On a recent trip to Miami, I was showing a friend the famous Lincoln Rd. While we were looking for places to eat we settled on Maya Tapas and Grill. I couldn’t recall ever eating there before. But walking into the restaurant on my way to the rest room, deja vu. I had been here before. This was a cozy little French bistro circa 2000. I had frequented this place often and enjoyed many bottles of fine spirits with friends prior to hitting the South Beach night scene. Oh la la, I was in for a treat.
As most Lincoln Rd restaurants, the prime seating is outdoor under the cool umbrellas. Maya has a very small interior with a bar and kitchen. The menu boasts Spanish and Argentine Tapas fusion. Nice, a good representation of the South Beach landscape. As we sat and was getting ready to peer over the menu, our waiter showed up. He was nice and cordial. Waters were served to my other two dining companions but he forgot mine. As we placed a couple of orders, I checked into Foursquare, there was a coupon for 20% off or a free glass of wine. Awesome. So I let our server know. He said that I should choose one and suggested 20%, I said, I would let him know. I ordered a glass of wine. Upon service I could immediately tell that it was corked, the vinegared quaff rose from the table. I returned it. Our server was put off, but brought another glass.
The food showed up. Soup of the Day: Asparagus Soup, boring , watery and bland. Spicy Calamari Maya, Fried Calamari Peperchinni Vinaigret and diced tomatoes. The coating was soggy but the calamari tasted fresh. Grilled Chorizo Argentino, with House Made Chimichurri. Chorizo was nicely grilled or was it deep fried? Chimichurri was all vinegar. They should not waste time doing injustice to the chimichurri. Garlic Shrimp, Jumbo Shrimp In a Lite Garlic Sauce. Fresh shrimp full of flavors. Hummus, Smashed Garbanzo Beans and Herbs. All garbanzo, no herbs or any other flavors. Eggplant Tapenade, Spanish Style Eggplant Puree with Crostini. Mushy with no flavor. Olive Tapenade, Served with Pita Bread. Apart from the olive flavor, nothing. A less than exciting interpretation of Spanish or Argentine food or fusion?
After the meal, a busser came to remove the plates, our server was nowhere to be seen. Then he got another table and just kept going in and out without even noticing us. I waved another busser over and requested our check. He told our server who came over and asked if we were ready for the check. Of course we were, we waited and then got a busser to tell him and he still came over and asked? Why not ask how was the meal? Needless to say, out came the check, guess what? There was no discount, he never asked. Hold on there is more, there was an automatic gratuity added of 18%! So I waited patiently, and the server kept ignoring us. Then I got up and went over to find him. Oh, it was my fault that I did not remind him, and the 18% was always applied to any check on Lincoln Rd. Really? When did that start happening? I lived and visited South Beach on and off from 1997 and never was an automatic gratuity applied to my check. I have to add that all this time the manager and his boys stood out along Lincoln Rd and tried to get other customers to sit and eat. There was a moment in front of the world when the manager reached for his lower parts front and back and scratched. What in the wide world is going on in this place?
If this is the standard of service and food on Lincoln Rd. in a newer establishment, I am curious to know how their Ocean Dr. location fares. Or for that matter anywhere else these days. This company took over a spot where service and food was spot on. Is current trend to tapas replacing good food and service? I sure hope not. I am hoping that a beautiful destination such as Lincoln Rd and South Beach with its world class cooking schools and hospitality institution, will not allow this less than stellar establishment to represent them.