Mírame: a Mexican culinary ‘staycation’

Sitting on the front patio of Mírame, at one of the socially distanced tables near an exterior fireplace, I felt as if I were sitting at a beautiful restaurant in one of the luxury resorts in Punta Mita, Mexico.

Since many of us aren’t flying to Mexico for a summer vacation due to the coronavirus, driving to Mírame in Beverly Hills to enjoy a cocktail and meal feels like a glorious getaway.

The night we dined, the city of Beverly Hills had a pop-up tent a few storefronts away, with city staff members passing out complimentary bottles of hand sanitizer and COVID-19 pamphlets.

As we were led to a decorative Mexican-tiled table, I admired the light and bright work by M. Winter Design, which also designed Jaffa, Manuela, and Bacari on 3rd. The patio’s resort-like ambiance includes white brick walls with nopales artistically hanging from a reclaimed wood plank, and hanging dried flower bouquets. The flooring is stone and brick and reclaimed wood. Beautiful mosaic-tiled tables are socially distanced along a long banquette with Mexican-style rope and wood chairs.

This is not a typical tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole style of Mexican restaurant. Instead, start with chef Joshua Gil’s activated charcoal masa gnocchi with shredded Dungeness crab meat, chunky avocado and sliced tomatoes in a bowl of exquisite corn consommé. Use a spoon to ladle the corn broth to savor every last drop. Chef Gil makes botanical, visually appealing plates of food by sprinkling microgreens and flowers on top. Each one tastes as good as they look.

This ambitious chef and partner Matthew Egan opened Mírame (formerly Gratitude) after L.A. County ordered all restaurants to close their dining rooms. This duo got creative in decorating their front and back dining patios to be so inviting. As business picked up, they obtained permits to put tables along the sidewalk in front of neighboring closed storefronts to enlarge their outdoor seating capacity.

The gorgeous interior space offers a soaring ceiling, large spirits bar and beautiful wall mural painted by Mexico City artist Jorge Tellaeche. Some day, this area will be used to seat diners.

Chef Gil’s innovative menu specialties include ceviches and an Omega Blue kampachi tostada. Served on two crunchy tortilla shells, the chef chops fresh yellowfin tuna and adds sliced avocado and a sumac crema. Sumac is made from crushed red berries from the sumac bush. Its acidic flavor tastes similar to a squeeze of lemon. On top is a shiso leaf offering a hint of mint, basil, tarragon, cilantro, cinnamon and anise. The chef rounds out the flavors with a house-made version of the Japanese condiment yuzu kosho that he infuses with Mexican flavors.

Other creative starters include grilled El Chingon oysters with mulato chili herb butter, and salmon skin chicharones that can be dipped into fermented garlic aioli.

Egan shared that opening during the COVID-19 pandemic was tough at first, but they were committed to providing an experience that reflects the layered culinary history of both California and Mexico.

“We have traveled through Mexico discovering the best spirits and ingredients to bring back to Beverly Hills,” he said.

For those ordering takeout and delivery, curbside service is available.

“We put our entrance next to the sidewalk and introduced curbside pickup when possible, so guests don’t have to come into the restaurant,” Egan said.

Looking at the farm-to-bar beverage menu, we noticed a robust collection of spirits, artisanal products and notable mezcals. A few playful, resort-style cocktails caught our eye, including one made with a 90201 Rhum blend, that our server said is like an elevated daiquiri, and another named Wild Style that is made with peppered turmeric coconut cream, Mexican rum and pineapple, similar to a piña colada.

We opted for two of their creative margaritas, starting with the Green Lantern, a play on the popular green juice health kick. It’s made with tequila, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, celery, fennel and lime. On the side of my lowball glass was a blend of crushed tarragon, fennel and taijin to add a salty zip to each sip.

My husband ordered #IYieldMyTime, which was a balance of flavorful mango juice, mezcal, blanco vermouth, green apple and chamoy. I liked the tamarind fruit leather, which was around the rim and wrapped around the straw for a balance of sweet and sour flavors.

The bar also makes a $50 and $150 margarita featuring a 7-year or 18-year añejo tequila, which is then lightly smoked with Palo Santo wood.

Besides cocktails, they also offer an array of Mexican craft beers and wines from Valle de Guadalupe and other regions in Mexico. Each night, they offer a 3-ounce flight of three wines for $32. They try to pair the wines based on your order.

We ordered one flight and first enjoyed a funky natural rosé from Palafox Winery with the Mírame fermented green tea salad.

“This salad is getting a reputation of becoming the new modern chopped salad in Beverly Hills,” our waiter shared.

It’s layered with french-cut jicama tossed with cabbage, sesame, chopped peanuts and corn nuts. Not only is it refreshing, but it’s healthy for lunch and dinner.

Next we had a 3-ounce bubbly flute of Blanc d Noir from Terra Madi, San Antonio de los Ninas, with the delicious kampachi, and finished out the flight with a ruby red glass of Bichi from Tecate, Mexico, to enjoy with pork belly tacos.

Three different tacos are offered, and we opted for the caramelized, slow-cooked pork belly served on a plate with two heirloom red conico corn tortillas. Red corn is exceptionally sweet and nutty in flavor and these tortillas have a pretty pink hue. They are topped with big pieces of tender pork, crushed avocado and chunky tomatillo salsa.

Egan came back to our table to share his knowledge of the wine.

“Bichi means naked, and this No Sapian biodynamic wine is comprised of an unidentified grape variety. The farmer is not certain, but it’s one of my favorites,” he said.

After one sip, I detected its crisp brightness, bursting with fruity notes and a pleasing funkiness in its finish.

For those living it up, the menu offers larger items on the “Seguimos” section including a whole fried Baja snapper, Columbia River sturgeon, whole rack of lamb with grilled figs, baby corn and lamb bacon, and a 35-ounce prime cote de boeuf served with melted leeks and fermented garlic.

We saved room for a stone fruit and pine nut tart made with flavorful masa and a scoop of chamomile tea and goat cheese ice cream.

She also makes a mezcal flan, pineapple miso brûlée and chocolate castellan cake.

Mírame, meaning “look at me,” in Beverly Hills offers a new look or change of pace, scenery and flavors for weary pandemic diners starting at 11 a.m. for lunch to late night. On weekends, it opens at 10 a.m. for brunch. Reservations are available on OpenTable. $$-$$$$ 419 N. Canon Drive, (310)230-5035.

This review is featured in the Beverly Press https://beverlypress.com/2020/08/mirame-a-mexican-culinary-staycation-in-beverly-hills/

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