A new year brings about new promises disguised as resolutions. Beach and healthy eats are two of them. Well, how about killing two resolutions with one visit over the bridge to La Savina Mediterranean Café & Grill at the Mondrian.
You know this space. It was once Asia de Cuba. (Not so healthy.) Then it was a random and no-name hotel restaurant with Saturday party brunch and DIY bloody mary bar. (Sure you get in the water, but still not that healthy.) And now, well, now it's more rustic, both in terms of décor and menu. Helmed by Morgan's corporate chef Tien Ho (formerly of Momofuko) along with chef de cuisine Gabriel Cruz, La Savina proffers a typical Mediterranean light, clean, and healthy diet combined with breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay.
Short Order was invited to dinner at La Savina. The restaurant, which doubles as a café and wine bar during the day, is a place to grab a juice (they're packing cold-pressed stuff from On Juice), coffee and organic egg sandwich (they're brewing single origin from La Colombe and serving up breakfast), and get some work done (WiFi is fully in order and complimentary). For lunch, the café proffers salads and sandwiches, and as the sun is getting ready to set, you'll have a glass of Spanish wine in hand and charcuterie and cheese board in front of you.
Take in the view with one of La Savina's handcrafted cocktails or flavored sangrias. Think roasted rosemary old fashioned or rosemary pear, sage rosa, or ginger's red pineapple sangria. Not drinking like me? The team will be most accommodating and make you a virgin beverage, like this raspberry lemonade, so you don't look like Debbie downer on a Friday evening. People won't even know the difference.
The menu is made up of crudos, salads, cheese and charcuterie, a la plancha items, lonesome pasta offering (for the vegetarians), and sides of vegetables.
We kicked off the night with a hamachi crudo ($16). Rolled into spheres, the fish was seasoned with Serrano chili, crispy shallots, and lime.
Chilled shrimp ($14) with crushed olives, tomato, oregano and cilantro was zesty, pungent (a nice kick thanks to the kalamata olives), and refreshing. Other crudos include snapper, scallop, or tuna.
Salads feature the expected kale (tossed with beets, blue cheese, walnuts, and buttermilk dressing), cucumber and tomato with crushed kalamata olives and radish in a lemon vinaigrette, carrots with feta, pistachio and cherry peppers drizzled with olive oil, or a savina chop (romaine, pepperoncini, feta, and sunflower seeds). We opted for the beets with pecans, arugula, and goat cheese ($12).
Padron peppers a la plancha ($10) are always a good choice.
Chargrilling meats, whether actual red meat or fish meat, is the traditional cooking method practiced throughout the Mediterranean. La Savina has adapted this parilla-style method for all their proteins, offering anything from chicken paillard, Florida snapper, swordfish, lamb kebab, skirt steak, 12-ounce ribeye, and whole Maine lobster a la parilla. We decided to keep things local and order the local mahi-mahi ($24). The thick, meaty, and juicy filet was served charred with lemon and drizzled with salsa verde.
Because it was the only pasta option, we had to try the capellini ($22). You might be thinking pasta isn't healthy, but this light rendition tossed in nothing but tomatoes, olive oil, basil and pecorino is actually delightfully light. It's not the spaghetti and basil from Scarpetta, but it does the trick.
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Vegetables range from cauliflower with cilantro and zu'atar yogurt to butternut squash with mascarpone and chives. There's also fried potatoes with harissa aioli and Valencia rice with kale, tomato and Parmesan. Our server recommended the brussel sprouts with garlic, pancetta and mint ($9), so we gave them a shot. Compared to the tons of offerings around town, La Savina's shrubs fall somewhat short.
Dessert includes a tart version of Florida's quintessential treat, Key lime pie.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha