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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
305-573-5474

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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. The original comment has been removed
          1. Here's the menu, courtesy of urbandaddy ->
            http://tinyurl.com/636ddu

            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
                        Miel

                        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:

                            http://www.thrillist.com/design-distr...

                            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.

                        2. 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