.

                          I'm not really criticizing the restaurant --you gotta do what you gotta do -- but rather clientele who desires/demands/requires Halston, Gucci, and Fiorucci (much respect to Sister Sledge). While I too applaud the use of local ingredients, and I'm authentically glad that Marcona almonds are awesome, and I further hope there might be Japanese-Pacific basin fleur de sel enhancing the flavor, must we signify everything at the tapas bar?

                          1. re: taiga

                            Two pulverized Herefordshire livestock discs with Pittsburgh's finest Iowa Corn syruped tomato puree plus 56 other flavorful agents, Georgia snipped Verde Allium, and sour burpless cucumber slices on the bias on a coursely groundwinter wheat berry and soft Lily's brioche.

                            You think that is how that menu reads? It took you 4 lines to talk about a burger, she is describing the key components (not the scientific names, and not the descriptive, floral wording) in 4 words or less. I would rather read the 4 main flavor components of a dish off a menu than have a waiter have to answer questions about every single dish and what goes in it. This is especially true when I eat out with my parents, who keep Kosher outside of the house and need to know if anything has pig/shellfish or with someone who is allergic to a common food. If the menu read the way your example describes, I would get up and kick the chef in the chin, maybe twice. But it doesn't. Different strokes, different folks I s'pose.

                            1. re: mikek

                              Certainly, I'm being facetious and utilizing my inalienable 1st Amendment Right to hyperbole. Different strokes for different folks is correct. Let me speak from the "I" perspective. Generally, in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, even Japan, etc. the menu would keep it simple. Generally, there would be some sort of risotto, some sort of paella, some sort of stewed rabbit, something with cream sauce, or some sort of fish. One comes, sits, orders, eats, and talks. It's festive and old school. Generally, the system is not so interactive or so spectator oriented. The waiters wait and need not grovel or entertain to make up ofr the lack of salary. There are no competing TV's telecasting the latest "university" cricket match or basketball game between SW Missouri State and Illinois Wesleyan. I suppose the Kosher client can eat at a kosher restaurant or adjust accordingly. Generally, it's not culinaritainment. It's different. I prefer it. Because I have no better language for it, I called it pretentious thinking it is less offensive than "American." But I'm not looking for trouble, just recognizing that many operations are business first, food second. I'm sure the product Michelle turns out will be solid.

                        2. re: taiga

                          LOL. Well, it is nice to know what you're eating sometimes... I guess I just don't see it as much an expansive explanation as an identifying property.

                          While i'm not versed in the pro's/con's of madagascar prawns to the alternative, I do believe that marcona almonds are awesome and possibly the best almond you can have. It's worth distinguishing that from Planter's i believe.

                          As a paying diner, I like to know what flavors I'm dealing with... sherry/pedro ximenez (also sherry)/ garlicky orange etc are flavors that I think are relevant to the decision making process involved in eating out... As others have mentioned, trying to narrow down the dishes I want to order here is already difficult as is.

                          I just don't get why that's nouveau rich. I like to know that the eggplant on the side is a morrocan eggplant salad as opposed to just saying "Lamb w/ eggplant". Its also pretty cool that a lot of chefs nowadays really are making sure to get local ingredients like 'homestead eggs'.

                          Anyway, I didn't mean to keep ranting. I can't wait to try this place and cannot yet narrow down my "order" to less than double digits under the Caliente section. Being that I have finals through the 11th, I will not get to try this place until then, and am anxiously awaiting everybody's reviews!

                          BTW, found this review last night:


                          1. re: dmo305

                            In the same boat DMO, though I may take a couple hours off from law school studying to clear the head and fill the stomach before the 13th.

                            1. re: mikek

                              Haha I had my finger on the trigger for this Friday night but Evidence is kicking my ass!
                              Plus, with such an attractive list of choices I fully intend on stuffing myself until I can no longer think. I'm planning on pinchos, half the center and the entire left column of caliente!
                              Slightly curious as to why there is no jamon iberico on the menu...

                              1. re: dmo305

                                I had the same thought (re jamon iberico). My guess is that the price point would be prohibitive for what is striving to be a more budget-friendly place. Even at relatively modest places like Delicias de Espana or Copas y Tapas, a small plate will still set you back $30+. I suspect that sooner or later it will be on offer as a special or otherwise.

                                1. re: dmo305

                                  Do you go to UM law? Evidence is awful, I had it with Graham down here. After that exam treat yourself with some tapas and rioja or sangria. BTW, does anyone know what their house drink menu looks like? The review posted above mentioned homemade bitters, house infused liquors, etc.

                                  1. re: The Chowfather

                                    Yesyes, is why I am actually planning on avoiding all of the litigation and going straight to the trusts & estates transactional end haha.

                            2. re: taiga

                              I sometimes think the ingredient explanations are to justify the price. For example...

                              "why the F*** did I just pay $8 for a couple of dates with bacon wrapped around them?"

                              "Oh, they came with Valdeon Blue and Marcona Almonds? Oh, that sounds rare and expensive. Makes sense to me!"

                          2. re: taiga

                            I don't know if pretentious is the right word. More like 'delicious'? Does anyone know if this is going to be a "changing daily" menu or if there will just be additional specials or what?

                            1. re: dmo305

                              If it's going to be like Michy's (and I have a hunch it will be) I'd expect 50-75% of the menu to stay pretty steady while the rest of it will get updated with the seasons and the chefs' whims, with daily specials here and there. From what's been reported it seems they spent some time (including a trip to Spain) planning the menu so I'd be surprised to see the whole thing change every day.

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Why would you want to change that menu?? Looks great. Frod, I know you are excited about this place and are a tapas fan so what are your initial thoughts on the menu?

                                1. re: The Chowfather

                                  What are my initial thoughts? Sheesh, where to start? How many things can I order tomorrow without my family thinking I'm a complete pig? How many visits will it take to work my way through the menu? When did bacon-wrapped dates become the official snack of the Design District? Who do I talk to about getting callos on the menu? Am I the only person in town who eats tripe stew?

                                  It's an interesting mix of old school traditional tapas (pan con tomate, boquerones, roasted piquillos, tortilla espanola, bravas, gambas a la plancha, garbanzos fritos, rabo encendido ...) and new, or at least cross-cultural (tiraditos, sea urchin sandwich, kalbi pintxos, fish cheeks w/ caponata). It is not going to be easy to choose, just about everything sounds good.

                                  I read it was a goal of MB's to keep the price point below $18, and other than an 18oz T-Bone, the menu holds to that (indeed lots of things for under $12). Will be interesting to see how the portions are. Somewhat surprised not to see tapas and "ration" options for larger portions, like you often see in Spain.

                                  Looking forward to trying it out.

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    I looked over the menu quite extensively last night. While not many of the cold dishes really wow me, I am excited to try a number of the hot dishes. I was surprised to see that there was no small/large option a la Michy's but I guess every place needs its own identity. Portion size will be key. If the plates measure up to the small/medium plates at MGFD then it will be great.

