To celebrate the end of her single days and the beginning of a wonderful married life, Bruin Bear and I planned a kick ass trip to Miami for our dearest friend Care Bear.  Miami was Care Bear’s choice, but the food picks were pretty much all mine.  No surprise there right?  It was a challenge to narrow down all the amazing dining options in Miami to just 3 square meals.  But, I sort of thrive on solving tough first world problems.  Our first meal was intended to be our fanciest meal for the weekend.  All the gals, Care Bear especially, were dressed to kill for our first night out on this town, busting at the seams with beautiful people, or maybe just smokin’ hot Latin men.  Muy caliente!  OW!

I would describe OLA as a modern Latin American take on the Miami food scene.  The ceviches and empanadas seem to be obligatory choices, but really you could go anywhere from there and do no wrong.  I will admit, my memory of this meal is a bit foggy because I was pre-gaming like Prohibition was making a comeback.  So, the pictures and descriptors could certainly use some polish, but as Jamie Foxx said…”Blame it on the a a a a a a alcohol.”

Short Rib Empanada black beer braised short rib, creamy habanero sauce, smoked orange rosemary marmalade

Tender beef, stuffed inside a flaky dough.  The sauces definitely brought the needed moisture I find is always lacking in empanadas.

Corn Empanada mushroom salad, huitlacoche and sweet corn sauce

More moist than the beef empanadas.

Lobster Empanada squid ink dough, main lobster, avocado sauce, salsa roja

I think squid ink anything is such a gimmick.  It adds no flavor, and is purely an impressive visual feast for the eyes.  Even though I acknowledge this, I still get excited to see squid ink anything!  This empanada was definitely tastier than the last one.  Who can turn her nose to lobster?

Snapper Tiradito meyer lemon, chives, togarashi, marcona almonds, micro basil

No memory of this one.  Sorry!  Or rather, lo siento!

Fire & Ice cobia marinated in sour orange, red onion, cilantro, jalapeño, asian pear granita
Memory fails me again.  It’s one of the more popular dishes at OLA for sure.  I should add silver spoon to the list of descriptors.  Sheesh!  What a picture taking FAIL.
Cheese Bread
That’s the best descriptor you’re gonna get.  It reminded me of the Brazilian pão de queijo, but a little sweet. Everyone loved these little suckers.
Branzino seared, sweet plantain mash, oxtail stew artichoke, pepper escabeche

I was so stuffed at this point.  How does liquor, being just liquid, take up so much space in one’s stomach?  I’ll never understand it.  Anyways, I was just picking at my dish and forcing myself to eat.  It was good, not the best branzino, since I expect only the crispiest of crispy skins which this was not.  But, there was definitely some good latin accompaniments going on here.  The mash was sweet, the stew underneath the fish was earthy.  Now looking back, I should have squeezed that lime over everything.  That would have added a nice brightness.

Panela Salmon panela cured seared salmon, red quinoa, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, huancaina sauce, radish salad
No idea who ordered this, nor do I know what it tasted like.  What a bad angle too!
Pollo Criollo peruvian mint marinated jidori chicken, sweet potato gnocchi, aji amarillo sauce, mushroom escabeche
Better angle!
Sugar Cane Tuna adobo rubbed and seared, malanga goat cheese fondue, spinach and shrimp escabeche

Lamb hazelnut crusted rack of lamb, roasted beet salad, goat cheese, black truffle soufflé, lamb demi

Wish I could have tasted that black truffle soufflé.  It is possible I did and I don’t remember though…

OLA was an elegant meal for an otherwise laidback culinary dining city.  I guess it’s hard for me to give a reliable assessment of my experience here since I was fairly impaired, but my overall feeling is that I would not come back.  The dishes are pretty pricey for what you’re getting.  I’m pretty sure I’ve paid more for less, but somehow the price tag of OLA really stuck to me.  Maybe it’s because I was charging everything to my card?  I’ll give OLA credit for the well executed food with creative Latin influences.  They were definitely a departure from the normal culinary landscape I traverse here in SoCal, dominated by “New American,” which to me means “Asian anything.”  This place would make a perfect date night or celebratory dinner.

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