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Our waiter, an amiable fellow, described the cazuela de mariscos as containing shrimp, squid, clams, and pieces of fish. Well, the white bowl (not clay pot) of seafood turned out to be a reunion of the paella's shrimp, squid, and the tiniest baby mussels I have ever seen -- though to be fair, they were sweet, and the shrimp were larger this time, if a little tough. The shellfish were soaking in a saffron-tinged, smoothly seasoned bouillabaisse broth, a bowl of white rice served on the side.
The kitchen bounced back with red snapper in clam sauce, by which I mean the fish was so rubbery that if dropped from a reasonable height I believe it would have literally rebounded. It didn't help that the thin red skin underneath the filet hadn't been slit before cooking, so the snapper curled under itself and resembled a white tube. No need to wonder if the clams were in the shell or not -- there were no clams, only the same white cream sauce as accompanied the pasta, with just a rumor of clam flavor. White rice came on the colorless plate; vegetables are a rarity here.
There are probably as many desserts in this world as there are fishes in the sea. Costa Mar offered three (I have friends with more choices in their home fridge): chocolate bombe with vanilla ice cream, "pancake" with dulce de leche, and crme brùlée with chewy sugar crust and grainy custard.
18250 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160-2727
Region: North Dade
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17190 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160
Region: Aventura/North Miami Beach
Costa Mar's staff is friendly but poorly trained and apparently unmanaged. Such basic gestures as knowing menu ingredients and what the specials are before coming to the table, being able to recommend an appropriate wine, sweeping crumbs from the table after dinner, or bringing the check within a reasonable amount of time should be part and parcel of the fine-dining experience.
Our bill the second time around, for one pasta (serving as two starters), two main courses, one bottle of water, two coffees, two desserts, tax, and the eighteen-percent tip came to more than $100. (Take note of the tip; it was included on our first dinner bill but not the second.) That's about what you pay for a duo dinner at Timo restaurant, with its far more ambitious cuisine and professional service. I thought of this as we passed Timo just a few blocks south on the drive home. Then we rolled by Rascal House and I wistfully visualized the cornucopia of corned-beef sandwiches that might have been.