By guest writer: Alexandria Guerra of Caviar Chronicles
Tucked away, and nestled on the corner of Ponce De Leon and Alcazar, sits an unexpected historical gem, the St. Michel Hotel. This boutique hotel was once known as the Sevilla Hotel and opened its doors in 1926. The small hotel boasts only 28 rooms, each with its own personality. We’ve walked past this Coral Gables landmark a myriad of times and never once noticed its true charm until we ventured inside for dinner.
This is not your typical Miracle Mile conglomerate chain; in fact, it’s the exact opposite. The intimate and charming ambience was warm and welcoming. The hotel recently redesigned a new Peruvian restaurant, Vivaldino, and this is where we come in!
While strolling into Vivaldino, we were greeted by the hostess who immediately sat us down at a lovely corner table. The restaurant was relatively slow, considering it was a Tuesday evening. Our waiter Armando had a giant smile when he came to greet us. He walked us through the tapas-style menu and lured us into the ceviche appetizers.
We at Great Food List decided to embrace the Peruvian experience and drink a Pisco Sour. Pisco is a type of brandy in Peru made from grapes. These festive cocktails are made with Peruvian brandy, limejuice, and simple syrup. The key ingredient though is the whipped egg white that adds a delicious frothy touch that bubbles to the top of the drink. It’s a refreshing cocktail that can kick start any meal with high success.
We began our Peruvian culinary journey with the Ceviche Sampler ($25) and Saquitos Orientales ($10). If you come with a few people, we highly recommend the Sampler. Each fish is marinated in three different types of juices and spices and topped with red onions. It’s also customary for the ceviche dishes to be served alongside soft, sweet potatoes and Peruvian corn kernels (which we could snack on all day). If you combine the ceviche, potato and corn, the dish bursts with flavors and becomes very well balanced. Saquitos Orientales are filled with crabmeat and shrimp. A sweet and sour sauce accompanied the dish, and each “saquito” was delicately fried with a crisp texture and perfect flavor. Think wontons, only the Peruvian (slightly tastier) version.
For our next course, we chose something light so we could also enjoy dessert. We had the Trilogia De Causas ($18) and the Peruvian staple, Lomo Saltado. Causa is a unique Peruvian dish that is based on a seasoned, yellow mashed potato terrine. The trilogia (meaning three) meant a combination of three “causas”: crabmeat, octopus and tuna salad. The most memorable one was the octopus, which was drizzled with olive cream sauce and finger-licking good!
Lomo Saltado, a more popular Peruvian dish, is sautéed beef tenderloin typically served with rice and French fries. At Vivaldino, the tenderloin is enriched with red wine and soy sauce giving it a unique flavor. It’s plated with onions, tomatoes, rice and the gluttonous French fries. The beef was seasoned and cooked perfectly. We really enjoyed Vivaldino’s take on this traditional dish.
As promised, we managed to save room for dessert and ordered the passion fruit cheesecake. Compared to other cream-cheese based, dense cakes, this one was sensibly lighter and extremely fluffy. It was an airy cheesecake that had just the right amount of tangy passion fruit topping.
Overall, we enjoyed a fabulous, romantic and delicious evening. Each and every dish shined a flawless presentation. This was definitely a Coral Gables culinary experience to remember.
If you’re looking for a charming getaway, that happens to be only a few miles from home, than Vivaldino is the place for you.
162 Alcazar Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Saturday 8 am – 11 pm
Visit them online, www.vivaldinorestaurantmiami.com
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