Bulla Gastrobar, in the space that Por Fin once occupied, opens this week just off Miracle Mile. Short Order was invited to a friends-and-family opening to taste some of the menu and see how the space was transformed from a white-linen restaurant to what owner Carlos Centurion hopes will become a bustling, bar-centric Spanish eatery.
Despite the free meal, some diners must have been upset that liquor and jamón ibérico weren't gratis; they seemed to feel no shame while heckling our waitress about the speed with which plates and drinks landed on their table.
The interior is warmed with raw-wood tabletops, chalkboard-painted walls with some dishes' names written in sweeping script, and a communal table next to an enlarged bar with a cheese and charcuterie display. Hovering overhead is a back-lit blocky mosaic intended to make the bar the focal point of the room.
The menu is split into three sections. The main event, "tapas y raciones," features about two dozen dishes with the must-haves -- patatas bravas and so forth -- as well as some of their own creations like Huevos Bulla, a sort of Spanish poutine with homemade potato chips, a fried egg, Serrano ham, potato foam, and truffle oil.
There were also sections for cured meats and Spanish cheeses ranging from a pungent Cabrales to Garroxta, a hard goat's milk cheese.
Of the few fried choices on the menu we tried the Buñuelos de Bacalao ($8). Crispy, salty, not-too-fishy codfish fritters came in a clay-red cazuela with a dollop of smooth romesco sauce.
Cochinillo, or suckling pig ($19), spared some diners the uncomfortable experience of seeing the whole pig, face and all, before eating it. Perhaps a smart move for the well-heeled, Coral Gables clientele. A squat, compressed rectangle of juicy pork meat was topped with a thin crisp of skin and came with a few meaty oyster mushrooms covered in a simple ajo perejil, an olive oil and parsley sauce.
Pinxto Moruno ($8) offered two skewers of cubed pork loin generously seasoned with cumin and salt. The -- say it with me now, gringos: peen-shows -- came atop a crust of olive-oil-brushed, grilled bread with a piquant mojo verde and Greek yogurt sauce that give the dish a Middle Eastern flavor profile.
Three crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside pork and veal meatballs, known as Albóndigas ($9), came covered in a tangy tomato sauce called "tomato frito" with stracciatella cheese, a torn mozzarella and cream mixture that's often the filling in burrata.
- Por Fin to Reopen as Tapas Bar Bulla
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If all this looks a bit meat-heavy, don't fret. Among the dishes we didn't try were a distinctly South Florida-sounding tuna tartar ($13) with mango and avocado. There was an Ensalada de Invierno ($12) that at the moment includes kale, butternut squash, and hazelnuts and will change with the seasons, according to our server.
The only real letdown was the absence of a gin-and-tonic list we found on a preview menu. Manager Diego Aguilar said that they're still sorting out issues with a tonic-water supplier who's creating a special blend for the restaurant and that it should be resolved "soon."