                        3. made reservations for this saturday. can't wait!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jessicam29

                            Does anyone else find it strange that Chef Bernstein doesn't have websites for either of her restaurants? Chef Bernstein, if you are listening, restaurant websites are cool!

                            1. re: Debrouillard

                              It's kind of quaint and fun to think that she's too busy playing with food and being physically active in her circles to get a website going. It may be inconvenient and a silly oversight, but I like the idea of a really good restaurant sans the extensive marketing

                          2. Alrighty then. Reporting back from our first visit to Sra. Martinez last night. 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. Here's the rundown ->

                            - 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: www.madagascar-gambas.com) 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 pre-Paradigm dinner we had at Neomi’s 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.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Frodnesor

                              I really liked the rabbit loin in pancetta (great flavor) and uni "cuban" sandwich (so whimsical)

                              1. re: ankimo

                                things i would recommend ordering:
                                poached fried egg
                                rabbit loin in pancetta
                                galbi pinchos
                                fresh sea urchin sandwich
                                crispy pork belly
                                crispy artichokes

                                1. re: ankimo

                                  I could learn a thing or two from your brevity.

                              2. re: Frodnesor

                                Wow. Just when I thought that post was going to end it kept going...and going...and going... Thanks for the thorough report, Frod. Im looking forward to checking this one out.

                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                  Woah, nice review! Sounds like I need to make a trip down there.

                                  "I recall this sort of oozy quality being typical of many versions we had in Spain."
                                  The best part, right? We're one of the only countries, I think, that cooks its eggs so thoroughly.

                                  "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 love it when there are little crunchy bits sort of interspersed around the potatoes - especially good if the sauce is nice and spicy. Yeah, I agree you've got to dress these things in the kitchen.

                                  "they brought it out with a candle stuck in one of the cheeses because it was Mrs. F’s birthday (Yay! Birthday Cheese!)"
                                  I'll never eat birthday cake again. ;-)

                                  "(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)"
                                  Is that one of those casual places by the Reina Sofia? I LOVED their calamari sandwiches.

                                  To chime in on the menu - I don't find it pretentious, but I feel like that's a defensive reaction born of a very real environment surrounding food these days. Actually, I quite like the simplicity of the menu. Question: Do they toss out any amuse-bouche? At the bar, maybe? My favorite bar in Spain would dish out this fabulous Spanish goat cheese and tomato salad with a very lightly herbed pesto when you order canas at the bar. Or sometimes a mixed seafood salad in nice oil with bread. Would it be too staid with the DD crowd to serve some of that up?

                                  1. re: johnmlinn

                                    Yes, there was an El Brillante literally right around the corner from the Reina Sofia. Casual place, flourescent lights, a couple long counters, and used paper napkins all over the floor (one tapas bar tradition I do not see Sra. Martinez adopting).

                                    Don't know if they do so at the bar, but no amuse-bouche for our table. Sadly I think so many people are such picky eaters these days that it would often go to waste.

                                  2. re: Frodnesor

                                    Feel like I'm late to the party but we decided to brave the Basel crowd and made it to Ms. Martinez tonight. Given the menu's exhaustive descriptions of each dish and Frod's quick report we had absolutely no idea what to expect (my how sarcasm can seep from one thread to another). The place was as packed as we'd expected but we were seated immediately. The waitstaff looked rushed, hurried, and a little stressed (more on that later) but very efficient and on top of everything.

                                    We had an inkling of what we were going to order before we'd gotten the menus; however, the cocktails menu unexpectedly jumped out at us. We were pulled into a Manhattan (me) with bourbon steeped with ham and a bloody mary (Ms. L2M) made with tomato water and horseradish vodka. The Manhattan was good, but the bloody mary was absurdly good. Made with basically strained tomatoes to get a clear "juice" it was lighter than a traditional bloody mary, refreshing, vegetally (sp), spicy (in a horseradish kinda way) and a little salty from the addition of a caperberry. For anyone that's a fan of savory cocktails this is a winner.

                                    Crispy artichokes - came out piping hot, crispy and nongreasy with an excellent lemon aioli dip.

                                    Croquetas - also fresh and hot, were tasty but a little meager in size (literally pinky sized).
                                    Garbanzos with morcilla - liked much more by my fiancee than me. The morcilla is crumbled and allowed to melt into the garbanzos along with soft apple pieces. What I didn't like was a little too much of what I believe to be vinegar. It was a little overpowering but that was just my preference.

                                    Razor clam special - I'm not a razor clam expert but the last couple of times I've had them they've either been overcooked (at Sardinia) or, in this case, undercooked. I'd rather have the latter; however, the clams were a little cold in the middle and the entire dish lacked salt. Maybe they could borrow some from Gotham Steak.

                                    Uni sandwich - it was delicious. I hope they do more "sandwich" type dishes as the grilled, pressed bread was delicious on its own.

                                    Sweetbreads - compared to the ones at Michy's, were a little disappointing, mostly because of the romesco sauce. It tasted a little too strong of some type of roasted red pepper had been added and was a little less chunky than I'd had before. The sweetbreads themselves were cooked perfectly as expected from MB.

                                    Desserts are expanded Spanish classics. We opted for the soft goat cheese. Were thrown for a loop as the olive oil cake accompaniment was more of a cracker and the membrillo were two squirts of paste that looked like they came out of a toothpaste tube. But cheese is cheese and it was good, plus the sugared thyme sprig, which we thought was something out of left field, pushed the dessert up a notch.

                                    I spoke with the waitress a little towards the end of the meal and asked why the staff looked so stressed. She said it was opening jitters and everyone knew Michelle's rep was on the line. My experience, and I think Frod yours was similar, was excellent servicewise. The meal was paced fine and we never waited or wanted for anything. I think the staff was more concerned and stressed than they needed to be. They were doing a great job, they just needed to have fun with it! David - smile some more and it'll be contagious! I didn't see a single unhappy diner and everyone was having a good time.

                                    Overall I'm glad that Sra. Martinez has moved into the neighborhood. It's a little stuffier than I thought it'd be, but I think it was more the clientele and the time of year than anything else. At it's core it's a tapas bar and my image of tapas bars is standing at a smoky bar (something tough to do in this location), ordering dishes you can eat with your hands (or at least with toothpicks) so it won't interrupt with your beer or wine. The fact that we got our plates and utensils swapped out 3 times during our meal just took away some of the casualness of what I think a tapas bar should be (I asked the waitress to leave my dishes after the 2nd swap just to save on some dishwashing and contribute to saving the environment). And I agree with Frod's additions, especially the iberico, fish and montaditos. With the quality ingredients already used in other dishes there's no reason pata negra shouldn't be offered. And fish, of which a pil pil in a ceramic dish would be ideal, would be welcome. And montaditos, especially as cold starters topped with a fresh seafood salad (tuna or octopus) or something warm would be an ideal bar snack (drink in one hand and pincho in the other). Would also like to see meatballs because, well, I like meatballs. And I'd like to eat them with toothpicks.

