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D. Rodriguez Cuba Creative, Contemporary, Uneven;Mandolin Aegean Bistro Strikes the Right Chord

According to Lee Klein, D. Rodriguez Cuba's "style of cooking and presentation don't fall far from the Rodriguez tree." The usual suspects are all there, including "kooky ceviches," and, "with its bacalao fritters, fritta sliders, and medianoche sandwiches, much of the fare is rooted in Rodriguez's roots." Klein also roots for the restaurant, saying that it is "one of the few dining establishments in town where you can indulge in creative, contemporary cuisine from the island. Gastronomists from other cities are no doubt astounded to discover this." And while the nouveau may not seem as new anymore, Klein calls "D Rod" "the master of marinated raw fish." Although "empanaditas were enticing," not so much the plantain-crusted mahi-mahi whose "soggy, lukewarm brading suggested either a reheating or an exsended sit under the heat lamps." A rave-worthy salad made up for that gaffe, leading Klein to surmise that "As is true with many other chefs, Rodriguez's starters tend to outshine his entrées." That said, Klein hailed the oxtail stew, while the enchilado left him, well, cold. Slow-roasted pork "probably would have earned raves" had it "been merely slow-roasted." As for service? "Sloppy." Desserts win high praise, too, and while Klein says "There's a lot to like" about the restaurant, "dining experience is decidedly uneven at this point." [Miami New Times]

Victoria Pesce Elliott follows the "oregano-scented air in the lantern lit garden at Mandolin," to her table where aromas--and bread beckon. "If you can resist the aroma, save [the flatbread] to dunk in the hummus, fava puree and, best of all, rich walnut puree that comprise the Turkish sampler." According to VPE, "the waitress will bring you as much fresh-baked bread as you like." With an "eager, attentive and friendly" staff that's "motivated to please," Mandolin strikes the right chord with the Herald reviewer. Grape leaves were a big hit and "I was also won over by soft but snappy squiglets of octopus." Other seafood was "spectacular," especially the daily fresh fish. "One of the few disappointments was a flabby moussaka that needed more flavor," but besides that, Elliott leaves singing Mandolin's praises, which earned the resto 3 1/2 stars. [Miami Herald]

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

4312 Northeast 2nd Avenue, , FL 33137 (305) 749-9140 Visit Website