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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Finka Table and Tap

     What do you get when you mix Cuban 'vaca frita', Korean barbecue ribs, Peruvian ceviche, ranch-style decor, and '60s oldies music? No, not chaos. Not if it's done with creativity and attention to detail.
     Finka defines eclecticism. The broadly diverse fusion menu is not an accident or the result of an absence of purpose. It's deliberate, and the ingenuous minds behind it knew exactly what they were doing. The concept for this gastropub was born to the descendants of Cuban cuisine royalty. The founders of Islas Canarias, a staple in Southwest Miami for over 30 years, are the grandparents of Jon and Eileen Andrade, the young creators of this buzzing new establishment.
      Even before you walk in, you get a preview of what awaits in the form of  'the Finka Couch', a bull made entirely of horseshoes that doubles as a bench and sits politely to the side of the door. Once inside, the place speaks 'ranch'- wagon wheels, blown glass pendant lamps hanging from ropes, and stable tools on the walls.
     My aperitif was called 'Summer Love', a mystical concoction that included elements such as honey vodka, cardamom syrup, and egg whites among others.This unlikely mixture resulted in a perplexing flavor. It was bitter but also sweet; it left a trace of aromatic spice but also of fragrant flowers. Based on such polarity, I shouldn't have liked it, but I did... very much.
     John ordered a Two Brothers (Ebel's Weiss) beer and thought it tasted like a Miller Light. I'm not sure how the Two Brothers would interpret that.
     In spite of its variety, the menu is not unusually lengthy but it's an intentionally smart and comprehensive representation of the three main cultural themes.
     John ordered the Korean pork ribs served over a bed of truffle fries, which looked more like potato sticks than fries. Hubby picked the bones clean, but he insists it was out of his general penchant for ribs, not because these were particularly exceptional. I had the Vaca Frita with glass noodles and found the dish generous, savory and comforting.
     Dessert options were not plentiful; in fact, they don't actually have a dessert menu yet. From the limited choices available, I made an executive decision and ordered the 'natilla', the Cuban version of custard. This one comes in a glass with a layer of pulverized Oreos at the bottom, then natilla, chocolate fudge and topped with walnuts. It was good for that last bite of sweetness to end the meal, but John tasted it and said, "Oh, so 'natilla' means pudding." It was that ordinary.
     Without a doubt, this is a place of sharp contrasts, bold flavor couplings and unexpected culinary turns. It works. Nevertheless, most of their repeat customers are probably going to be of Latin background and authorities on many of these specialty dishes. Caution must be taken to present assertively full-flavored dishes with consistency.

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