Mex Education

I am doubly ecstatic to affirm that there is no cilantro-flavored dessert at Cilantro. But neither is there much in the way of sweet curtain calls. Among the choices are a homemade coconut flan (just about edible), then three pies courtesy of Miami Beach's Simon the Pieman: pecan pie (hard as a motorcycle helmet and darker than Alex Daoud's past), key lime pie (no more authentic than Al Goldstein's run for sheriff of Broward County), and walnut apple pie (roughly as traditionally American as Jorge Mas Canosa's respect for free speech). Not exceptional, then, but not sick-making. As new restaurants go, I'd say this one could do with a shot of culinary steroids to linger longer in the memory, but Rothman's culinary legerdemain shows promise. And yes, where it counts, creativity.

Then again, there's something admirable about a place that, while named after your worst enemy, yields pleasure and gives you the impetus to make a return visit. George Bush, were he a food critic rather than a bureaucratic cryptozoite, would never enter a restaurant named after Clinton or Dukakis.

Or broccoli.

CILANTRO
139 Giralda Ave, Coral Gables; 444-6858. Hours: Lunch Monday -- Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Sunday -- Thursday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m.

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