This weekend, my bff/future maid-of-honor/love of my life, Jennifer Rose Siegel, finally made her way down to Miami to come and visit me! She has been my best friend since I can remember and throughout high school we were inseparable…ying and yang style (to this day still completing each others sentences!). During her stay, I had the exciting, and yet somewhat overwhelming, task of showing her around the glamorous 305. Now I know that I shouldn’t have been stressing over what to do, but since it was her first time here, I really wanted to show her everything. The hard part was trying to do everything in just 2 days!!! It simply isn’t possible. Between the restaurants, the nightlife, the beach, the weather, and the shopping…it’s just too much! So I had to narrow it down and plan an abbreviated agenda for two short days, factoring in hang over recovery time, mealtime, and beach time. This is far easier said than done, and anyone who lives in Miami and frequently has visitors can agree.
When she arrived on Friday evening, we wasted no time and headed straight to Monty’s for some happy hour cocktails. But after experiencing her first PK-3, Jen decided it would be a good idea to get some food before drinking anymore. Since I wanted to stay in the area, we stumbled our way on over to Jaguar in the Grove for some grub. Jaguar is a fabulous little Peruvian restaurant that has outdoor seating and a complete bar, with the best (and strongest) Red Sangria. You can get it by the glass or the pitcher, all that matters is that you get it! The fruit is soaked in brandy and the drink is strong but not too sweet. It is perfection. We started off with a glass, and also ordered the drink special of the day, which was a Cilantro Margarita. The margarita was alright, but the cilantro was definitely a tad weird and certainly overpowering.
For an appetizer, I ordered some ceviche spoons, which Jaguar is especially known for. You can order spoons individually for $2 a pop or get a sampler of 6 (1 of each) for $12. I order individually, since I now have my favorites which are; (1) the Ceviche Oriental with tuna, ginger, soy, jalapenos, shallots, cilantro, lime, grape seed oil, avocado, cucumber, and sesame seeds, and (2) the Ceviche Vuelve A La Vida with swordfish, shrimp, calamari, tomato, lime, orange, onion, cilantro, habanero chile, and avocado. The oriental is an incredible explosion of flavor that is very light, wheras the Vuelve A La Vida is a little heavier because it comes in a tomato-based sauce. I love both equally, and Jen did too.
For my entrée, I ordered my usual—the Celia’s Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken, which is a bed of iceberg and romaine lettuce topped with jalapenos, avocado, peppers, corn, black beans, tomato, cilantro, and crispy tortillas tossed in a black bean vinaigrette. Words cannot possibly describe how delicious this salad is! The dressing is light yet full of flavor, and not overpowered by the cilantro. The chicken is all white meat and grilled to perfection, sliced down nice and thin on top of the salad. The crispy tortilla strips add a perfect amount of crunch and there aren’t too many, so each one is a savory bite. The avocado is always ripe and adds a great creamy contrast to the crunch of the romaine lettuce. Best part though is that this salad is also available in a half portion for days when you’re not starving or want to have an appetizer first (the photograph is of a ½ portion).
Jen ordered the Shrimp Tacos cooked with achiote pepper and served with fresh handmade tortillas, salsa verde, and pineapple salsa. I did not try these, but Jen thought that they were great and cleared the entire plate. They looked fabulous, and if I was more into shrimp, then I might have ordered them myself. I prefer the Crispy Blue Corn Chicken Tacos with roasted salsa verde, sour cream, and guacamole.
On other occasions, I have also had the Swordfish “A Lo Macho,” which is a combination of swordfish with shrimps and calamari finished in aji Amarillo sauce with saffron, brandy, and pernod, served on a bed of delicate white rice. This is by far the most incredible dish on the menu at Jaguar, and it is the dish that made me fall in love with swordfish. The sauce is creamy, dreamy, and just the right amount of sweet. It is honestly good enough to tempt you to lick the plate clean. I rarely enjoy seafood dishes, and this one is just to die for.
I also enjoy the Chicken and Three Cheese Quesadillas with Chihuahua, parmesan, and manchego cheeses, poblano chiles, corn, zucchini, and grilled chicken served with pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole. This makes a great lunch or even appetizer to share among the table. The cheese combination is divine and they are pretty much just fun to eat because I am a huge fan of finger food.
Although I rarely eat dessert, I did save recently save some room to satisfy my sweet tooth and ordered the Bread Pudding 3 Leches, which is a classic bread pudding with a moist tres leches, hint of cinnamon, splash of rum, and caramelized carrot topping. Mmmmmm…..it was as if a carrot cake mated with bread pudding and this was their love child that got the best attributes of each. It was super moist like bread pudding, but not too sweet like carrot cake. It had just the right balance of spicy and sweet, and the cinnamon was pronounced overdone. I absolutely loved this dessert and would definitely save room for it again!
Overall, Jaguar is the spot to be. It has outdoor seating that is ideal for people watching, as well as basking in nice weather. And the inside is equally as beautiful with artwork and bold colors adorning the walls. The servers are attentive and fast, and the wait for a table is never too long. The owner is also always around and makes sure that everyone is satisfied. The one and only time that I had to wait a rather long time for a table, the owner comp-ed us our pitcher of sangria and thus we left happy…happy and drunk! Ohhh, and one pitcher of Sangria will get you drunk. I did not know this the first time, and ended up having to take a cab home from my 7 O’clock dinner because I was too drunk to drive!