There seems to be a few restaurants popping up around west Flagler. I am assuming this is because the rent is cheap. To be frank this is not exactly the best part of town. The streets are full of homeless, crack heads, and the derelict. If you can look above this you can become rewarded and inspired with restaurants like Niu that combine complex and layered flavors. So, it was with excitement that I ventured back to this wasteland at 20 West Flagler to experience Baja Mediterranean cuisine by celebrity chef Javier Plascencia and his chef de cuisine Miguel Angelo Gomez Navarro (who’s nickname is fish).
The space is urban, minimalist and industrial.
The style of food comes straight from Tijuana, with flavors from Mexico, the Mediterranean and Asia. It is definitely a seafood heavy menu and you can see the scale motif carried out throughout the place. Some say the food is reminiscent of Mexican street food. I’ve personally never seen such artistic presentations of street food before. Perhaps it is Mexican flavors with Miami style.
I really wanted to love this place, and make it worth the effort to dine in this area.
The cold dishes were served ice cold. The hot dishes tasted predominantly of salt, but I could discern nothing that made my tastebuds dance. The serving staff had trouble describing the menu in English. I know this is a predominately Spanish speaking area, but come on! The mediocre drinks were served three courses in. When food was dropped off they told us what the dish was in Spanish.. huh? There wasn’t one dish that we could say was a standout. It is also not conducive to sharing, I mean how do you divide corn tacos gracefully. The tuna was overcooked, but a beautiful presentation, accompanied by lettuce wraps, and vegetables. When you are a table for 4, how difficult is it to add one more taco or lettuce leaf. Everything came in threes.
I thought the desserts done by pastry chef Sofia Muñoz fared better. But they were too small to share. The popcorn ice cream, with caramel corn, a beer reduction and ash was original and ambitious as was the sweet potato cheesecake.
The good news is, this is not a chain Mexican restaurant serving subpar food. They are focused on using fresh local ingredients and trying to be as authentic as possible. They are also concerned about being creative, but it was not one of my more memorable dining experiences.
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