The City of Angels features a plethora of restaurants serving great Mexican cuisine. When it comes to elevated or chef-ified Mexican cuisine? Not so much. We’ve had the ahead-of-its-time Rivera (RIP). And for awhile Chef Ray Garcia’s Broken Spanish held a solid lock for providing alta cocina / more chef-driven interpretations of Mexican food, until it’s untimely demise during the pandemic. And when Chef Wes Avila left Guerrilla Tacos to start a new venture, that left a void in this market segment.
With Mirame (or MÍRAME per their marketing), Chef Joshua Gil and business partner Matthew Egan look to bring “Contemporary Mexican with a California sensibility”, and they also state they want to provide “an experience that reflects the layered culinary history of both California and Mexico.” This sounds wonderful, except that it also sounds really familiar, as a number of places have sought this angle before. But we held out hope that Mirame might deliver some creative and wonderful creations.
Mirame is located in the heart of Beverly Hills, on glamorous Canon Drive, just down the street from Wolfgang Puck’s legendary Spago, and a couple blocks away from Rodeo Drive, where you can shop at Gucci, DIOR, Salvatore Ferragamo, Rolex Boutique, Louis Vitton and the like.
Looking over the menu and the bling factor (to cater to the local affluent clientele?) and prices for the neighborhood are evident, from a Bluefin Toro Tostada for $44(!), to A5 Wagyu Beef Tenderloin for $100.
The one area that did look intriguing was their huge list of Mexican Spirits, from many Mezcal, Destilado and Tequilas.
Mirame Fermented Green Tea Salad (Jicama, Cabbage, Peanuts, Sesame, Corn Nuts, Green Mango):
This sounded intriguing: Would this “Tea Salad” be inspired by Burmese Tea Leaf Salads seen over the years by a variety of local Burmese restaurants? Or would it be something completely new? This tasted like the sum of its parts. Definitely not the Burmese-type of Tea Leaf Salad, this was a refreshing starter, crunchy Jicama, Cabbage and nutty Peanuts and Sesame Seeds. The Green Mango didn’t have enough sweetness to counterbalance the tart dressing, but it was otherwise a nice way to start the meal.
Grilled Octopus (Chicken Skin, Avocado, Ayocote Beans, Preserved Lemons):
This was just OK. The Grilled Octopus was fine, but nowhere near as pleasant as Republique’s Grilled Octopus mainstay. There was a slight chewiness, but some tenderness. The Chicken Skin, large chunks of Avocado, Beans all felt disparate. Where they supposed to blend together with the Octopus? Because the chunks of each ingredient were so large cut that it was impossible to get a single bite of all ingredients together unless you cut away at all of it. And the Preserved Lemon overpowered the dish.
Mirame Campechana (Shrimp, Scallops, Octopus, Avocado, Cucumber, Black Lime Snow):
This was the highlight of the meal: Fresh Scallops, bright chunks of Shrimp, although very little Octopus, their Black Lime Snow seasoning really livened up the dish. It was lightly briny, aromatic and just a great Campechana with better ingredients. We’d order this again.
Their Main Dishes section looked uninspired or suspect - Baja Spiny Lobster Thermidor(?!) (What does this have to do with marrying Mexican and California cuisines together?); Sonoma Duck Confit(?!) (What makes this Mexican?); and the $100 Grade A5 Wagyu Beef Tenderloin. So we opted to explore more interesting dishes.
Sonoma Lamb Barbacoa Tacos (Smashed Avocado, Saffron Pickled Fennel, Radish):
First, “yes” you are paying about ~$27 ($21 + tax & tip) for 2 Tacos that are about the same size as Guerrilla Tacos / Holbox Tacos that are also chef-driven.
But if the flavors and ingredients excel, then perhaps it’s worth it? Unfortunately, they fall short as well:
The “Lamb Barbacoa” was slathered in a sweet, thick Sauce that reminded me more of Mole than Barbacoa. The Lamb was completely overpowered by this sweet, thick “Mole.” Could you tell this was quality Sonoma Lamb? Nope.
It is not hyperbole in saying that our Barbacoa de Borrego Lamb Tacos at Barbacoa Y Birria Estilo Guerrero for about ~$2 a Taco completely blows away Mirame’s Barbacoa Tacos. It’s not even close.
Grilled Nordic Blue Salmon Tacos (Okra Sofrito, Green Beans, Pipian, Crispy Onions):
The Grilled Nordic Blue Salmon Tacos were much better in taste: The Salmon was moist and tender, and the Okra Sofrito and fragrant nuttiness from the Pipian (Pumpkin Seeds) really elevated this Taco. Unfortunately the fancy-sounding name turns out to be just fancy marketing for Farmed Atlantic Salmon, and while these were $2 cheaper than the Lamb Tacos, you’re still paying about ~$25 for 2 Tacos with this dish.
Service was horrendous, with our server forgetting to take our order for about 15 minutes, and we saw our server maybe once the entire evening after that. But we’re willing to cut them some slack as the restaurant was just learning to navigate re-opening from the pandemic. But the service needs to be noted.
Mirame feels like an uneven attempt to elevate Mexican cuisine. Things like the Fermented Green Tea Salad taste like they would be more at home at M Cafe de Chaya or Vegan bastion Cafe Gratitude than they would be at a place claiming to celebrate Mexican and California cuisines and heritages. The Campechana was tasty, but the price (almost $30 after tax & tip) is prohibitive for some.
And then you get the privilege of paying $27 for 2 Tacos, which are the same portion size as other gourmet Tacos around the city (e.g., Guerrilla Tacos, Holbox, which hover around the $4 - 6 mark), and it’s hard to justify. And to make matters worse, the flavor in the Sonoma Lamb Barbacoa Tacos were downright bad, more like an overly sweet Mole Sauce Taco.
The other key issue is the market niche: Chef John Sedlar’s Rivera and Chef Ray Garcia’s Broken Spanish execute at a far higher level in terms of taste and cohesiveness, and they were cheaper. And if you really want to make a claim at reflecting California and Mexico’s heritage and cuisines, then you’re trying to make the same assertion as Chef-Owner Val M. Cantu’s Michelin 2 Star Californios, which is on a completely other level, it’s not even close. After experiencing a stunning meal at Californios, Mirame’s claim about reflecting California and Mexico’s heritage / cuisine feels empty in comparison. (@ipsedixit @ColinMorey @sck @hyperbowler @paranoidgarliclover)
There were some other items on the menu that seemed interesting, but the current prices and execution don’t line up. It feels like you’re paying for the Beverly Hills location & rent, and while we want to give them another chance, reflecting on the overall experience we had, we’re in no hurry to return.
419 N Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Tel: (310) 230-5035