Catharsis means to purge or release one's emotions or tensions, which makes it easy to understand why Leo Hidalgo, Hernan Sturvet, Marcelo Malvicino, and Dr. Vivian Gonzalez-Diaz decided to apply that moniker to their restaurant on Calle Ocho.
Once you step inside Catharsis, near SW 17th Avenue, it seems as if the very air is different. As you take in the muted décor and subtle music, the muscles in your shoulders relax and you can just feel that you're going to have a good experience.
And course after course offers just that. From above average to simply sublime, each dish heightened our dining experience until we felt almost giddy.
The owners are self-described foodies and refer to themselves as "three Argentinians and one Cuban." They spent a month deciding upon offerings, creating recipes, and tasting. The result is a varied, yet complimentary menu full of original concepts that taste divine that we were invited to try. Below are photos with brief descriptions. Enjoy!
We started off with the wood slab with imported cheeses and honey ($15.00), the ceviche ($10.95), and the empanadas ($2.95).
You have your choice of beef, chicken, or spinach and ricotta as fillings. Each empanada had a soft, flaky crust, and while all were good, the chicken empanada was a surprising standout.
I've had ceviche in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Jamaica, and in several restaurants in the states, and I have never tasted anything that come close to this. Not only does it bring a lot of the seafood that most places skimp on, such as shrimp, but the marinade had an original twist which took it to the next level. Apart from the traditional lime, there were microscopic pieces of habañero pepper in the marinade which gave the ceviche the slightest hint of a kick.
Entrées include a grilled, Angus skirt steak ($18.95) with caramelized onions and crispy fries, but we chose to order it with the carrot mash instead. The churrasco was superb -- as was the carrot mash.
The three hour short ribs ($18.95) blew me away as had the ceviche, churrasco, and cheese and honey plate. The ribs are served with a creamy polenta which changed my mind about polenta -- you have never had polenta this good. The red wine reduction complimented the polenta mash beautifully.
For dessert we had the guava souffleé with vanilla ice cream ($9.00) and the passion fruit cake, which was topped with a layer of meringue.
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Apart from the food, the ambiance and energy make Catharsis stand apart from other Miami restaurants. By the time you leave, you feel good inside and out.
1644 SW 8th Street, Miami