All that in abundance and all the more important, intriguing flavors that your mouth will remember long after the stomach has digested them. Miami Grille has just opened in the Westfield shopping center near Macy's, featuring a concept that combines Caribbean, Cuban and a touch of continental cuisine in a menu that provided a palate pleaser in the various dishes I tried.
There is an extensive selection of tapas, featuring dishes like Caribbean ahi cocktail, croquetas de jamon y queso, veggie parillada, various empanadas (five to an order) with the highest price being $7.95, Espana tapas, and the ones I selected: camarones a la Eddie (described as spicy), canasta de fritas served with aioli and chopp-chopp curry sauce, and Tampa Bay stuffed crab with Joe's stone crab mustard sauce.
I am not a french fry lover, but I could eat the canasta fries all day because they are made of sweet potatoes and are unbelievably delicious, and addicting to say the least. The stuffed crab is usually served two to an order, but I requested only sampling portions, and in this case one was enough to gain an appreciation for the stuffing, made with crab and and breading with veggies, with a tip of the hat to Joe. A taste of that sauce brought back bright memories of eating the original, years ago at Joe's in Miami. Save a trip and take a taste at Miami Grille.
Oh, yes, I saved the camarones for last, instead of dessert, and as described, they were hot, but not too much so; just enough to savor the sweet Cuban bread served with it to sop up every last drop.
Before I go on "” for I did order more, a lot more, as is my custom "” let me tell you about the owners of this remarkable place. Their names are Basil and Margarita, and they ran a chopp-chopp shop in Miami where they created what they call a Floribbean dish, which they brought here to their customers' acclaim. Various versions are available, some with chicken, rice and black beans, others with marinated steak and other ingredients and one with shrimp, each one topped with a different sauce and often featuring tomatoes, romaine and green onions. I didn't try the chopp-chopp because I had enough to contend with, but check them out on the menu.
By the way, Basil and Margarita and their operating manager, Hudi, have known each other for many years, although Hudi was in the hospitality industry (he worked at hotels in Tel Aviv, London and Miami in various managerial positions), but now they have hooked up in this and the other Miami Grille they own in Poway.
Back to the food. One of their specialties is pulled pork, whereby they literally pull the pork off the bone and bake it for 72 hours before it is served, meltingly tender, in a wonderful beefy sauce that leaves you wanting more. Then, when I heard that skirt steak is used in the beef dishes, I had to order a portion, specifying "rare," of course. Unfortunately, because it was marinated, it could not be cooked that way, but the taste more than made up for it.
Of course I had to include a taste of their Oriental-type dishes, in this case Korean-style short ribs topped with goshujin sauce. I was in for a pleasant suprise when I found the ribs were a cut of another favorite meat, flanken, used primarily in Jewish cooking. The sauce was a vinegar-based concoction, and like all the others I sampled, absolutly delicious.
For lack of room, I did not try the soups, one a black bean, the other a garbanzo, nor did I explore the Cuban sandwiches which cover the waterfront in flavors and selections, nor did I try their seafood selections (a friend was in the following day and sampled the mahi mahi done with sautÃ©ed spinach, mashed potato and topped with ginger sauce, and pronounced it terrific), and another diner selected the guava-stuffed chicken, calling it superb, but you can explore all that for yourself.
Miami Grille has a full bar, a great assortment of cocktails, wines and beers, plus all the soft stuff, plus Friday happy hour and music on Saturday. Call them at (858) 552-0668 or just go. Westfield UTC shopping center is located at 4545 La Jolla Village Drive. You'll love it.