                                    1. re: lax2mia

                                      Interesting insight on the service (which, I would agree, was outstanding and particularly so given that my visit was on their second day open). While I understand why someone would do it, it is incredibly brave to open up a new restaurant right in the middle of what is probably the biggest influx of national and international bigshot visitors that Miami has all year (Art Basel weekend). That is really walking on a highwire with no net, and all indications are that Sra. Martinez is pulling it off. Perhaps even more amazing is that Domo Japones closed its doors October 6. This whole thing came together in only 2 months.

                                      1. re: Frodnesor

                                        Came together in 2 months + MB was promoting a book during that time. I think they've pulled off the near impossible and they should be ecstatic about it.

                                  3. I had a tough day of law school finals studying yesterday and decided on a whim to stop in on my way home to see if they had space. The host David could not have been more gracious, sat me at the bar immediately. The house cocktail list was interesting, and one was well deserved. I started with a drink of muddled strawberry, vodka, jalapeno syrup, basil and lime. It was not sweet at all, and the flavors of each ingredient were perfectly delineated, with the jalapeno having the taste but not the heat (as opposed to the one at the Setai or at Stanton Social in NYC). I also loved the Spain-only wine list, and will have to delve further into that on my next visit.

                                    As for food, I started with the manchego/mushroom croqueta with cranberry marmalade - outstanding, not too greasy, manchego deliciousness with the earthiness of the mushroom played perfectly with the tartness of the cranberries.

                                    Went for the egg dish next, which Frod so eloquently explained before - simply delicious.

                                    Finally, went for the bean stew with duck/foie gras sausage. Just delicious. I lapped up all of the sauce with some bread.

                                    Had to get the dulce de leche stuffed donuts for dessert, those were unreal, not greasy, the dulce de leche was gooey and delicious, and the play with the espresso granita was fantastic.

                                    With a cocktail, a glass of wine, the three mains and a dessert all to myself the meal came out to about 75 with tax and tip. A fantastic addition to the design district.

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: mikek

                                      You guys eat much better than I did in law school.

                                      1. re: Frodnesor

                                        After going to Tulane and experiencing all of the food, music, nightlife, etc. that New Orleans has to offer and moving down here, I am fairly certain my parents are ready to lose me haha. Fortunately I have been able to work this semester, which has mainly supported my efforts to explore the world of wine and my eating habit, otherwise I would really be up the creek!

                                        New Orleans was an easy city to eat VERY good food and at a low price. Unfortunately, Miami does not have quite as many holes-in-the-wall or cheap eats. However, if you go to Martinez and refrain from drinking, you could walk out with 2 or 3 tapas and a soda for about 30 bucks when all is said and done, certainly not unreasonable.

                                          1. re: mikek

                                            my last final (Pro Resp) is on the 15th... counting down the days!!

                                            1. re: Marsjt

                                              Did not realize there were so many law students on here. Maybe we should set up a dinner somewhere to celebrate the end of finals?

                                              1. re: mikek

                                                i'll be hitting up sra. martinez first and foremost on the 15th or 16th with family. i'm open to any "chowL" dinner if we manage to set something up over the break!!

                                          2. re: Frodnesor

                                            bah! Mrs. I is making me forego all the fun until her finals are over! No Sra. Martinez until the 18th!

                                            1. re: Icantread

                                              no need to re-hash the menu. Did the Unagi Sandwich, the bacon wrapped dates, chicken liver pate was great as well. Needed more bread and they brought over the table bread for me rather than the thin sliced bread that came out with the original order. The doughnuts and greek yogurt ice cream as well were all great. There was nothing bad about what we had from the menu and looking forward to taking in more of the menu on future visits. Another comment on the service is that everyone worked as a team. Servers did not walk by other servers tables without seeing if there was anything to take away. Very pleasant and friendly. Seems an extension of Michelle as she has the biggest and sincerest smile I have ever seen!

                                              Had a chance to talk to Michelle briefly and she said that she had originally wanted the space prior to Domo. But she was too late as the lease was already signed. She said the concept was something that has been in the works for quite some time so that could attribute to her hitting the ground running and getting it off the ground so well as it was planned and well prepared. As she put it, it came full circle for her to be able to do what she wanted and where she wanted.

                                              Question, it is a cute concept, but what is with the envelopes with the menu?

                                              1. re: jmdhsmiami

                                                It was formerly a post office, so its an homage to that.

                                        1. Very high marks for our visit there last night, we encountered none of the glitches that might befall a restaurant's first week. Granted we were in early, so seating delays were not a risk for us as the place was not full when we sat down.

                                          Food was very very good, we also had an excellent red wine which I believe was about $60/bottle. The martini called the "Martinez" or similar was excellent and included a jalepeno juice, I wasn't sure what to expect but I had two of them and could easily have had two more.

                                          Our server was excellent and knowledgeable on all our menu questions, the general manager visited our table and we had no suggestions when he asked if there was anything lacking. We really had a flawless experience and it was all very well priced.

                                          The red (poblano?) peppers, the chicken pate and the 3-cheese plate were our favorite cold selections . . . the lamb and the rabbit were our favorite hot selections.

                                          I look forward to returning.

                                          1. Went last Thursday and had a great time. Since Art Basel was in full swing the area was buzzing with gallery shows and some of my fav DD stores open late. Made res via opentable for 7pm for 2. Valet was only $7 bucks which i thought resonable since no public parking could be found. Was seating quickly by a nice hostess and welcomed by the manager very cordially. The space is bilevel and very smarty decorated with some Barcelona elements, although two-tops can get crowded near the eating bar downstairs, thankfully the staff was well synced. Server was knowledable but not pushy, thanks to other posters (god bless you!) we already had an idea of what to order. We tried about 8 plates. Standouts were (in no particular order):

                                            Pork Belly (its plated with a terrific salad, i think it was with this one!)
                                            White Bean Stew (i will order two next time!)
                                            Croquettes (although only 3 small ones)
                                            Galbi Pinchos (tender and lovely)
                                            Tortilla Espanola (which was in frio but was caliente and delicious)
                                            Dulce de Leche Dougnuts

                                            I got a good view of the service bar while eating and the mixologist is awesome to watch. Cocktails were outstanding.

                                            Only drawback was the rabbit. The flavor was fabulous and the side of some kind of fried mashed potato was awesome. But being a rabbit novice all i tasted was bacon flavored protien. It was delicious i dont know if that was a good way the know if i like rabbit.

                                            I agree envelopes are cute but should be taken back after presented maybe?

                                            Overall I cant wait to go back and try the other cant misses!

