When I first heard rumor that the very popular Ceviche was shutting down its former location on South Howard Ave. and commandeering my favorite little breakfast eatery (Circles) as a result, I was somewhat disgruntled. As much as I have thoroughly enjoyed wining and dining at the highly regarded and always memorable Tapas bar, I was most content with its old location where its separate cozy rooms and small tiled hallways made me feel almost as if I was feasting in an original Spanish abode. Needless to say, I was not displeased by the shift of scenery for too terribly long. Ceviche opened it's new location just shy of a month ago. My beau and I went there Saturday night.
Walking into the “new” Ceviche nestled in the corner of Armenia and Azeele this last Saturday night was almost exactly what I anticipated...but not too much more. The former Circles’ patio was simple yet sultry with fine-tuned lighting, a serene waterfall and Royal palms circling its exterior. Every table was occupied leading us to believe our lack of a reservation might be a quandary. We were wrong. Greeted by attractive and convivial hostesses, we were seated within 5 minutes of walking through the door. The new lay out and décor was definitely eye-catching, with a plush sitting area that later on nearly begged me for a post-dinner nap.
When we were taken to our table, service was prompt. Our server immediately offered assistance in selecting menu items and seemed eager to be at our every beck and call. Indeed he was. After some significant sips of our mediocre Champagne Sangria, we ordered the Rabo de Toro (braised oxtail), Pimentos y Chorizos, Mahi-Mahi Azafran, and the Albondigas (Spanish meatballs). We also ensured some serious sauce sopping action by ordering the Arroz y pimentos (yellow rice). The yellow rice and oxtail came out first with no pleasant surprises. The oxtail was rather gristly, an attribute of this meat I should have expected I suppose. The sauce it came submerged in did the dish some favors once I gave into the Cuban bread screaming my name. The chorizo dish, claiming five types of chorizo and in a reddish sauce was practically polluted with EVOO, something that did not particularly bother me. Massive slices of chorizo and varying colors of roasted peppers were the perfect combination of sweet and savory to every last fought after bite.
The Mahi-Mahi Azafran is a dish I have ordered several times, hoping that with each time it will be as mouth-watering and unforgettable as a fish tapas I had there years ago. Every time I ask about it, the servers insist it is the Azafran. It is not the Azafran. The Mahi Azafran is grilled with a “Saffron sauce” that quite frankly only proves the serious expense in cooking with Saffron. The petite filet of fish is perfectly cooked and adorned with tasty leeks but it's sauce fails to give that powerful punch any plate claiming Saffron as an ingredient should have.
Unexpectedly, the Albondigas- Spnaish style meatballs made of chorizo, veal, and pork were delightful. Preparing a perfect meatball is more difficult than one would naturally assume. The Albondigas are near perfect in texture and succulence, seasoned beautifully with heaps of flavor packed into each savored bite we took. The bed of spicy and tangy tomato sauce the meatballs came in was even more divine. Needless to say, the Cuban bread was regrettably devoured by our meal’s end. All in all, our dinner was pretty true to Ceviche standards, dishing out heavily (and heavenly) sauced meats with subtle disappointments.