Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita **1/2
Quirky name, satisfying menu: Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita is a fizzy, fun addition to sizzling Mary Brickell Village.
By Victoria Pesce Elliott
Given his stated mission of doing for food what Ikea has done for home furnishings, Madrid restaurateur Carlos Galán might have chosen a shorter name for his charming Miami venture. Even with its mouthful of whimsy, though, Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita is easy to love.
This newcomer occupies a storied site. The Mediterranean-style 1923 building started out as one of Miami's first fire stations, became the Miami Vice-era party spot Firehouse Four and most recently was home to the fine but doomed Mosaico.
As at the Swedish furniture store, the prices at Dolores/Lolita raise eyebrows because they are so surprisingly affordable, especially for a place with such style. There's something magical about the rambling space with its dramatically arched doorways, whitewashed walls and black wood flooring anchored by a candlelit staircase.
The exceedingly friendly young staff is quick to arrive with a nice olive tapenade and warm bread. Pitchers of filtered water are complimentary and quickly refilled.
The spare menu -- identical at lunch and dinner -- could not be easier to negotiate. Sixteen entrees are grouped in two columns by price, $18 or $23. Take your pick and add a starter at no extra charge.
It's the kind of food that you want to eat while drinking, and that's pretty easy to do here, too. There's a full bar and a serviceable wine list with more than a dozen by-the-glass selections, from a simple $4 house merlot to a $10 Heron pinot noir.
Bottles, mostly young and from California, Spain or Argentina, are $18 to $95 (a 2½- to 3½-times markup over retail), with some pricier French champagnes added to the mix.
Main courses include a respectable vaca frita and a ginger-orange-glazed pork tenderloin that was a tad dry but still tasty. Luscious, pan-seared sea bass with tangy cherry tomatoes and snappy snow peas succeeds on every level, as does a generic but satisfying roasted salmon served with a vinegared tomato salad and aromatic jasmine rice.
The veal lasagne is also a find, with tender sheets of pasta layered with a thick Bolognese sauce. Veal churrasco with thin and crispy fries also satisfies meat lovers. The short-rib ravioli, however, is an oddly sweet concoction with more fatty meat then flavor. A cabernet demi glace dotted with tender button mushrooms and a delectable potato gratin nearly redeemed an unfortunately gristly grilled picanha steak.
Desserts are a steal, too, at only $2.50. The coconut crème brûlée was a bit rubbery, but the rich and retro tiramisu is worth the calories.
Like its smile-inducing name, this enticing hot spot is bound to show you a good time.
Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita, 1000 South Miami Ave., Brickell; 305-403-3103. doloreslolita.com
Rating: **½ (Good)
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, until 1 a.m. Thursday- Saturday. Coffee shop open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Prices: Two-course meals $18-23, dessert $2.50, appetizers in Lolita Lounge $8-$16.
FYI: Reservations suggested. Valet parking $6-$10; Mary Brickell Village garage nearby. Full-bar; corkage $10. All drinks and some appetizers half-price 4-7 p.m. AX, MC, VS.
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