                                            1. Had our first experience at Sra. Martinez last night and it was just fantastic. Great to see Michelle and David looking so excited and probably not a little bit exhausted. Many thanks to all for your excellent notes... we had a ridiculous assortment of show stoppers with several bottles of the Alta Moncayo to wash it down -- on that note, we were told that the wine list is going to be significantly expanded soon by Michy's sommelier (who is doing double duty)... so something to look forward to there.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: johnloomis

                                                Hoping for lightening to strike twice as we are headed back again tonight! Tried to find any excuse to return and as luck would have it, we are taking a party of 6 to make them drink the kool-aid! ; )

                                                1. re: jmdhsmiami

                                                  I am ridiculously in love with the $4 Borsao, and the tortilla. Also, oddly, the croquetas, which I compare to another croqueta at another great restaurant in my column, Culinary Cgae Match at Miami.com For photos of said food, and of the delicious hand-cranked Berkel slicer, please go to http://dailycocaine.blogspot.com/2008...
                                                  I also loved the duck and foie gras sausage with white beans in a port reduction, but it was a little pricey if you are going to share. Do not share.

                                                  1. re: Miami Danny

                                                    MD - I also made the huge mistake of sharing the white bean "soup"... never again!

                                              2. Well, I finally made a trip in to check this place out with a few friends this past week. As was the case with my first visit to MGFD, I was slightly skeptical because of all the hype on these boards. I have to admit though, Sra Martinez totally lived up to the acclaim. Here is a rundown of our meal...

                                                Tortilla espanola - I am not a big fan of onions but one of my friends is a vegetarian (which totally ruled out anything blood sausage related...sigh) so we selected a good amount of friendly options to share with her as well. This was one and I really liked it. Nice and warm, soft, and tasty. A great start to the meal.

                                                Jamon serrano - another nice start. Really liked the fig jam as thats something Id never had paired with a cured meat. The meat was, well, your regular jamon serrano. Did the job as a nice starter and even the veg head had a teeny tiny bite.

                                                Croquetas - I have to admit this was the one dish that didnt live up to all of the (over)hype. We all thought they were just "ok" at best. Nothing wowed me here. I did like the crunch and the manchego but thats about it. They were also better without the sauce (some sort of berry? I dont remember...) We got 2 orders because fellow Hounds raved about them but said the portion was small. At $9/pop Id have rather stuck with 1 and got something else.

                                                Crispy artichokes - these were great (and much deserving of the hype). I annihilated most of these when my friends were focused on another dish.

                                                Fried(?) calamari - Not sure why it says "fried" here as the calamari was more of a saute but this was a huge winner at the table. Absolutely delicious. The squid ink risotto was a nice addition as well.

                                                Sea Urchin sandwich - I have to admit I got a culinary boner when I saw this on the menu upon its release here. Well, I took one bite and....schwing! This was a fun idea for a dish. Simple yet effective. Id like to see a thinner bread used maybe as that just gets in the way. Uni had that fresh ocean taste and had my inner chi glowing a nice yellow afterwards.

                                                Clams - this was the best dish of the night for me. These clams were puny (and if anyone knows what kind of clams they are, please enlighten me) and loaded with flavor. The menu didnt indicate it but I thought I tasted some form of bacon or ham in the sauce? Either way, this dish kicked major ass to the point where we had to continually knock away servers' hands from taking the dish of broth while we waited for bread (surprised this dish didnt come w/ bread) to sop up the sauce (bread came with a really tasty olive oil too). The sauce was awesome.

                                                White bean stew w/ duck/foie sausage - having got food poisoning on Wed night from an undercooked sausage at one of my favorite restaurants (resto was dark, I noticed sausage was soft when i cut it but it looked cooked and tasted fine, great even. Not so much about 6 hours later and for the next 18 hours... it was rough) I was skeptical about stepping back into the sausage arena. I thought these were good but I wasnt crazy about the sauce. Too sweet and the sausage was already sweet enough. The beans were, well, beans. My veggie friend liked the few she had.

                                                A big "thank you" to Miami Danny for the Borsao recommendation. What a great wine for the price. Upon first sip I said, "well, it is what it is", but it got better and definitely went with the food we ordered. I also liked how light it was. $20 bottles at a resto in Miami are a rare breed these days.

                                                Some other highlights... The service was fantastic without being annoying. I cant stand when the server is hawking over the table every 5 minutes asking if everything is ok. Our server was timely and he and the food runners really did a great job with table space management. There wasnt a square inch wasted and they removed empties in a timely manner. Our waiter was very friendly and helpful and other waitstaff were happy to help answer a question or provide a pen if he was not in the immediate area. One thing that I really enjoy is a knowledgeable bartender and one of the guys at the upstairs bar (forget his name) really knew his stuff. By stuff I mostly mean bourbon because thats my game. Their take on a manhattan was different but well liked by all. They also carry Michters small batch and rye which I had just talked with my old man about earlier that day. Id never had it so I got a sample and liked it. Bartender said they wanted something different and this one is definitely not your average barstock bourbon. My friends thought the envelope menus were kinda lame until I explained the post office connection. Not the most environmentally friendly idea (at my friend's insistence we circled our order so that one was probably thrown out and Im sure others have done that) but I guess it allows for more in-n-out seasonal menu items.

                                                Overall it was a great meal at a great price ($150 for 9 dishes, 1 bottle of wine, tax and tip) and Ive already got a bunch of new items Id like to try on my next visit with the Counselor and the Turk.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Blind Mind

                                                  Did you try the ham-infused bourbon?

                                                  There's a butcher shop that's had t-shirts made that say "Bacon - The Gateway Meat." Glad to hear serrano ham is playing that role effectively too w/ your vegetarian friend.

                                                  Very nice incorporation of "culinary boner" BTW. Well done.

                                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                                    I knew that would get a laugh haha. I did have the manhattan w/ ham infused bourbon. Didnt taste much of the ham but I know it was there because I saw the bottle he poured which was cloudy with bits of the ham in there. In this case, the orange and bitters overpowered any sort of ham flavor that may have been there. One major thing I liked about the drinks there was the ice cubes. Big square cubes. When I drink bourbon, I drink it on the rocks. One thing I cant stand is when the bartender loads the glass with ice, especially small cubes that melt quickly. With these cubes, its 3 to a glass. Nice.

                                                    Speaking of the most awesome food ever created (aka "bacon")... I recently read a local blog who enlightened me with the greatest thing Ive ever made - bacon butter. I made a grilled cheese w/ bacon and grilled it in the bacon butter. Next thing I knew some woman named Mary showed up and said we'd never met but she was somehow pregnant with my child...

                                                    1. re: Blind Mind

                                                      Yeah forgot the bartender upstairs-worth the trek. Actually made me what I consider to be the best pure mojito I've ever drunk. That was after I gave him the mojito challenge (I generally think the drink is terribly made and over-hyped-especially, oddly, here in Miami). I started with the Martinez, which is a classic that tasted just right-the bartender uses homemade stuff that he pours from beakers and test tubes. Remember this name-Matthew Goldberg. He has vaulted to the top.

                                                      1. re: Miami Danny

                                                        Ate there again last night and tried the Michters on the rocks which I enjoyed. I also think this place might be appropriate for a chowdown. Maybe Im just saying that because the last 2 people Ive gone with have either had dietary restrictions or no sense of culinary adventure and things like rabbit, pork belly, foie gras, and bone marrow had to be passed on much to my chagrin. Funny aside - I asked my date last night if she would eat sweetbreads and she replied with a happy face and a "yes". We were discussing some other food that she had no desire to try later in the evening post-meal (mightve been the marrow) when I asked, "You do know what sweetbreads are, right?" She had no idea and didnt want to know hahaha. She liked em though!

