When Sra Martinez first opened in the Design District, I was pretty excited. I had been to Michy's a few times and really enjoyed the food and 1/2 plate options. Seeing that my friend/neighbor who shared a lot of Spanish dishes with me had just left town, I was looking forward to a new taste of Spain too. My first few visits were outstanding and friends that accompanied me gave me quite a few pats on the back for my dining choice. Amongst my original favorites were the crispy artichokes, patatas bravas, a pork belly dish, a tasty sweetbreads dish, and some clams that I could have and would have eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if given the option. The restaurant had a nice vibe almost immediately after it opened, most of which probably came as a result of Chef Michelle Bernstein's endlessly growing popularity in Miami. It was a great spot for dinner.
Then things changed a bit on my next couple of visits. The one that hurt the most was the elimination of the clam dish that I so loved. I later heard that it was a slow seller and clams aren't exactly something that keeps for a long time so a change needed to be made. That was too bad because I'd have signed a contract that required me to eat X portions per week if it meant they would stay on the menu. Seriously. They were that good. After a dinner that I helped organize came off as "just ok", I decided I need to take a break from Sra Martinez for awhile.
Lately I had been hearing great things about some new dishes and great service so I decided to make return visit. After making a reservation for four, I was told we were to be six, changed the reservation, only to have to change it once again to a party of eight. The hostess couldn't have been more polite and helpful with changing the reservation and putting us inside so the women would be warm. Dinner that night was fantastic. I really enjoyed the scallops with spinach and peas. The scallops were cooked perfectly and very flavorful. The table loved the uni risotto that I had ordered on a friend's recommendation. It was topped with calamari and a chimichurri sauce. I thought there was a bit too much chimichurri flavor but I was in the minority, even amongst friends who had the dish recently. I guess I need to try that one again. My favorite dish of the night was actually a vegetable dish called "choclo con chiles", a mixture of corn and chiles topped with shaved manchego. The cheese actually looked like fresh snow had just fallen on the plate, covering the dish. The corn was so flavorful and the chiles had a nice kick. It was a phenomenal dish for being something so simple.
A few nights later, I returned to Sra Martinez for a cocktail after dinner down the street at Mandolin Aegean, the new hotspot in the Design District. One of my favorite things about Sra Martinez when I first started going there was the little bar upstairs and the bartenders. These guys make a great drink and can talk spirits too. The bar has a prohibition era vibe to it, maybe because vials of drink-making liquids (shown above) bunch on the bar in certain areas and the bartenders dress in vests, ties, and drivers caps. We went for "a drink" and ended up staying for three, sipping sidecars, sazeracs, and a drink called flor de espana that was made with scotch, sherry, lemon, and egg whites. It was a good night.
I'm glad I went back and tried Sra Martinez again as they are doing some good things there. It's also a great place to take a group and share a bunch of dishes. I have a feeling I will be headed back soon.