Saturday, December 09, 2023

Mírate (Los Angeles, CA)

Mirate Restaurant
1712 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Sat 12/09/2023, 08:00p-11:20p

Mírate Entrance

The last time I caught up with Chef Joshua Gil was over three years ago, not too long after he and Matthew Egan debuted Mírame in Beverly Hills. The Alta California cuisine spot was generally well received, and eventually spawned a more casual sister eatery called Mírate ("look at you"), which grand-opened on November 18th last year and immediately went in my spreadsheet of restaurants to try. Now unfortunately, Mírame ended up shuttering at the start of July, though there is another location in the works up in Menlo Park.

Mírate Upstairs Bar/Lounge
Mírate Upper Bar/Lounge
Mírate is housed in a building in Los Feliz (near its border with East Hollywood) that once held the combo of Vermont Restaurant/Rockwell, VT/Show at Barre, which was later merged into Rockwell Table & Stage. That business was then split again, with the front portion becoming Botanique, then BlackRose, and now Hi Tops, while the rear is now home to Mírate. In any case, what we see here is the upstairs bar, right beyond the host stand.

Mírate Upstairs Dining Area
Mírate Upper Dining Room
Pictured above is the upstairs dining area, which, according to the restaurant itself, is "Tulum-inspired," but with "boho vibes." The design comes to us courtesy of Adean Studios, a San Francisco-based firm that also penned Mirame.

Mírate Lower Dining Room
Mírate Downstairs Bar/Lounge
Finally, we see the downstairs dining area and bar. It's a pretty sizeable restaurant overall, spanning roughly 7,000 square-feet and accommodating nearly 200 guests.

Mírate Menu Mírate Cocktail, Wine & Beer List
The menu leans modern Mexican, of course, but reads a bit more casually than that of Mírame. We also get a selection of theme-appropriate cocktails by Max Reis (Republique, Gracias Madre), as well as an array of Mexican wines and beers. Click for larger versions.

Mírate Spirits List: Cover Mírate Spirits List: Oaxaca Mírate Spirits List: Puebla, Guerrero, Michoacan, Estado de Mexico, Tepe, Jalisco
Mírate Spirits List: Tequila Mírate Spirits List: San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Durango, Chihuahua, Sonora, Sotol / Cucharilla Mírate Spirits List: Rum, Gin, Whisky, Fruit Brandy, Ponche, Amargo
I imagine that Mírate must have one of the most impressive agave spirits lists in town, and it's pretty neat that they also carry quite a few non-agave Mexican distillates as well. Click for larger versions.

Crab Esquites
Crab Esquites [$13.00]
The sweetness of corn and the sweetness of crab joined forces in our first course, supported by an underlying element of umami.

El Taquero
El Taquero [$20.00] | pineapple, lacto chorizo, lemon, chamomile honey, mirate x mal bien espadin
The menu described this cocktail as a spicy margarita. I'd say that it was less spicy and more overtly smoky-savory, but smoothed out by a healthy dosing of fruit and honey.

Callo de Hacha Tostada
Callo de Hacha Tostada [$16.00] | scallops, sofrito, black lime, peanut salsa
Scallops arrived gratifyingly-textured, and showed off a cool brine that linked up with the wonderfully nutty heat of that salsa, while all the herbs lightened things up.

Kampachi Aguachile Tatemado
Kampachi Aguachile Tatemado [$24.00] | habanero, black lime, tomatillo
Meaty cuts of amberjack were joined by a bevy of bitter, herbaceous, citrusy, and creamy notes, yet the fish never got overwhelmed. This was more complex than I expected, and that's a good thing in my book.

Mi Compa
Mi Compa [$20.00] | grapefruit soda de la casa, guanábana, tromba blanco, salt
This rather clear cocktail was a riff on a paloma, and displayed the assertive, yet approachable character of agave in a fizzy, fruity package that was nearly Sprite-like at times.

Coctel de Mariscos
Coctel de Mariscos [$22.00] | shrimp, scallops, tomato, cucumbers
This seafood cocktail delivered with its fresh, lively flavors, supported by plenty of bright herbs and veggies.

Mushroom Taco
Mushroom Taco [$10.00] | spicy oyster mushroom, ground esquites, sesame salsa, flour tortilla
In our first taco, woodsy oyster 'shrooms melded easily with a nutty salsa, the interaction supported by sweet spices and zippy microgreens.

La Sonadora
La Sonadora [$20.00] | passionfruit, almond, green tea, nativo gin, goat milk, lemon, absinthe
I can't resist ordering a clarified milk punch when I see one on a cocktail list, and tonight was no exception to that rule. The drink was silky on the palate, while taste-wise, I got a strong anise-y kick up front, leading to herbaceous, bitter nuances and a distinct "cheesiness" courtesy of that goat's milk. Pretty cool.

