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Finka Table & Tap Takes Bold Flavors to Miami's Hinterland

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Finka's roots grow from the hallowed ground of Cuban Miami restaurant royalty. Eileen Andrade's grandparents, Raul and Amelia Garcia, opened the Little Havana landmark restaurant Islas Canarias in 1977 after emigrating from Cuba. Raul and Amelia's daughter, Nancy, Eileen's mother, opened two other Islas Canarias locations in West Dade in 1987 and 2007. Santiago, Eileen's uncle, still oversees the Little Havana spot that started it all.

Eileen was 10 when she began working in her parents' restaurants, but she avoided them as a teenager. After a short stint in fashion school, she returned, working almost every job -- from manager to line cook -- at the family's restaurant at SW 137th Avenue and Coral Way. Inspired by one of Islas' Peruvian chefs and a two-month stint in Korea, she and her brother started the Cubancube food truck, which launched in 2011 and shuttered early this year.

At Finka, cocktails are poured under the guidance of Eddie Fuentes, a former Broken Shaker bartender. They are on the sweeter side and sometimes overpower more delicate elements. The milky, sugary notes of café con leche float in a Cuban old-fashioned made with Café Bustelo syrup that approaches cloying. In another rocks glass, Saged by the Bell blends tequila, peach bitters, spicy hibiscus syrup, sage, and lime; it should have held back on the sugar and let the floral and herbal notes flow through.

When it comes to eats, a shortlist of cold dishes offers kimchee to causas -- a Peruvian staple of chilled, whipped mashed potatoes tinted yellow with ají amarillo and topped with quail eggs and pulled chicken. The tiradito rocoto is a standout, with thin slices of corvina fanned out and doused in a tart blend of lime juice, ají limo, and ají rocoto with ginger, garlic, and basil. Sweet, toothsome kernels of choclo -- giant, opaque pale-yellow Peruvian corn -- balance the sour wash while small nibs of crisped pig skin add a distinctly Cuban texture to each delicate bite.

A cast-iron cazuela of cornmeal simmered in rich pork stock and butter until wonderfully thick is topped with shards of tender pulled lamb shank piled at its center. The unwrapped tamale is a clever, Cuban-Mexican take on Italy's osso buco. The child-quelling mac and cheese is less interesting but still better than the norm. Pasta elbows are slathered in melted Parmesan, Asiago, and sharp cheddar topped with ribbons of shredded beef and flecks of crisp bacon.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson