2.5 stars for "spa-like Latin fusion" at Coral Way's Casabe 305

Casabe 305 Bistro chef-owner Diego Texera doesn’t just want you to enjoy his food. He wants you to feel good and sleep well after you’ve eaten it, too. Texera, who studied and ran a center for macrobiotics in his native Venezuela, cooks healthy Latin fusion dishes that radiate spa-like simplicity. “I want my food to be gourmet, but healthy to digest, as well,” says Texera, who operated a restaurant in Choroni, a colonial fishing village three hours from Caracas, before arriving in Miami 21/2 years ago. “I try to use a maximum of five ingredients per recipe. I want to evoke simple food from the time of your grandmother. Food should be about feeling well, sleeping well, living well.”

Casabe’s plates appear sparse, in keeping with the macrobiotic mindset that discourages overeating. And it’s true, you do leave feeling comfortably satiated, not overstuffed. Unfortunately, prices are not commensurately smaller, which is less easy to digest.

Ambience: His Latin-Caribbean “lite” comfort food is served amid a collection of mismatched floral wallpaper, tables and chairs in a cozy, 1-year-old restaurant that occupies a charming, 1930s house on Coral Way. A young, unpolished staff is careless and clueless at times, and the décor could use more attention. (Time to ditch the dead poinsettia adorning one bookshelf.) The dining room lights flicker every time the air conditioner kicks in, adding unnecessary drama.

What worked

  • Crunchy asparagus spears
  • Grilled peppers
  • “Healthy” mofongo with a base of yuca instead of mashed plantains and large grilled shrimp replacing pork cracklings
  • Tostones “Yucatecos” that combines crispy tostones and tart shrimp ceviche with chunky guacamole
  • Traditional Venezuelan tequeños served with fried cheese sticks and a chipotle guava dipping sauce
  • Flavorful grass-fed New York strip steak topped with a pat of Gorgonzola butter and accompanied by truffle-salted rustic fries
  • Medallions of succulent duck magret delightfully paired with a tangy hoisin sauce on a bed of jasmine rice
  • A rich, buttery Chilean sea bass that floated on the tongue like a cloud and came with a creamy side of truffled mashed potatoes
  • Dainty desserts that rise above the boring Miami norm
  • Salty, Venezuelan
  • Rich chocolate mousse cake
  • Chocolate chupito for two— small glasses of thick, dark liquid topped with whipped cream