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Dinner with Friends: Sra. Martinez

Fresh Tapas

This is a pictorial from our recent dinner/impromptu photo shoot at Sra. Martinez.

Pig logo in frosted glass

We decided to have another in our continuing ‘foodies with cameras’ quest with our good friend Kevin and man, we weren’t disappointed. Some of the pictures I took turned out like crap, but the food didn’t and that is what counts.

Table bread with a light, fruity olive oil

Egg Yolk Carpaccio with Sweet Shrimp and Crispy Potatoes

*Homer drool* Runny yolks....

This dish had me at egg yolk. I’m in an admitted lifelong torrid love affair with eggs, but this dish is good even if you are not.

What looks simple (almost like Mee Krob at first glance) turns into a rich, velvety sweet/salty/soft/crunchy flavor riot after gently scooping the egg yolk up from the bottom of the dish and ladling it over the mound of crispy potato and soft sweet shrimp. The salty sweetness of the shrimp balances perfectly with the crunch of the potatoes and the deeply satisfying richness of the yolks. A winner in our book.

Roasted Bone Marrow with Schwarma Spice, Sumac Pickled Onions, Apple Butter and Toast

All I can say is... cow butter. That's what bone marrow tastes like.

This dish elicited more than a few spontaneous exclamations of “holy shit!” it was so good. If you haven’t had the wonder that is bone marrow, the nearest thing I can liken it to would be cow butter. I’ve stayed far away from bone marrow until now, slightly frightened by the consistency I imagined and horrified by the fat content. No more. This was fabulous. I didn’t get much of the spice, but I think that was the point. The onions lent a nice texture change, and combined with a light schmear of the apple butter… forget about it. This is not Amish country apple butter. It’s velvety, has a hint of apple freshness and gives a nice little counterpoint to the richness of the marrow.

Croquetas with Jamon, Manchego and Fig Marmalade

The fig marmalade is what really made these beauties sing

This is perhaps the best representation of a perennial Miami favorite–the croquetta. Tender nuggets of soft potato protect salty Jamon and creamy Manchego cheese. What really did it for us with this dish was the fig marmalade. The sweet, slightly sour tang gave the ham a nice punch.

Cauliflower Steak with Marcona Almonds and Golden Raisins

So good it made even my sweet-with-savory hating DH love it

The chef had even my sweet-with-savory-hating husband singing this dish’s praises. The nuttiness of the cauliflower really balanced the plump sweetness of the raisins, and the simply treated almonds gave their all for a really nice, well-balanced (and very needed) vegetable component to our feast.

Garbanzo Stew with Chorizo, Kale, Tetilla Cheese and Quail Egg

This picture sucks, but I just couldn't leave it off. This dish was just too good.

Possibly my favorite of the night, this dish’s dead simple looks hide it’s complex flavors and wholly satisfying comfort. This is Spanish comfort food at its finest, with the best chorizo I’ve had in town. This isn’t the under-seasoned or mealy stuff–this is the good stuff. All richness, complex flavors and nice meaty texture–what all chorizo aspires to be. I need to learn how to make a passable version of this dish, and pronto.

Lamb Pinchos with Romesco and Grilled Scallions

The picture isn't the best, but you just can't go wrong with lamb chops

Perfectly cooked lamb lollipops with just enough sear to be interesting, and a velvety romesco sauce. Although I almost missed the deeply seared fat cap I only barely trim off when I cook lamb, this was a great rendition, and a little better for you as well.

Bacon Wrapped Rabbit with Carrot Risotto, Glazed Carrot Pearls and Pork Jus

The risotto and carrot pearls are what did it for me in this dish. The rabbit was great, but I wanted to curl up with a tub of the risotto Oh yeah, you heard me right. Carrot pearls and pork jus. A lot of love went into this dish. What is a carrot pearl, you might ask? It’s a tiny perfect sphere of crunchy carrot scooped out by hand by a poor sous chef. Love.

You can certainly taste the love in this dish. The rabbit is most, if a bit on the overwhelmed side by the bacon, the risotto with pork jus is so good I wanted a huge bowl of it, and the pearls? They give just the right amount of crunch to give you something to ponder.

Pastelito de Membrillo y Queso with Quince, …..

Long name that should translate to frickin awesome

I didn’t get the whole name of the dessert, but it was nothing short of amazing. Vanilla and possibly rum? ice cream topped with a flag of salty, crispy Jamon ham and deeply toasted nuts on one side with a fried pastry hiding a surprising pocket of soft cheese and sweet quince at the other. This dish walks the line between sweet and savory beautifully, serving as a great reminder that cheese can make one hell of a dessert dish.

There was another dessert–churros so good I had no idea they were supposed to taste like that. But, the sun went down, the lighting failed, and I just wasn’t able to get a usable shot. Guess we’ll just have to go back :)

Table light

Decor Shots

Back wall near the bar

Sra. Martinez is located in a 1920s old Post Office, and is decked out in rich black wood and gorgeous patterned tile with hits of reds, yellows and citrus. The decor supports the playful colors of the dishes perfectly and serves to give a sense of lightness and air.

Water bottles lined up and ready for service

Lighting over the bar. I <3 Edison style filaments!

Bright punches of citrus are not only pretty, they're also practical at the bar

Heading Upstairs

Upstairs lighting

Service

Hands down the best service I have had to date in Miami; possibly ever. Everyone we spoke to was knowledgeable and gracious, attentive without being overbearing, and more than willing to talk about dishes you could tell they were very proud of. We left feeling not only well taken care of, but like we had a better picture of what the Chef had intended. That’s rare and something very worthwhile indeed. Food is a topic I never tire of, and it’s nice to get background on something I spend so much of my time thinking (and writing) about.

Overall Impressions

I’m looking for something less than stellar to say about Sra. Martinez. A little qualm; something I would change about the dishes we had, and I can’t. The only things I can say even remotely negative are nitpicky. And you know what? I’m no where near this level of chef, so that is ok. I’m great at home, but for an audience? I think not. I’ve been trying for a day now to see if my amazement will dim with time, and so far it’s not happening. This place is amazing.

I think I enjoyed it more than Michy’s and even though it really, really pains me to say it… more even than Michael’s Genuine. Granted, they’re two different kinds of food (both tapas style, but from two different cultural backgrounds), so there is definitely room for both in the pantheon of kickass food in Miami. I still think Michael’s is where I will take out of town not necessarily foodie friends, but those foodie visitors? watch out, you’re in for a treat.

With Sra. Martinez, you can tell each dish has been thought about and thought about and tested and loved long before it gets to your plate. Think of it as a love letter from Chef Bernstein to Miami. She is at the top of her game with this place, and I can’t wait to go back for brunch. Not to detract from Michy’s, which is also stellar, but at Sra. Martinez you can relax more–maybe it’s the dark woods and high ceilings, maybe not. I guess this will just give me a good excuse to go back soon so I can tell for sure :)

Read the full review on Foodie In Miami

View all the shots we took that night on Flickr

Follow Kevin (@Fuji27) on Twitter and maybe get an invite to view his shots from the night (if you’re very lucky)

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  1. By Sra. Martinez « foodieinmiami on Jul 3 at 2:28 pm

    [...] view more pictures of this dinner, visit Gastography or view the photo set on [...]