Grilled Fish Taco
Grilled Fish Taco [$10.00] | grilled rock cod, wasabi crema, jicama slaw, flour tortilla
Rock cod came out properly flaky, with a nice smoke and sear, and certainly made sense with its bright, fruity accompaniments.

Yucca Sucias
Yucca Sucias [$15.00] | cheesy chorizo yucca fries
Yuca fries were great texturally thanks to their crisp outsides and fluffy interiors, and meshed well with the dish's cheesy, subtly spicy elements.

El Amargado
El Amargado [$20.00] | legendario domingo cupreata, distilado con mango & loquat, cucumber infused mexican red bitter, vermouth
This next cocktail was viscous and palate-coating, with a strong mintiness commingled with fruity components and a long-lasting bitterness. A smart take on a negroni.

Whole Fried Snapper
Whole Fried Snapper [$69.00] | jus, avocado pico, fermented chintextle salsa
A whole fried fish was no doubt visually impressive, but also met the mark with its moist, tender consistency and spot-on seasoning. I was a big fan of that chintextle, with its concentrated, familiar, dried shrimp-boosted savoriness and spice that was actually vaguely Asian-y. At the same time, the herbs and tomatillo salad helped lighten the mood.

Grilled Cabbage
Grilled Cabbage [$15.00] | sumac crema, chicatanas, chiltepin, cotija, pickled onions & fresnos, chapulines
Next came the most contemplative dish of the night. I was smitten by the cabbage's bitter, charred qualities and creeping heat, as well as its crunch, but the most intriguing thing here was the smoky piquancy imparted by the duo of ants and grasshoppers.

El Yaki
El Yaki [$20.00] | papaya, bacanora, xtabentun, lime
This sour-inspired cocktail demonstrated a smoky, honeyed sweetness, tempered by the egg white and a bevy of bitter, herby accents.

La Quesadilla
La Quesadilla [$19.00] | corn tortilla filled with huitlacoche, quesillo, spicy guacasalsa
I was particularly interested in trying the quesadilla due to its use of huitlacoche. And indeed, the corn smut delivered its signature mushroom-like earthiness, marrying seamlessly with the lusciousness of Oaxacan cheese while the salsa imparted a prickly heat.

Cotija Basque Cheesecake
Cotija Basque Cheesecake [$16.00] | jamaica, persimmon, puffed cocoa soil
Basque cheesecake has been all the rage over the past couple years, but tonight's version wasn't quite what I was looking for. It veered overly tart, overly fruity, and I really wanted to taste more smoke, though I did appreciate all those nutty bits.

El Tocayo
El Tocayo [$22.00] | el tesoro x Mirate reposado, mal bien x Mirate espadin, house mole bitters, nogave, sal de chapulin
What we had here was an effective variation on a Oaxacan old fashioned. The cocktail was uncommonly thick, in a good way, with smoke and bitterness at the fore, overarched by a great mole-fueled spiciness that was key.

Churro Donas
Churro Donas [$11.00] | miso dulce de leche
Churro donuts had a nearly beignet-like texture, which I quite enjoyed, and were paired with a rich, caramel-y sauce that boasted a surprising depth thanks to its incorporation of miso.

Mezcal Flan Brulee
Mezcal Flan Brulee [$13.00] | nixtamalized papaya, cacao crunch
A reimagined crème brûlée had that hard, caramelized sugar top that I was looking for, but wasn't as creamy as I'd hoped. I did appreciate all those nutty bits though, as well as the dessert's herbaceous nuances.

Mi Vieja
Mi Vieja (Poured in Glass)
Mi Vieja [$20.00] | lalo tequila, paranubes, dry vermouth, campechana water, epazote
The evening's final cocktail was a pretty clever martini variation. I was a fan of the drink's generally savory, pickle-y, vegetal nature, but at the same time, it was actually quite soft and easy-drinking.

Cookies & Milk
Cookies & Milk [$13.00] | mocha mole spiced cookies, vanilla ice cream, miso cajeta
Last up was a Pizookie-esque dessert that offered up a delectable combo of ice cream and spicy-sweet cookies in a straightforwardly satisfying manner. I just wished that the cookies were served warmer.

I have to say that my experience at Mírate exceeded expectations, as both the food and the cocktails were more interesting than I'd anticipated, yet still familiar and accessible, so hats off to the team. Now this does make me wonder: will we ever see Mírame again? I'm not holding out hope, but in the meantime, Gil just opened two concepts over at Level 8 at Moxy DTLA back at the end of August. The first is a teppanyaki spot called Maison Kasai, while the second is an open-air raw bar/Champagne bar by the name of Mother of Pearl. Maybe I'll give those a try coming up.


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