Off the Popular Path

Seek out Tangerine for stellar starters

Peanut-smoked beef tenderloin carpaccio had no taste of smoke or nuts. But the texture of the thin, delicate slices -- like rare roast beef -- ensured the steak was something that could be eaten with pleasure by those who shun raw meat. Parmigiano curls on top were genuine Reggiano, and the side arugula salad (which actually had endive and radicchio too) was perfectly dressed with lemon vinaigrette.

Sadly not the same could be said of a wakame-sprout slaw starter, which came saturated in ginger-soy-lime dressing. It was good dressing, just much too much. And the wakame was far too sparse compared to the proportion of alfalfa, sunflower, and mung bean sprouts, plus bell pepper slices.

Judging from the menu's descriptions, entrées did not sound as interesting as appetizers. In addition the restaurant's elegant lounge look, sleek tan and tangerine colors softened by billowing sheer draperies, encourages a more sociable grazing dinner. But Tangerine's proprietor is Pedro Infante, original owner of the now decade-old L'Entrecote de Paris on lower Washington Avenue, so it would be a mistake to miss one of the three steaks. Two of them were tempting: the New York strip with a cracked peppercorn brandy cream demi-glace, and the marinated filet mignon glazed with raspberry/cabernet sauvignon, which is served with white and sweet potato ravioli. "Pedro's Infamous Entrecote" proved irresistible, and at $18 irresistibly priced. The serving was generous; the steak was tender and cooked very rare as ordered; the peppery cream sauce, strongly spiked with Dijon mustard, was a match for the meat. And the thin, crisp pommes frites accompanying it could not have been tastier (my dining companion, who'd put in considerable time in Brussels, pronounced them "Belgian quality," an Academy Award in the French fry world). This was a steak/frites Papa Hemingway would have found worth a special trip up from the Keys.

The seafood is a hit, but don't overlook Pedro Infante's 
steaks
Jonathan Postal
The seafood is a hit, but don't overlook Pedro Infante's steaks

With the meal, a bottle of South African Fleur du Cap sauvignon blanc was a well-priced and appropriate quaff, not as complex as the label's amazing, unfiltered sauvignon blanc, but clean, with nice notes of apple and even some exotic tropical mango and melon overtones. House-made ice creams -- rich papaya, fruit-filled strawberry, bracing lemon sorbet -- were a lovely, light finish. Tangerine's tables were not full during either of our visits, but with more time and publicity, it's likely that those dining at lesser spots down the block will learn there are much better pickings just across the plaza.


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Miami New Times

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