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Smart, Sophisticated Lulu; Sensory Overload at Sawa

Erstwhile Herald reviewer Jodi Mailander Farrell checked out Lulu in Coconut Grove and says that it "plays the artsy, younger sibling [to Green Street Cafe], offering creative tapas-style dishes with fresh flavor combinations and affordable wines." She also says that "Eating here is like finding a prime spot at a happening party where you can kick back and wait for delectable finger foods to come your way." Speaking of those delectable finger foods, the restaurant, which serves no sushi or pizza (!), has a lot that Farrell liked. Among them: bacon wrapped dates, "glorious, roasted Brussels sprouts," "fresh and filling trio of fish tacos," "elegantly upgraded macaroni and cheese in black truffle bechamel," and "smart, smiling, attentive and menu-literate servers." What didn't work? "fatty lamb ribs," "dry, tasteless fried green tomatoes," and a few others. Bottom line: three stars. [Miami.com]

The Village of Merrick Park Japanese/'Mediterranean resto "Sawa is a variety show of a restaurant," says Lee Klein, who also notes that "The only thing missing is a sommelier named Topo Gigio." Klein's not impressed, saying "It is as true of restaurants as it is with humans: Those trying to be a jack-of-all-trades end up mastering none." The review also notes Long waits, ordering mishaps, "inept" service, and other "examples of almost comic haplessness," and food that "wasn't masterful either; it ranged from very good to mostly pretty bad." Despite all that, about the chef, Klein writes, "Here and there his talent pokes through the mayhem," but it's not enough. Bottom line? "Time to bring on the next act."[MNT]

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