If you're looking for a date-night spot sure to impress, take that pretty little thing to 1930s House, where Michelle Bernstein's late Sra. Martinez is popping up indefinitely every Wednesday through Sunday.
Nestled in the Thompson hotel's backyard, this single-family home that was once the community fitness center has been transformed into a charming Mediterranean cottage. It's equipped with romantic lighting, vintage Havana-style furniture, orange clay floors, a limestone fireplace, and two bars: one mixing classic and revived libations and the other serving contemporary tapas.
When Sra. Martinez opened in the Design District in 2008, it quickly became a popular locals spot. Not only was it named one of the best new restaurants in America by Esquire that year, but Bernstein also won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast thanks to her longstanding success with Michy's.
And while Sra. Martinez and Michy's both unexpectedly shuttered (Sra. Martinez in 2012 and Michy's just last summer), 2015 has undoubtedly been the year of comebacks for Bernstein. Not only did she debut her Florida brasserie, Seagrape, at the same hotel where Sra. Martinez has very quietly taken up residence, but also Michy's has gone midcentury with its look and up-to-date with its menu. So if you can't decide which of Bernstein's three eateries you're craving, perhaps paella croquetas and chocolate y chorizo will help you make up your mind. (Both are happening here.)
More than just a humble abode where you can nosh on pan con tomate and tortilla española, 1930s House is a convivial gathering place for deep and intimate conversation (preferably with someone you're trying to woo) while listening to some awesome live entertainment. With nightly programming every Thursday through Sunday and rotating acts, 1930s House aims to be a stage for local talent as well as go-to place for locals to imbibe. On a recent Thursday, Red Monkey serenaded and mesmerized patrons with its soulful takes of covers like "Just My Imagination."
If it weren't for the hefty prices, 1930s House would be Mid-Beach's undisputed best-kept locals secret. For special occasions (like when you're trying to close the deal), however, it's your best bet.
Two Sra. Martinez favorites have made a comeback. The Belmonte (pictured above) mixes Absolut Elyx with strawberry, basil, jalapeño syrup, and lime ($16).
Then there's the expertly shaken Buena Vista (also $16), with Plymouth gin, St-Germain, cucumber, lemon, and mint.
Modernized cocktails include a Jalis mule with jalapeño syrup and a ceviche sour with ají amarillo syrup. There's also sangria with Graffigna Malbec, raspberry, apple, orange, Cardenal Mendoza brandy, and Grand Marnier ($13 for a glass or $48 for a pitcher).
Cheese lovers can choose from manchego ($14), tetilla ($14), or Murcia al vino ($15). There's also a charcuterie selection of prosciutto, jamón serrano, or chorizo cantimpalo but nothing that combines charcuterie and cheese. It would be nice for Sra. Martinez to offer a sampler for diners who can't make up their minds and want it all.
To the left: crisp artichokes with lemon coriander ($12). On the right: shishito peppers crowned with bonito flakes and furikake ($12).
Ultrafresh hamachi is enhanced by candied jalapeños, avocado, and some pomegranate for a tart kick ($20).
For a different take on steak tartare ($18), try Sra. Martinez's galbi beef rendition, with pickles, crisp rice cakes, and a subtle punch of heat.
You've had bacon and chorizo croquetas, but have you had paella croquetas? These fried spheres are chock full of the quintessential Spanish dish ($12).
Though 1930s House doesn't proffer dessert, the chocolate-and-chorizo open-faced panini makes for a sweet and savory ending ($16).
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