Miranda Cuisine & Bar, housed inside the modern EB Hotel, is a dining destination that caters mostly to weary travelers who need a convenient spot near Miami International Airport. The restaurant, however, hopes its Venezuelan food and drinks will attract more locals.
"Our regular guests come from the airport," EB general manager Mauricio Martins explains, "but we are exploring getting more residents here."
The restaurant, which opened about four years ago, offers an international menu with a Latin American twist. EB Hotels is a part of the Venezuela-based Eurobuilding Hotels Group. It owns and operates seven properties in Venezuela, which explains why Miranda Cuisine & Bar's menu lists several of that country's staple comfort foods.
"We have three very typical dishes that are traditional and have been tested by many Venezuelans that stay here in the hotel," Martins says.
He's referring to tequeños, cachapas, and arepas, all of which have seen a growing popularity in the United States. Tequeños — cheese sticks wrapped in dough and deep-fried — come served with a honey dipping sauce and cost $12. Cachapas ($11) are commonplace at roadside stands in Venezuela; the thick maize pancake is served with fresh white cheese. Arepas ($10), grilled cornmeal cakes that Martins refers to as "the flagship for Venezuelan cuisine," are filled with shredded beef, pork belly, or the avocado chicken salad reina pepiada. They're served with pico de gallo and guasacaca, a Venezuelan dipping sauce that tastes like the marriage of guacamole and Argentina's chimichurri.
The restaurant has recently revamped its menu, adding a Peruvian salmon ceviche ($16) and lighter, healthier options such as beet and kale salad ($10) and quinoa and barley served with grilled corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, mint, pea sprouts, and a tomato vinaigrette ($11).
Executive chef Sam Powell, whose culinary background has led him to Italy and more recently Peru, joined Miranda Bar & Cuisine a little over a month ago.
In efforts to draw more locals, Miranda has recently launched two monthly brunch series, one focused on Venezuela, the other on Martin's native Brazil.
"Those have been very successful because they're quite unique. It’s a buffet brunch with live music, and we have a Venezuelan pastry chef making desserts. We hire a Brazilian chef just for the brunch."
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Items for the Venezuelan brunch, which takes place the second Sunday of every month, include a cachapa and arepa station; asado negro (Venezuelan-style roast beef); a cheese station offering many of the country's fresh white cheeses such as queso de mano, telita, and guayanes; and pastel de chucho, a fish casserole popular on the country's island of Margarita. For dessert, Venezuelan pastry chef Judy Colomodio makes sweets from her homeland such as torta de jojoba (corn cake), torta de queso criollo (Venezuela's cheesecake), and key lime pie made with papelón (raw, hardened sugarcane). There are also golfeados (sticky buns made with with papelón, salty white cheese, and anise), which are found in every neighborhood bakery, and Toronto cake pops, inspired by a hazelnut chocolate bonbon of the same name.
The Brazilian brunch takes place the third Sunday of each month and offers moquequa, a fish stew from northeast Brazil; grilled picanha; and a tapioca station with made-to-order tortillas. A dessert station offers a myriad of sweets, including brigadeiros.
Either brunch costs $35. For an extra $10, get bottomless mimosas and piña coladas at the Venezuelan brunch and unlimited caiphirinas at the Brazilian version.
Miranda Cuisine & Bar. 4299 NW 36th St., Miami Springs; 786-409-6490; mirandamiami.com.