                                                        I thought the roasted piquillo peppers were tasty, especially when we paired them w/ the jamon serrano. The sweetbreads were fantastic too. Those were the only 2 new items I tried... :(

                                                        1. re: Blind Mind

                                                          Don't worry, Blind Mind, I am prepared to eat 2 orders of everything on that menu.

                                                      2. re: Blind Mind

                                                        If you love bacon - you should take a trip to Talula. I recently found out on my last visit there that they make their own bacon, pancetta, italian sausage tasso ham and a few other tasty pork products that I can't remember. Anyway, Talula never fails me. It's one of my favorites.

                                                  2. Went for a Post Happy Hour snack...circa 9 pm..was prety full inside so we grabbed a 2 top outside...Michelle Bernsteins husband was at the front and as usual was so nice and easy going...we ordered:

                                                    ******Mushroom croquetas with the some kind of berry dipping sauce ( Croquetas were fresh and crunchy with a hot creamy center) so delic..great combo with the dipping sauce
                                                    ****Cheese Plate- 3 cheeses (Manchego and a Murcia al Vino were greato, and one blue(Valdeon) too strong for my taste, and each was paired with a sweet compliment quince jam, honey, and fig jelly)
                                                    ****Mushroom Saute- assortment of mushrooms..dining mate thought they were salty I thought they were perfect..earthy and fun assortment of mushrooms
                                                    Patatas Bravas we were excited to taste but they were out of them
                                                    Dessert- french toast like with banana figs and maple nut icecream..great combo came out warm..only complaint was not enough bananans for being a banana dessert

                                                    Overall solid B+/A- in my book....service was good...food was solid(only complaint is not so many non meat main options)...but in the end it hit the spot!

                                                    1. Dropped in at about 1:30 am last Saturday with my girlfriend for a late bite. There was one other table seated but they left not long after we got there, making us the only customers at that time. The staff were all friendly and we never felt rushed, even though I'm sure everyone was ready to go home after a long night.
                                                      We ordered:
                                                      Caldo Gallego
                                                      Bacon wrapped Dates
                                                      Poached Fried Egg
                                                      Rabbit Loin in Pancetta
                                                      Roasted Marrow
                                                      Galbi Pinchos
                                                      Everything was really delicious, although my favorites were anything wrapped in bacon and the Galbi, which was a nice addition to the menu. I really liked the croquettas but at $2 a pop... i'll save them for special occasions, lol.
                                                      Drinks-wise we had a couple cocktails, my GF ordering a lychee martini which was off the menu (and delicious) and I had the manhattan made with ham infused bourbon. I couldn't particularly distinguish the ham flavor but it was a great drink and definitely fun thinking about how I couldn't even order a beverage w/o having some pork in it.

                                                      For dessert we had the Dulce de leche filled Donuts with the frozen espresso, which were awesome and a must get.

                                                      Towards the end of the meal, Chef Berenice came by and chatted with us for several minutes about the restaurant, business, the Spain trip, and how she was happy that people were finally ordering the marrow (it was very good!). She was very nice and also mentioned how they are committed to being a later dining option, esp on the weekends and said that even if there are no customers that they will not close until 2 am(11 weeknights).

                                                      This past weekend, met with 5 friends visiting from out of town for dinner and drinks. With 7 people together, our buying power was greatly magnified and we really got to taste a lot of items. (GO BIG!)
                                                      We ordered:
                                                      Caldo Gallego
                                                      Tortilla Espanola (also ordered the version plus chorizo)
                                                      Crispy Pork Belly
                                                      Dates (x6 i think!)
                                                      Patatas Bravas (served sauce on side, + garlic aoli)
                                                      Chickpeas w/ Morcilla
                                                      Poached Fried Egg
                                                      Rabbit Loin in pancetta
                                                      Crispy Eggplant
                                                      Crispy Artichokes
                                                      Roasted Marrow
                                                      Uni Sandwich
                                                      Quail Pinchos
                                                      Galbi Pinchos

                                                      Dulce de Leche Donuts w/ frozen espresso
                                                      Banana Fig Torreja
                                                      Grilled goat cheese

                                                      Seriously, everything was great. I was toasted as a freaking genius for picking this place and all I could think was that this is too too easy. The standouts according to the group were: Dates, Pork Belly, Fried Artichokes and desserts. Everything was on point but i particularly liked the artichokes, tortilla, rabbit and the pinchos. I would've liked for the skin on the quail to be crispy but that that point I feel like i'm digging deep to find something wrong with the meal.

                                                      I can't get over how smoothly this place is running in such a short amount of time. In two visits everything went without a hitch with the minor exception of a forgotten order of patatas and of tortilla, which was quickly remedied. This place has instantly risen to among the best in town right now and likely there to stay if these meals are any indication.

                                                      Ahh, feels so good.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: dmo305

                                                        Nice to hear they're committed to the late night thing. Agree that the level of execution right out of the starting gate is truly remarkable.

                                                      2. We paid a return visit to Sra. M over this weekend (which I've been plotting pretty much since our first visit). Sat at the downstairs bar this time, which is a nice place to grab a bite. It was maybe half full when we got in around 7pm, filled up pretty quickly, but seats turned at a decent rate (some people may just be there for a drink or a nibble) so it probably is going to provide a nice opportunity to try to squeeze in without a reservation on busy nights.

                                                        The downstairs "bar" is actually not really a bar at all, as best I could tell, but rather more a wing of the kitchen, as it is the staging and prep area for some of the cold items. The Berkel slicer is plowing through jamon serrano pretty much constantly and they also assemble the pan con tomate (which I often saw draped with ham) and the cheese plates here, possibly other items as well. It has a bustling feel without being so noisy or crowded that you can't have a conversation.

                                                        We tried several items we missed the first time around ->

                                                        - nuts - mostly lovely marcona almonds, along with some brazil nuts that paled in comparison. Nice to nibble on along with a drink, would have been wonderful with a glass of sherry (I did notice they had several sherries by the glass but we'd ordered a bottle of wine). We left behind a few of the second-fiddle brazil nuts.

                                                        - calamari a la plancha - grilled calamari served over a bed of arroz negro (rice flavored and colored w/ squid ink) with a circle of herb oil surrounding it. Both the calarmari (served w/ both rings from the bodies and tentacles) and the rice were nice, though I didn't think the rice quite captured the deep seafood flavors of some other versions I've had. I would have liked to see a bigger portion on this too, seeing as neither squid nor rice are expensive ingredients.

                                                        - garbanzos w/ morcilla - I liked this quite a bit, as others have noted the morcilla is taken out of the casing and done as a crumble, rather than being left intact, but what I really liked was the cubes of apple added to the garbanzos and sausage. Mrs. F, who is not a big morcilla fan, liked this one a lot too. But I'll say it again - you know what would really make this dish complete? Some tripe. (Somehow I think I'm singing solo on this one).

