Sneak Peek Review of Mamajuana Cafe

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Adrienne at head of bar

An email invitation lands in my inbox promoting free Mamajuana mojitos and appetizers from 7pm-9pm one Friday night at this relatively new restaurant in Coral Gables--Mamajuana Cafe.

Good marketing technique for customers to sample the food, drink and ambience before deciding to stay for dinner or return for future dining visit. Did they execute? Well, that's another story.

My friend Adrienne and I arrived promptly at 7pm. The bar was naturally packed so ten minutes lapsed before I could get bartender's attention (a female on my end) and order my free Mamajuana mojito. When I asked about the appetizers, she plead ignorance and directed me to the hostess. So I when turned to hostess #1, she knew nothing. Hmm, do I sense "false advertising"? She turned to hostess #2 who indicated it was later. I picked up the promotional postcard sitting in front of her and pointed to the 7pm-9pm time frame. She confirmed. I said it was 7:30pm. An evening for unwinding and new discoveries was quickly becoming wrought with frustration and hunger pangs. Not a good first impression.

Scanning the dining room, I spotted a waiter placing a large appetizer tray on the bar for a group of customers. Did they order it or was that the free appetizers? Like a woman on a mission, I deftly manuveured through the crowd to grab hold of the waiter's arm. Switching demeanors from agile Laura Croft (Tomb Raider) to a soft spoken southern belle, I politely asked about the free appetizers. The waiter apologized they couldn't bring them out fast enough but promised to beeline to our spot at the bar. Sure enough he did.

A fresh, hot tray of their pizza with manchego, cheese, serrano ham, and truffle oil glided under our olfactory senses. The first bite did not disappoint and met our expectations. After we lingered every bite, we were ready for more but the route from kitchen to bar was void of any waiters. Where's the food? A young gentlemen, overdressed in a suit and tie, standing near and surveying the bar, signaled the possibility he might be a manager. When I asked, he indeed was the assistant manager. When I shared my discontent at this marketing promotion (and I didn't warn him that I was a blogger of Miami restaurants), he immediately brought out an entire tray just for us. Another pizza? This was a humble, cheese pizza. Quickly I was bored.

The two gentlemen standing next to us overheard my woes and offered to share their appealing appetizers. It was delicious--but they had no idea what they ordered. One was a pita bread for dipping into an unknown heavenly puree that is not listed on their online menu. The next was garlic shrimp in olive oil. The standard, nothing memorable but a safe choice for the non-adventurer.

Christine with fellow customers

Overall REVIEW:

1. Overall promotion to sample the food and drinks--POOR. No surprise there. However...

2. Thumbs up for the Pizza with Serrano ham, manchego cheese and truffle oil. However I would not order the plain, cheese pizza. Unfortunately I did not see the main menu to get an idea if it was worth returning for dinner.

3. While the website is culturally appealing to the food and art connosseur, the restaurant falls into the trap of not listing their current menu items. Note to self: Recommend they hire a marketing manager to oversee seamless connection of all marketing efforts.

4. The mamajuana mojito tasted like any other mojito. Where's the mojo in this juana?
So my next question, what is the story behind the name "mamajuana"? I was expecting a bohemian establishment not an elegant, Spanish, colonial theme restaurant. The answer: Mamajuana is a "miracle" potion created centuries ago in Quisqueya by the Taino Indians, present-day Dominican Republic. Mamajuana is a concoction of herbs, roots and spices, mixed with rum, wine and honey. It was said to cure almost anything from soar throats, to impotency, to the stomach flu. It is also considered an aphrodisiac. The brew is prepared today by only a handful of families in the Dominican Republic to keep the tradition alive.

I wonder if there is another Mamajuana drink apart from the mojito? I'll have to return and ask.

5. A+ for ambience. The decor and crowd magically melded to an alluring sensation and you felt instantly transported to a golden, colonial time period complete with artistic artifacts and a balance mix of socialites.

Mamajuana attracts a more mature crowd from age thirty and above with a peppering of young kids in their twenties. Like an endangered species, establishments that cater to an older age group are few and far between.

Recently I received another email invitation for free mojitos at Mamajuana (appetizers were not included). Aaah, they learned their lesson.

Would I return? Yes but only if invited. I doubt I would voluntarily go for dinner but I would return to the bar for happy hour. It's definitely a great spot to mingle with professionals my age (40 years young!)

REMEMBER, Rule #1 at events with free food--station your group to closest spot to the kitchen!

Older couple on a date start dancing. Other couples join immediately.
for only a $1.00/day!
Contact Christine for details

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  1. Thanks Christine for your detailed reviews. I'm new to Miami and your personal experience give me a real inside view as if I were there!


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