Charlotte Bistro Returns As Mesa
|Villaroel's signature chocolate soup returns!|
"With Charlotte Bistro," Villaroel explains, "I had just arrived from Venezuela, and definitely paid [for it being] my first experience... Suddenly passion was overwhelmed by all the other problems surrounding a restaurant business. Mesa arrives with calm, with a confident mind, with a little more experience... and with the idea that changes are good."
|Beet soup with goat cheese.|
Another difference between Mesa and Charlotte is that the chef (partnered with Adrian Orozco) is calling the shots. Business issues cropped up at the latter establishment, but Villaroel's talent for cooking was never in question. Her training grounds were studded with Michelin stars, including time spent working with Michel Bras at Laguiole in the South of France. When Charlotte opened, she told Short Order: "Going natural speaks beautifully to me. I don't work too much the food."
|French onion soup, Mesa-style.|
Entrées ($18 to $25) include calamari stuffed with red-wine sofrito, chorizo, and mussels sauce ($19), and pork loin with a sauce culled from ginger, apple, and Vermouth Rosso ($22). These are great prices for the quality of setting and cuisine.
Rich, dark chocolate soup ($7) -- Charlotte's signature -- remains a dazzler with its coffee aroma, butter tuile, and coffee ice cream.
|The dining room.|
The 1,800-square-foot, 42-seater has a revamped yet still-eclectically whimsical décor, with pop-art murals by local artist Andres Risquez, including one wall filled with female silhouettes surfing on lipstick tubes. There are small tables for dining, but most patrons choose to sit on an elongated, bench-like banquette that runs the entirety of the room. A terrace seats a dozen more along Miracle Mile.
"Mesa is my vision of an old-fashioned kitchen, like my mother's or grandmother's, with genuine service and unforgettable cuisine." Chef Villaroel hopes the "dishes that are [her] own and that [she] grew up with will keep guests coming back."
If you never dined at Charlotte Bistro, this is another chance for a seat at the table -- or, if you will, at the Mesa. Those familiar with Villaroel's cuisine are no doubt thrilled she's cooking in the Gables once again.
264 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open for dinner Wednesday through Friday from 6 to 10:30 p.m. and Saturday 2:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tapas happy hour on Wednesdays.
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