Photo credit: Travis Rubury
Miami is a city known for its diverse food scene. While we can easily find a variety of Latin American empanadas, Cuban sandwiches and fresh seafood just about anywhere around town, decent Mexican food is a bit harder to come by. Rosa Mexicano is a national restaurant chain that has two locations in Miami, one on Lincoln Road and another in Mary Brickell Village. This past Wednesday, numerous outposts hosted a Fall Harvest Dinner curated by Jonathan Waxman of NYC’s Barbuto and Top Chef Masters. Waxman grew up surrounded by authentic Mexican cuisine in his hometown of El Cerrito, California and created a special menu that showcases Rosa Mexicano’s renewed commitment to hyper-local flavors and farm-fresh ingredients.
The Miami event took place at their Mary Brickell location with tickets for the special dinner at $45. Diners were directed to a private room with an elegantly set dining table to create a seasonal atmosphere perfect for the event. We were greeted with a choice of two specialty cocktails and appetizers including roasted pork flautas, oyster tartar and ceviche. All of the ingredients for the meal came from local farms including nearby Santa Sweets and Fort Lauderdale’s Marando Farms. Every dish had a local component, making this meal exclusive to South Florida.
One of my favorite starters was the “Fall Guacamole.” Essentially it was the restaurant’s renowned traditional guacamole, always made fresh at the table, but uniquely tossed with hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds and fresh lemon. It was not served with standard tortilla chips, but rather fresh vegetable chips and soft corn tortillas. The pomegranate seeds added a surprising taste to the mix, creating an unprecedented take on this classic starter that I loved. That paired with their cocktail “La Abejita,” a mixture of Crown Royal, fresh grapefruit and lemon juices, rosemary agave syrup and a pinch of Fleur de Sel, made me more than content but we still had a full family-style meal to sit down to.
We started of with a wild mushroom salad made with sautéed butternut squash, chanterelles, smoked and roasted shallots, chorizo, pine nuts, mint leaves and peppers with a warm hazelnut oil-sherry vinaigrette topped with crispy julienned tortilla strips. On the side we also had grilled lobster and sea scallop tacos, just as delicious as it sounds.
As if that was not enough, we were then presented with a large platter of lavender, black pepper and honey marinated duck. The tender and juicy meat was surrounded by fresh wilted kale, brussel sprouts, fall root vegetables and serrano sage butter. The mole sauce was a seamless complement to the duck. While you might not expect tasty duck to come from a Mexican restaurant, Rosa Mexicano might surprise you.
Of course, we could not leave without dessert. We were presented with a dessert buffet consisting of churros with three dipping sauces, pumpkin cheesecake, habanero-cinnamon candy glazed apples and cupcakes. I’m a sucker for any kind of cheesecake so that was easily my favorite, but my dining companions could not stop dipping the sugary churros in the caramel and chocolate sauces.
I admire Rosa Mexicano’s commitment to local farms despite the fact it is a national chain. Their menu constantly pushes the envelope on classic Mexican food, which keeps loyal diners coming back.
900 S Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33130
By Miami Food Critic, Cassie Glenn