Everybody Loves Cacao

Venezuelan chef Edgar Leal offers up acclaimed cuisine in Coral Gables.
Cacao Restaurant, a little-known treasure located in the heart of Coral Gables, Fla., is the carefully nourished offspring of internationally acclaimed executive chef Edgar Leal.

Cacao (which mean “chocolate” in Spanish) evokes the overall concept of a dining experience that is divine to all the senses – delectable on the palate, sensuous to the eyes, ears ,and touch. And finally, to the nose, with the wafting aroma of outstanding cuisine, fine wines, and handmade chocolate.

Cacao’s cuisine is contemporary Latin American, based on classic recipes that have endured, in some cases, for centuries. Chef Leal’s recipes are unique interpretations adapted from the cuisines of the Pan Latin region, which extends from the northern reaches of Mexico to the southernmost regions of Argentina’s Patagonia and from Guyana in the east to the western coastlines of Chile and Ecuador. Each of Cacao’s unique dishes exemplifies the influences, spices, and special touches that are prominent in each region.

In addition to its fashionable bar, Cacao is one of about 10 percent of restaurants in the world to store its wines in a temperature- and humidity controlled room. As unique as Cacao’s glass enclosed wine room is its eclectic wine list, with over 200 selections from around the globe – California, Italy, France, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and Spain.

Cacao has earned numerous accolades, including a Zagat Survey top restaurant ranking in 2004 and a glowing write-up in Time magazine. The Wine Spectator has said “The dishes sound simple, but Leal’s flavors are intricately woven,” and “an experience unattainable anywhere else.” Food and Wine has named Cacao one of its Best New Restaurants.

Daily lunch specials consist of such dishes as Colombian Ajiaco Soup, Frango Catupiri, Caribbean Seafood Bouillabaisse, Caramelized Beef “Asado,” and Corvina Veracruzana Style. The meal should be accompanied by a special wine selection from sommelier Rich Di Giacomo.

The dinner menu starts off with such luscious soups as Seafood Casuelita and the amazing Potato Foam – Huancaína Style. Appetizers are a veritable cornucopia of Latin American flavor, with Warm “Cachapa” Corn Soufflé, Crispy Shrimp with Rocoto, Yuca Carimañolas, Baby Octopus Causa, Corvina Cerviche with Guacamole, Trio of Fish Tiraditos, Reina Pepiada, Argentinean Style Empanadas, and more. Main courses include Shrimp and Scallop “Quinoto,” Rabbit Legs “Guisado,” Short Rib Ossobuco, Wild Boar Tenderloin Anticucho, and other exotic dishes. If you can’t make up your mind, Cacao offers a comprehensive tasting menu that will help you decide what full course to order on your next visit. Sweeten your experience with one of the restaurant’s enticing desserts, such as Guava & Cream Cheese Empanadas, Caramelized Pineapple & Mango Frangipan Tart, “El Rey” Chocolate Trio Fantasy, Icoa White Chocolate Mousse, and Grand Samán Velvet Chocolate Mousse Dome. Available coffees come from all over the world—Blue Mountain from Jamaica, Lago Azul from Guatemala, Papouasie from New Guinea, Pico from San Cristobal, Yrgasheffe from Ethiopia, Blue Tawar from Java, Kilimandjara from Kenya, Mare Rouge from Haiti, and the rarest coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak from Indonesia.

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