The goods: Mia is the kind of place that was set into motion during a robust economic climate – the sumptuous interiors, grand scale and high-roller atmosphere all evoke the hefty expense accounts of the real estate boom. And yes, there are the inevitable comparisons to that other downtown nightlife restaurant/lounge/club combo Karu and Y. But despite all that it seems this new mega-venue is making an effort to cater to the times – bottles of wine can be had for as little as $25 and the menu of small plates starts at $5. The place is busy on the weekends, when hordes of young professionals crowd the flashy space, lounging on couches on the outdoor patio and sipping cocktails at one of the glossy bars inside.
Ambiance: Located on the once-sleepy corner of Flagler and Biscayne Blvd, the bi-level space is composed of a cushy dining room in shades of red, orange and copper, an indoor lounge with a bar that spans the length of the room and an upstairs VIP lounge with bottle service. There’s also an event stage where the restaurant hosts musical guests like Latin vocalists and bands.
The grub: Global cuisine with an emphasis on Latin food. Chef Gerdy Rodriguez (formerly of 1 Bleu) is known for incorporating scientific techniques associated with the molecular gastronomy movement into his cooking but he keeps the space-age antics to a minimum here, focusing on simple presentations and tweaking a few classics for dramatic effect. Prices are low given the posh surroundings; Pinchos (meat skewers) and small plates can be had for $5-$12, Sushi rolls are $10-$19, and large plates are $22-$32.
Start off with the tortilla Espanola – a Spanish classic reimagined as luxe comfort food presented in a capsule-shaped bowl and consisting of an egg that’s been cooked for six minutes, layered with potato foam and topped with crispy shallots. Follow that up with a plate of diver scallops over potato puree offset with vanilla oil and crispy fennel. The sushi menu consists of untraditional rolls like “Tropical” made with coconut-crusted shrimp, mango and cucumber and the “Mia” made with lobster and topped with spicy tuna, crispy plantain, scallions and avocado crema. Mains include a crispy pork belly with yucca croquettes and a grilled pizzette with Serrano ham and manchego cheese.
Desserts include smaller-portioned tapas like the churros oozing chocolate sauce and hot mini doughnuts with orange marmalade and espresso cortadito foam. The pineapple fennel soup is a refreshing plate of coconut sorbet and grilled pineapple topped with a kettle of nitrogen-infused pineapple soup for a dry-ice infused theatrical touch.
Verdict: Big spaces, big flavors and big crowds give this ambitious new spot a big city feel.