Paula DaSilva’s New Menu Heats Up 1500 Degrees

IMG_0557Paula DaSilva has become a household name in Miami, popping up on every Who’s Who of local chefs.  She’s been an Eater Hot Chef contestant and Cobaya curator, but her most notable role is 1500 Degrees’ executive chef.  Out-of-towners will love 1500′s fresh vibe and shwanky Eden Roc scene, while locals will appreciate familiar names on the menu, like Teena’s Pride and Palmetto Creek Farms.  Also, I appreciate any restaurant that doesn’t involve going into the madhouse that is the Fountainebleau.

Rarely do menus excite me and breed indecision when it comes to ordering.  1500′s roster of traditional fine dining options, such as steakhouse sides, dry aged meat, and rotisserie chicken, but this one had all of my favorites. So, we basically ordered everything. No ceviche left behind.

The cocktail list was quite impressive.  I ordered the passion fruit pisco sour, which was sweet, tangy, and didn’t go down like an overly-sweet martini. I loved it. One of my new favorite drinks.

We started with the charred shishito peppers, one of my favorite items to spot on a menu.  These were super fresh, mildly spicy, and topped with coarse sea salt and lime juice.  While the peppers could have used slightly more char, they were the perfect dish to kickstart our tastebuds.

Shishito peppers

Shishito peppers

The ahí tuna poke was one of the freshest I’ve tasted. Super clean flavors and high-quality tuna are all you need to make this a perfect dish. I would order this again.  We also ordered the Florida Hog Snapper ceviche {not pictured}.  Mahi, corvina, or cobia are the usual ceviche suspects, so I was curious to see how the mild snapper held up.   The thinly-sliced pieces of celery severely overwhelmed the delicate fish, and it was basically all we tasted. Not even the raw onions made it past the potent celery.  If they increase the fish-to-celery ratio, this dish will be a winner.

Ahi tuna poke

Ahi tuna poke

Goat cheese salad, I never tire of seeing you on a menu. Yes, it’s a little overplayed, but I surrender every time. This salad in particular wasn’t my favorite (dressed too early, underseasoned), but the goat cheese nailed it.  Crunchy, cripsy, toasted exterior, with creamy, tangy cheese inside. A+ for the goat cheese.

Baked goat cheese & citrus salad

Baked goat cheese & citrus salad

The roasted baby beet salad with avocado, goat cheese mousse, arugula, and hazelnut & parsley pesto. Blew. Us. Away. Not just beets, but perfectly cooked beets on top of spicy, well-dressed arugula, creamy goat cheese, and crunchy beet chips.  Order this. For yourself. I didn’t want to share.

Baby beet salad

Baby beet salad

What better to cleanse your palate with after a fresh salad? Lardo. Boom. Two ridiculous freaking bites of crusty bread, tomato puree, microgreens, and thin-as-cellophane sheets of lardo. What more could you want in life? You’re fucking spoiled. It’s the perfect combo of texture and flavor, and you want it in your mouth. It tastes like it could have come out of a Mario Batali restaurant. Love it.
IMG_0580I ordered the pork belly taco starter for my entree and it was more than enough.  Pork belly can be tricky to get right, and too often it ends up like a fatty, soggy mess.  This, however, is pork belly done well. It’s crispy, caramelized, and tender.  However, the “housemade kimchee” underneath more closely resembled wilted Chinese vegetables. No tang, no crunch, no love.  Also, the tiny wonton-skin tacos did not hold up to the pork’s mass. Much room for improvement on this dish. If they amp up the kimchee, I’d order this again for the sheer deliciousness of the pork belly.

Pork belly tacos

Palmetto Creak Farms pork belly tacos

Hello, large, gorgeous, medium rare strip steak. It was a good piece of meat. What more could you want? SIDES.

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Dry-Aged Kansas City Strip Steak

From top to bottom: eggplant confit, rice grits & chorizo, and creamed spinach. I didn’t taste the eggplant (hey, it was served last, and there was chorizo to eat). The grits were mighty tasty: rich, creamy, and everything grits should be. If you’re craving some south in your mouth at 1500, order this. The classic creamed spinach happens to be a special one.  My boyfriend declared the creamed spinach to be “the best I’ve ever had.” Bold statement from the steakhouse lover. The panko crust on top definitely helped the cause, it was mighty fine spinach.

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Eggplant confit, rice grits & chorizo, creamed spinach

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The damage

At this point, a waiter approached us and said, if I remember his words correctly, “Damn you two can eat!”  Thanks homie, it’s a gift. IMG_0593This is one sick dessert menu. Funfetti ice cream? Excuse me while I sit alone with this in a corner.  We curbed our savageness and stuck to two desserts: the banana cream tart and S’mores in a jar with house-made marshmallow, smoked chocolate peanut pudding and graham crackerer ice cream. The tart could have used more banana cream and less tart.  The pie shell overpowered the cream, and I’m having trouble remembering exactly what the banana cream tasted like (which never happens). Overflow that pie shell, top with some more of those tasty bruleed bananas, and you have yourself a killer dessert. Oh, and that caramel? Put it in a tiny pitcher and allow me to drizzle.  The dulce de leche ice cream didn’t scream dulce, but the consistency was ridicuoulsly creamy and light. Loved the milk crumbles on top, which added a nice texture contrast.

Banana cream tart

Banana cream tart

If you like peanut butter, get the S’mores. If you don’t, come hang out at my table and eat the funfetti ice cream that I asked for a scoop of. I get the whole play on a fan favorite, but what’s that saying? “If it’s not broken, don’t add peanut butter.” I really, truly appreciated the house-made marshmallow because it was fantastic and gooey and literally made me lick my fingers. The fresh graham cracker hidden at the bottom was a wonderful surprise and paired nicely with the little chai milkshake concoction on the side.

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S’mores in a jar

Our server, Ali, was wonderful. She knew the menu backwards and forward and eagerly made suggestions, all of which were on point. It goes without saying, but knowledgable servers who love the food they’re serving add so much to a dining experience.  While the dessert quality didn’t quite measure up to the memorable dinner we just devoured, the overall experience most definitely adds 1500 Degrees to my restaurant rotation.

-Shari
1500° on Urbanspoon

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