                                                        - chopped salad - with Greek flavors - feta, tomato, red onion, cucumber, green peppers, etc. I'm just not much of a salad guy usually, what can I say.

                                                        - rabo encendido - a real winner. Oxtails must be given a long braise, I'm guessing in a red wine and tomato based braising liquid, until meltingly tender, then the meat is pulled off the bone and stacked onto little toasts. Me, I like pulling the meat off the weirdly shaped oxtail bones and sucking on the cartilaginous bits on the ends, but this is certainly a more elegant presentation. If you like the short ribs at Michy's, I'm betting you will like this dish.

                                                        - monk(fish) cheeks - nice bits of monkfish (aptly called the poor man's lobster for its texture, and to a lesser degree flavor), served together with some beans (cranberry beans?) and a bit of broth. I thought this could have used something to brighten the flavors more than the beans did.

                                                        - mushroom saute - mostly some little buggers, I think they may have been honshimeji mushrooms, a simple saute with a shot of sherry, rich and dense with umami goodness. Even better over some bread to give some textural contrast (they'd make a great montadito).

                                                        We couldn't resist ordering the white bean stew w/ duck/foie sausage again too. What a great dish. Mrs. F thought these were better than the great judion beans we had in Segovia.

                                                        We closed with the goat cheese and honey "dessert." I put "dessert" in quotes because, while listed in the desserts, this struck me as really a lot more like a composed cheese course - which is completely cool with me, but it might surprise some diners. A round of a really nice goat cheese (white, pasty and creamy in the middle, gooey and golden around the edges and with a nice soft white rind) is warmed, topped with a smear of honey and a sprinkle of thyme leaves and served with olive oil crackers. This really is my ideal way to end a meal.

                                                        Noticed a few other additions to the menu from our first visit, including a caldo gallego, and a whole fish of the day - this time, a 1 lb yellowtail, de-boned but presented with head and tail according to our waitress.

                                                        Service was again just spotless. Again we asked that our dishes just be brought out as they're ready, and whether by luck or planning had a well-timed procession of 1-2 dishes at a time over the course of our meal. I continue to be amazed at how smoothly the place is running and how comfortable and "lived-in" it already feels.

                                                        1. Went to Sra. Martinez for dinner on Friday night. This was a first visit here. Just a few thoughts on the various interesting dishes that I tasted:

                                                          Sea urchin sandwich - I think this was the item on the menu that I was most excited about and it did not disappoint. The ratio of pungent sea urchin flavor to bread base was just about perfect and the other flavors did not disrupt the main focus of the dish. The temperature of the dish was also nicely tuned as the flavor of sea urchin really stands out when slightly heated but can turn bitter when too hot. This dish really hit all the right notes for my taste buds.

                                                          Roasted bone marrow - This offered an interesting combination of flavors but there was a problem with an uneven distribution of marrow among the bone pieces. It made the dish rather difficult to share among a group and the overall quantity of marrow did not make a satisfying portion. I probably would not order this dish again although I really liked the concentrated sherry flavors of the tomato marmalade that came with it.

                                                          Quail pinchos - The quail meat was very flavorful and the pomegranate glaze provided the right contrasting flavors. I would have personally preferred that the harissa flavoring was more pronounced but I still enjoyed the dish as prepared.

                                                          Rabbit in pancetta - I thought this was a great preparation and actually better than the preparation at Michy's. It has been a few months since I had the Michy's version but there was definitely a higher ratio of pancetta to rabbit here and it was more tightly wound. The rabbit pieces also seemed smaller and thus remained more tender after cooking. The pannisse was also a great touch in adding further richness to the dish. This was my second favorite dish of the night after the sea urchin sandwich.

                                                          Clams - The flavor combination here was relatively simple but worked so well together. I can't really put my finger on just how the flavors combined but the sauce left from this dish was delightful. As others have noted, this dish should really come with some bread to soak up that sauce. We had to ask for some to be brought to the table.

                                                          Sweetbreads - This was about on par with the preparations at Michy's. I agree with Frodnesor's comments above that the accompaniments have on occasion been better at Michy's but the actual sweetbreads were about as good as I've had them, just lightly crisp on the outside and succulent, bordering-on-creamy toward the center. The caperberries were probably my favorite secondary component of this particular preparation.

                                                          Crispy artichokes - I am a huge fan of artichokes and these were just beautifully fried. They retained their tender flavor but in texture transformed to an almost flaky dough crispiness on the outside. And while there was barely any excess oiliness from the preparation, what there was dissolved in the relative acidity in the dipping sauce.

                                                          Croquetas - I liked these better than the jamon and blue cheese variation that I remember from Michy's. However, the mushroom and cheese flavors did not really enhance each other. Both were flavorful but there was no fusion between those flavors. There was a marmalade that came with this as well and it contrasted nicely with the cheese but was kind of overpowering relative to the mushroom flavors.

                                                          Greek yogurt ice cream - This came with a sweet tomato marmalade and a basil syrup. The basil syrup really made this dessert shine for me. My experience with basil in desserts has been inconsistent before and this was really a pleasant surprise as to how well the flavors blended.

                                                          Overall the experience was really exceptional and Michelle Bernstein continues to deliver some of the best food in the Miami area. Service had some minor kinks but was still much better than average. Sra. Martinez is definitely entering my top ten list of dining destinations around Miami.

                                                          1. I finally got around to Sra. Martinez after much hype and excitement. I was worried that after all the great reviews, the experience could never live up.. but much to my delight- it was PERFECT. The one hitch during the whole night was that they had run out of the rabbit loin wrapped in pancetta, which i knew was one of the standouts for you guys. Thankfully, from reading the boards I had plenty of other dishes i was happy to taste:

                                                            -crispy pork belly= not bad, but nowhere nearly as flavorful as MGFD which is too closely located to not compare.

                                                            -rabo encendido= best dish of the night! the flavor oozing out of the braised oxtail took me back to many dishes I had at tapas bars in sevilla this summer while studying abroad.

                                                            -soft poached egg= the egg was perfectly cooked. sous vide maybe?...served with chorizo and potato shavings. the yoke was fragile/delicate and once broken, flooded the plate with oozy goodness!!

                                                            -white bean stew= giant white beans stewed in a port wine reduction with duck and foie gras sausage. the meats were not very distinguishable but great tastes nonetheless. i also liked that the beans were big enough to offset the other strong components of the dish.

                                                            -uni sandwich= not something i would've normally ordered but i was inspired by the rave reviews of this dish on the boards. good but not great. i felt the bread was too thick for the amount of uni and butter sandwiched between.

                                                            -galbi pinchos= another great dish! these were korean style marinated short ribs. very flavorful, cardboard thin pieces of meat.. my dad even mentioned that the seasoning reminded him of cuban style palomilla steak his mom used to cook.

                                                            -roasted bone marrow= another chow inspired order! GREAT! in all honesty, i was expecting smaller bones but was happy to see that the portion was more generous than others ive seen in miami and ny restaurants.

