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Mercadito: Good for Drinks; Delicious and Decadent Prelude by Barton G

This week, Lee Klein reviews the "5,600-square-food modern day Margaritaville" known as Mercadito. As stated in the headline and in the second graph, "The bar drinks are great." The Smoky Pablo (mango, chile morita and a blueberry float) specifically, was "delectable." After sampling a few guacamoles and especially liking the toreado guac, Klein "did not, however, escape our avocado experience unscathed by regrettable concept--specifically, we ingested guacamole with mole poblano sauce glazed over it like chocolate syrup on ice cream," which ultimately "made the dip inedible." Chips, however, are "thick and corny." For appetizers, "Tostadas de hongos were the hit." And now to the tacos. "Tacos are Mercadito's bread and butter, so to speak. No, wait — margaritas are its bread and butter, which makes tacos the crackers and cheese." The house-made warm tortillas are "excellent." Klein's "favorite featured chunks of grilled, herb-marinated chicken with small cubes of pickled sweet potato, crisp bits of Manchego, and chipotle salsa." In fact, "Something tells me Mercadito would have called itself "Chipotle" had the name not already been taken." Chile relleno was "reduced to buoys of distress bobbing in a garlic marred blend of melted Oaxaca and Manchego cheeses." Black beans had "even more garlic," and were "unpleasantly raw." Rice was "overcooked." Waitstaff "is friendly and performs adequately, much in the way servers at Denny's might be friendly and perform adequately." Prices are "anything but forgiving," but "depending on day and time, there are happy hour specials and all you can eat taco deals." End result? "Overall Mercadito's cuisine leaves something to be desired. Maybe something Mexican. If I return, it will be only for another Smoky Pablo." [MNT]

In her review this week, Victoria Pesce Elliott gives Prelude by Barton G a generous three stars. Says VPE, "At the sexy, 7-month-old Prelude by Barton G at The Adrienne Arsht Center, this party pro shows he also can deliver a more demure dining experience." And while the restaurant's "not entirely perfect," it's "an awfully appealing option for a pre- or post-show repast." Despite the quirky reservation policy in which meals are booked and paid for in advance online, a policy VPE calls "a potential headache for less tech-savvy diners," a full meal here "is just $39, which is less than an entree at some South Beach hot spots." The menu, overseen by "talented executive chef Anthony Dee" features "simple" items "expertly executed and prettily plated, familiar but not boring." That said, "much of the food seems engineered more for style than taste, but the flavors tend to work." Speaking of working, what worked? "Simply smashing" decor, " consistently friendly, earnest and attractive staff," "a striking watermelon and heirloom tomato salad," "beautifully balanced tortellini," "plump and juicy branzino with crisp skin in a gorgeous broth with perfectly cooked zucchini and yellow squash," "show stopping puff pastry topped short ribs," and more. Much more. In fact, there was no "What Didn't Work" this week. Bottom line: "Barton G aims for universally appealing dishes that don't go out of season. That said, Dee and his team put out delicious and decadent fare that will please any audience." [Miami.com]

Mercadito Midtown

3252 NE First Avenue, Miami, FL 33137 786 369 0430

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