Ulises Ledain opened Doma Polo Bistro this past August 23, but he's actually been in the restaurant industry in Miami for over a decade. Previously, Ledain was involved with Dolce Vita, the gelato-café with locations across Miami. For eight years, he also served many financial and consulting roles for Novecento, the Argentinian bistro with outposts in New York, Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay.
Now, the native from Rosario in Santa Fé, Argentina hopes to differentiate Doma Polo Bistro from the other traditional Argentinian steakhouses in Miami.
Located across from the American Airlines Arena in downtown, the restaurant aspires to extend beyond typical Argentinian offerings already available in the Magic City. These plates give the restaurant what Ledain refers to as, "an autonomous touch." Examples include locro ($18), a hearty stew with beef, pork, grains and squash, or salpicón ($11), a boiled or grilled beef cold salad with vegetables served in a vinaigrette. The restaurant is still in its soft opening stage, but Ledain also hopes to add cordero Patagónico (Patagonian lamb) to the list of unique plates.
The décor celebrates polo, and the sport's equipment is studded around the restaurant. The walls and place settings are printed with explanations of the sport's terms like "golpe de revés" and "hacia adelante". Black leather booths line the walls, resembling traditional stables. The rest of the space is accented largely by wooden beams and a large wine-rack wall.
We began with the beef empanadas, stuffed also with chopped olives, onions, potatoes and hard boiled eggs ($7 for two). At Doma Polo Bistro, the empanadas are Tucuman-style, which basically means they are fried. The platter is served with a selection of salsa criolla -- red and green peppers with tomatoes, onions, parsley in olive oil and vinegar -- or chimichurri -- parsley, garlic, vinegar, red pepper flakes and olive oil.
The ensalada de tomates, with watercress, red and yellow tomatoes and red onion in an herbed vinaigrette with garlic-basil oil, costs a fair price of $9. Additions of protein make the dish costlier: chicken for $6, shrimp for $6 and steak for $8. We selected the latter for a pricey total of $17. The beef arrived in haphazard chunks, but the meat was so tender that the presentation was quickly forgiven.
The rest of the menu includes other traditional offerings like a picada de parilla for $24 -- grilled skirt steak, blood sausage, Argentinean chorizo, sweetbreads, veal kidneys and two empanadas.
Most pastas are listed in two portions: medium or large. For example, ñoquis caseros (housemade gnocchi) in a beef and lamb ragú with julienned zucchini, are listed as $17 and $24, respectively.
Meat and chicken are named under "meats and tradition", so it's fitting that the plates are also classics. Milanesa (chicken or beef), pollo asado (roast chicken) and ojo de bife a la parilla (grilled ribeye) are a few of the selections. Desserts include panna cotta with berries ($7) and dulce de leche crepes ($7).
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The service is extremely attentive, friendly and timely. In fact, our water glasses were always filled to the brim. The day we visited, however, the restaurant had run out of Quilmes.
At Doma Polo Bistro, the fare is traditional Argentinian and the décor is polo-driven, but the prices are moderately high.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.