                                                            all in all a GREAT meal/experience!! although i was thrilled to finally dine here, i also couldn't believe i had waited so long. important to note also that Michy herself was not in the kitchen and everything still ran smoothly and all the dishes tasted perfect. service was spotless and the timing of the dishes seemed perfectly orchestrated. we ordered in 3 waves and never had to wait more than a few minutes for the next one to arrive. for dessert, we had the greek yogurt ice cream with tomato and basil syrup- tasted like Adria's take on a sundae..also a hit! Can't wait to go back and try the rest!!

                                                            ...oh and i also noticed on the back of the menu that they will begin serving lunch soon!! anyone have a date on that??

                                                            17 Replies
                                                            1. re: Marsjt

                                                              Sounds like a good place to hit this time around.

                                                              Would like to see some razor clams.

                                                              Any updated menus to view?

                                                              1. re: Wursthof

                                                                If they have the oyster special with meyer lemon and serrano - ORDER!

                                                                1. re: Icantread

                                                                  After a couple more visits, my current two fav's on the menu are the Rabo Encendido and the Crispy Eggplant.
                                                                  The rabo is super tender, pulled off the bone and piled on a slice of (toasted?) bread, soaking wet with juices. It sort of reminded me of an open face "french dip" but more delicious.
                                                                  The eggplant is sliced into very thin rounds and fried crisp. the dark honey that is drizzled over the eggplant complements it quite well. (anyone know what kind of honey that is)
                                                                  I reco to anybody going there to enjoy those two plates.

                                                                  1. re: dmo305

                                                                    Seriously - what is all the fuss about. The food is fine - but not worth all of this gushing. This is just the "new place to be" right now. Any tapas over $12 is ridiculous. I have eaten better small plates at a way better price at Michaels, Talula & Yakko San.

                                                                    1. re: Fatada

                                                                      Couldn't agree more. Everything I had was fairly pedestrian and that white bean stew whatever was inedible. And while I try not to focus on price when I am trying to enjoy a good meal, I have this to say - we got the Uni Sandwich, two slivers of sandwich with barely anything in the middle. Couldn't have told you it was Uni unless I already knew. It was a pleasant enough couple of bites, nothing special. One of the people dining with me asked "Is there something special about what's in this dish?" I replied that is was Uni. They say "I only ask because it is $15." Truly decadent in a very bad way.

                                                                      The Bloody Mary Martini was interesting but you could probably drink ten of them and still not be drunk.

                                                                      I almost get the mpression that people just want to love this place so much that it influences their judgment.

                                                                      1. re: nikklos

                                                                        I think you could be right nikklos. I enjoyed all of the dishes I had there and have few complaints but all in all it just doesnt blow me away. I think that the excitement of a new place in a hot neighborhood with a different theme got me excited in the first place but after going about a half dozen times, Im pretty much over it. There are plenty of other places Id rather try. MGFD, however, is something I do about once a week because its that damn good.

                                                                        1. re: nikklos

                                                                          Interesting. I've not been back since this visit a month ago ->

                                                                          I wouldn't say everything I've had was great, but some things were. Unclear to me whether the execution has changed in the past month (MB is now spending more time back at Michy's) or if some things may just be a matter of taste. You found the white bean stew inedible, I've had it on a few different visits and thought it was excellent. Other things have been somewhat up and down for me - the clams were excellent, the bravas much better (and more generous) than my first visit, the rabbit was great, the pork belly very good, Mrs. F loved the rabo, the crispy artichokes and eggplant very good if not revelatory. The marow bones were disappointing, the croquetas only OK and a lousy value, the monkfish cheeks just nebbish, the sweetbreads uninspired. But I've enjoyed all the meals I've had there.

                                                                          When Michy's opened, I found as well that there were things I loved, and things that just didn't do it for me at all. I eventually tended to order my favorites and hope for new things to appear on the menu (and they often did). Though I should note, my last Michy's visit was something of a disappointment as there was pretty much nothing on the menu that was new, and what was there was for the most part pretty conservative. It really almost read like a "Michy's greatest hits." The food was still good, but there wasn't anything exciting for someone that's already been fairly often. I hope that changes and that it's just a result of the efforts dedicated to opening the new spot.

                                                                          1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                            Blind Mind - our group went for drinks at MFGD before going to Sra. Martinez and man I had a feeling "why I am leaving here to eat somewhere else?"

                                                                            Frod - the white bean stew was cloyingly sweet and, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why it would be so. There aren't many things that I will leave on a plate but that was one.

                                                                            1. re: nikklos

                                                                              And that's a good point - I wish I had remembered when posting - croquettes should never be just ok - croquettes should be awesome always - and these were just ok.

                                                                              1. re: nikklos

                                                                                Nikklos - someone must have been too heavy-handed with the port reduction. The times I've had the dish, it's been almost a background note.

                                                                                L2M - potato skins? Really? WTF? The bravas were great at the chowdown.

                                                                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                  Yes. Really. Those pillowy soft bravas from the chowdown have been replaced by potato skins with salsa huancaina (sp) on top. They look like potato skins with nacho cheese. They obviously taste much better than potato skins with nacho cheese, but I really, really liked the traditional cube style from the chowdown.

                                                                                  1. re: lax2mia

                                                                                    So GF and I stopped in late on Fri for a bite after the Make a Wish event. Noticed that there have been several changes to the menu since my last visit. Old standbys ordered include the Crispy Eggplant (dunno why but I love this one) and the Bone Marrow, which although I'm convinced is too heavily taxed (five 1/2 shanks for 14) my GF insists she can't live w/o. We also ordered the Choclo con Chiles which was simply corn off the cob, seasoned w/ some chile and lime, and topped with some cheese. It was good and I ate it all but nothing special there- a good side dish. We also tried the reinvented Rabo Encendido (the original version was my fav on the menu). This Rabo came shredded in a bowl mixed with "Trophie" pasta and mascarpone. I had never had Trophie pasta before and found it quite nice, especially the texture. I enjoyed the Rabo very much but feel like this is also too heavily taxed at 17. Last, we had to try the new version of "untraditional bravas". After our extensive discussion on these potato skins I just had to see them for myself. This dish was served with 4 fingerling potatoes, roasted and hollowed out, about an inch or so high, filled with huancaina sauce and a piece of crispy jamon serrano on top. Now while it tasted damn good and definitely better than "potato skins" as I think of them, I must agree with L2M in that I am majorly disappointed. This cannot be bravas! Chef had gone far enough w/ the untraditional aspect by using some spicy peruvian sauces, which were quite good, but no need to change the patatas cubes! On top of that, these four potato pieces ring in at $9. I will wait for them to change the prep before I order these again.

                                                                                2. re: nikklos

                                                                                  Nikklos, I think you guys did it backwards... start at Sra Martinez for some drinks and a couple plates, then move on to MGFD for dinner.

                                                                                  I had the white bean stew on two occasions where it was excellent, and I thought the port reduction complemented the duck sausage nicely.

