When Wynwood Kitchen & Bar debuted late last year, all the buzz was about the amazing décor and inventive drinks. But when it came to the food, well, it sort of felt like an afterthought.
The menu lacked focus. Was it Asian, Middle Eastern, American? Who knows! None of it was executed well, either, save for the burgers. Even in our printed review Lee Klein advised, "Right now, it seems to be more about Basel than basil. Stick to the burgers and beers. Save room for banana pudding."
But with chef Marco Ferrero out and executive chef Miguel Aguilar in, the old menu has received the hatchet. In a complimentary preview dinner Tuesday, Short Order got a glimpse of Aguilar's vision for Wynwood Kitchen's future.
Aguilar is known for pan-Latin cuisine, so it comes as no surprise that the new menu goes in that direction. Gone are the clay pots, burgers, and barbecue; in are tapas ranging from $6 to $15.
While $15 seemed a little steep for a tapas plate -- and in this neighborhood particularly -- when our server said they were big enough to share, he really meant it. Our $13 churrasco steak on top of a bed of black beans was larger than most appetizers, but smaller than a traditional entrée.
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Flavors were clean and, though not entirely inventive, prepared with skill. Steaks were a perfect medium, pork wasn't dry, maduros were better than anything we've had a Versailles, and empandas were prefectly crisp on the outside and moist and flavorful inside.
The new tapas format for the restaurant probably means Aguilar could introduce new special tapas during dinner service (none were offered during the preview, so we're just assuming here). And new dishes could be easily introduced or omitted with relative ease. Overall, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar's new focus is promising and leaves behind the vague vision when it came to the food.
And in case you are wondering, the microbrews are still available, and the specialty cocktails, though altered, remain delicious and expertly executed. Our favorites include the Ryan McGuiness (Death's Door White Whisky, sweet vermouth, apricot brandy, Southern Comfort, and lemon bitters) and the Shepard Fairey (Pisco Portón, Aperol, St. Germain, Riesling, and blueberries).