To say Spanish cuisine in Miami is the definition of "hit-or-miss" would be a gross understatement. This is, in part, because it runs the restaurant gamut from hole-in-the-wall tapas eateries, through mom and pop comfort joints, trendy gastropubs and high end molecular gastronomy staples. Considering that many of the other culinary cultures that make up our colorful mosaic have been strongly influenced by it--and have different interpretations of it-- it makes it a hard category to discern.
Spanish cuisine is difficult to understand, ironically, because of its simplicity. There is minimal mixing of ingredients as most of the dishes are cooked to highlight the star ingredient--be it the array of seasonal seafood including mollusks, crustaceans whole fresh fish, pork and cured meats, or roasts, potatoes and rice. And even though it’s relatively small in size, Spain is divided into distinct regions, each with its very defined traditions.
And we stick to our guns about these traditions. Specially when it regards the northern part of the country, where a good number of the best restaurants in the world are found. This is why when seasoned Barcelona restaurateurs Pablo Fernandez-Valdez and Yago Giner--former proprietors of Groupo Tragaluz--chose Miami to open their first U.S. eatery, KLIMA on Miami Beach, our ears perked up and our mouths salivated. With over 22 restaurants under their belt, the young culinary entrepreneurs have spread the gospel of this internationally renowned metropolis all the way to the Mexican and Colombian shores.
To helm the kitchen, they have recruited young and dynamic chef David “Rusti” Rustarazo to execute the vision of the brand’s gastronomic advisor, renowned chef Albert Ventura, with whom he worked under at Barcelona’s Coure.
Since our locally sourced ingredients are unlike those from the prolific terroirs of the Iberian peninsula, the Mediterranean inspired menu has been crafted with the South Beach palate in mind. At first it may seem underwhelming, but once you take that first bite you will understand why their signature straightforward and bold-flavored dishes have done the culture justice.
We began our evening sipping on a glass of fino sherry whilst lounging on the caoba leather couches in the renovated front of the house spacious and contemporary lounge area, complete with colorful Turkish rugs, cast-iron candle-lit coffee tables, imported conversation art pieces and fully stacked bar. Once they finalize the cocktail menu, it is bound to become a happy hour destination favorite.
You won’t be able to help your jaw from dropping as you continue to walk through the carpeted varnished wooden floors into the modern main dining room, decked with large marble table tops softly lit with vine-like hanging black spot lights. This is when one starts to understand what Fernandez-Valdez and Giner meant when they declared their concept “architectural”, inspired and designed around our year-long sunlight. This is a side of the Mediterranean Miami has not quite experienced before: Modern chic with eclectic rustic touches, it feels like one has just stepped into a vacation villa in the Balearic islands.
The feel stretches out to outdoor sub-tropical pérgola, shaded by cane roof that lets the right amount of sun, or moonlight through. Trailing foliage, potted plants and outdoor greenery climb the iron metal framework of a staircase that leads to what will soon be a second floor members-only bar and club. If you’ve never been, you can officially close your eyes and pretend you’re in Mallorca.
We let the chef take the reigns. He opened up with an assortment of the two oyster appetizers, dressed in ceviche and salmon roe doused Ponzu sauces--the later was the table’s favorite. He followed lead with the fennel, burrata, kalamata olive and sun-dried tomato salad, whose fluffy and silky textures were only enhanced by the freshness and quality of the simple ingredients.
The show-stopper came in the form of a half-cooked egg atop a dollop of potato parmentier, sprinkled with crisped Iberian ham. The dish usually doesn’t come with it, but up the ante and ask for a shaved black truffle finish. Savor the moment, because this divine nosh will be gone in a handful of spoonfuls.
The least inspiring of the dishes was the scallop with a tomato reduction, capers, and fresh oregano. The perfectly grilled mollusk was depreciated by the sauce, reminiscent of canned tomato soup. When we shared this observation, they disclosed that they were also not satisfied fully with the dish, and they intend to change the item accordingly.
The grand finale consisted of a chicken and foie terrine drizzled with a roasted chicken reduction, and the pork rib with fingerling potatoes, garlic & shallots. The robust and luscious succulent flavors of these last two dishes paired perfectly with the red-fruit and oak notes of the medium-bodied Pingus Psi 2012 Ribera del Duero. Inevitably, we ordered a second bottle.
The prices might feel on the steep side, but considering the restaurant just opened and is actively working on perfectioning their concept, is definitely an experience worth the while.
KLIMA is open for dinner 6pm – 2am
Reservations may be made by firstname.lastname@example.org
210 23rd. St
Miami Beach, FL 33139
786 453 2779