                                                                                  I will agree that the prices are certainly off, especially in this economy. I just saw a menu for Jose Andres's new spot in LA and it seemed like all those tapas were priced under $10, which would be moving in the right direction.

                                                                                  Very sad to hear about the bravas though...

                                                                                  1. re: dmo305

                                                                                    That's exactly what I'm going to do. Have about 5 of those Bloody Mary martinis, maybe one of those Smoked Ham Bourbons, some of these Clams that, by all accounts, are something special. Then on to Michaels.

                                                                                    I ain't going near that White Bean Stew again. It tasted like it was in a Bosco syrup reduction!

                                                                                    And those Bravas tasted and looked like something you'd get out of a Simply Potatoes Bag in the supermarket.

                                                                              2. re: nikklos

                                                                                Think I gotta agree, at least partially. Our last visit had some good, some not so good plates. I'm not a fan of the uni sandwich. Tell me it was grilled bread with butter and I wouldn't have known the difference. The patatas bravas are now potato skins that have no place in a place that's charging as much as they are. I think value for money here is really low, but you're paying for hype as well. Some things are standouts (artichoke hearts, the old patatas bravas, pork belly, clams) but many things are just OK but you're paying a premium for them. I do disagree about the Bloody Mary martini. I haven't had 10 of them, but as many as I've had on one occasion you definitely feel it.

                                                                                1. re: lax2mia

                                                                                  Ive had the uni sandwich twice. First time there was a ton of uni inside and it definitely made its presence felt in the taste. However, I believe my comment on a thread somewhere on here was that I wished it had thinner bread as the bread more or less just got in the way. The 2nd time I had it, the uni portion was weak.

                                                                                  Its a fun place to go I guess. Its got a good vibe and though I almost always drink bourbon on the rocks, they make a great Manhattan there and the bartender knows his stuff. I remembered that I also really enjoyed the sauteed calamari that they did with the squid ink risotto too. That and the clams but its really the clams that I would go back for. And the Michter's bourbon and rye... MGFD still is the reason I frequent that neighborhood.

                                                                                  1. re: Blind Mind

                                                                                    Frodnesor - I have to agree about the sweetbreads. I love sweetbreads and was excited to try them - but no amount of tangerine & fennel slaw could help the tiny skewered mcnuggets that were placed in front of me. The quail was overcooked and in desperate need of sauce. The chick pea & morcilla was yummy.

                                                                    2. Drinks only experience here last Friday night - wow - these guys know their mixology. The ham-infused Manhattan was subtle and well-crafted, and the Sazerac made by Julio really was the best I’ve ever had.

                                                                      The six seats are quaint, but I hope they can find a way to expand this level of mixology/service beyond that room (and the adjoining smokers’ porch) and more widely throughout the Miami area.

                                                                      We went pre-dinner and then returned after dinner – and I’ll be back here in the future!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: rlh

                                                                        We were vacationing last week in Key Biscayne and Sra Martinez was one of our dinners out. I had read all the posts here prior, so I felt adequately informed as to what to expect. We had a really nice meal, second only to Michael's Genuine. (Our other meals were at Pacific Time (good) and Azul (a disappointment after a phenomenal meal last year).

                                                                        Everyone working there was very pleasant and friendly. The menus were not presented in an envelope as I read about here, but just folded over like a letter. Maybe they decided people didn't know what to do with the envelopes?

                                                                        The waitress was knowledgeable and helpful. The only kink in the evening was that after ordering 11 tapas for the 4 of us, I asked for her to "course" the meal so that everything wasn't coming at once. She assured us that she would break it up into 3 rounds as she always does. Unfortunately, once the train started, it never stopped. The first couple of dishes arrived, and after that every 5 minutes or so another one was brought over. At that point we just figured we'd go with it, but it would have been nice to take a breath along the way.

                                                                        That being said, we did enjoy the food a great deal, some dishes more than others.
                                                                        -jamon serrano - a plate covered in thin slices of very good serrano, scattered with almonds and a small ramekin of fig jam. If the bread that they served was worth eating, we would have made little open faced sandwiches, but as it was tasteless "white bread", we just ate the jamon straight up.
                                                                        -octopus with potatoes - this was a little on the bland side, but nicely cooked. A little more acid would have made it delicious
                                                                        - heirloom tomato salad - nice tomatoes with olives, capers and a murcio vino cheese. I wasn't crazy about the cheese in this combination, but the flavors of the tomato salad were very nice.
                                                                        - croquettas - I read much about these here, and was glad to see that they changed from the mushroom to a chorizo. They served 5 rather than the 3 as previously reported (the price went up to $11). They were good, not great, I've had much better and the recipe from Jose Andreas that I make at home are much better too. They were still served with a sweet jam which I thought was a bit odd. The kids loved them though!
                                                                        - egg with chorizo and fried potatoes - yum. We had to order a second one because the 2 kids inhaled the first order. I'm a sucker for anything with a runny yolk, and really enjoyed this dish.
                                                                        - gigante beans with duck/foie sausage - again, delicious. The sauce was not overly sweet, the beans were tender and the sausage was great. We sopped up the sauce with the tasteless white bread and even that was good.
                                                                        - artichokes - delicious as reported above, a big portion, great dip.
                                                                        - grilled calamari w/ squid ink rice - yum. Maybe my favorite. Great flavors, perfectly cooked.
                                                                        - oxtail ragu w/ troichi pasta - we fought the kids for this one too, really nice.
                                                                        - short ribs w/ kimchi - I'm not sure where this fit in with spanish tapas, but it was really tasty. The kimchi slaw was done really well, the meat was thin and grilled, nicely spiced.
                                                                        - patatas bravas - or not really. I knew they were changed into "potato skins". The concept was cute, everything was cooked well, but the flavor of that cheese just brought me back to a superbowl party in the 80's. I loved the little cups, if only they filled them with something better!
                                                                        So all in all, we really enjoyed it, would definitely go back. $235.00 for 4 people including a $72 bottle of wine...wow!!

                                                                      2. I have a new-found respect for Sra. Martinez. I love their drinks and their bartenders take their work seriously. Last night someone asked for a green apple martini and the bartender respectfully responded they don't make green apple martinis. I don't know why, but a place that refuses to make green apple martinis has a special place in my heart. Same goes for ones that refuse to carry white zinfandel.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: lax2mia

                                                                          Their bartenders are the most serious and quality conscious I have yet to find in Miami. I've had one bad drink from them (the ham manhattan) which they had made for me quite well several times before. When the mood's a bit slower, they happily play along with any requests, provided they have the necessary ingredients and the recipe.

                                                                          1. re: Icantread

                                                                            I guess the bartenders better take their craft seriously because that is what Martinez is banking on - I dropped in on Saturday night at 12:45 am with a few friends for their first visit. We were told that the kitchen is closed but the bar was open... WTF! I do recall being told a few months ago how serious they were about being that late night spot and staying open til 2 am on weekends. Guess things change. Good thing for yakko...