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Walrus Rodeo

  • Restaurants
  • Buena Vista
  1. Walrus Rodeo
    Photograph: Falyn WoodWalrus Rodeo
  2. Walrus Rodeo
    Photograph: Falyn WoodMustard green lasagna at Walrus Rodeo
  3. Walrus Rodeo
    Photograph: Falyn WoodPotato gnocchi at Walrus Rodeo
  4. Walrus Rodeo
    Photograph: Falyn WoodBust a Rhyme dessert at Walrus Rodeo
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Time Out says

Where Boia De lacks space, the team's new concept, Walrus Rodeo, lacks a sense of intimacy or story and the food, though good, doesn't justify the prices.

Eating at Walrus Rodeo for the first time, it’s easy to see how the restaurant on the edge of Buena Vista and Little Haiti is an extension of its very popular sister, Boia De. For starters, they’re located in the same building, in an unassuming and frankly rundown strip mall, just a few doors down from each other.

On the outside, they both beckon you in with friendly, hand-drawn signage and a smattering of young-ish, trendy-ish people milling around. Upon entering, a serene host will ask if you have a reservation (and let’s hope you do).

Walrus Rodeo
Photograph: Falyn WoodMustard Green Lasagna at Walrus Rodeo

Once you’ve secured a table, your knowledgeable server will suggest sharing an assortment of small plates, and kindly request that you put in your full order at the same time. It will arrive coursed at the chef’s discretion, interspersed with whatever low-ABV beverages you’ve chanced select. And that’s where the comparisons end, more or less.

That’s not to say Walrus Rodeo, the new concept from Boia De’s Michelin-starred co-chef/owners Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer, doesn’t strive for a similarly understated yet ambitious menu and service-oriented experience. But there are a few key ingredients that Walrus fails to carry over from its predecessor and neighbor, making it feel more like a well-intended afterthought than a full-fleshed, standalone destination.

Walrus Rodeo
Photograph: Falyn WoodPotato gnocchi at Walrus Rodeo

Helmed by chef/partner Jeff Maxfield, a corporate chef known for working alongside the decorated Chef Brad Kilgore, Walrus’ contemporary kitchen centers around the hulking wood-fired oven, a remnant from the space’s previous life as a pizza joint. Everything on the ever-evolving menu benefits from the kiss of its flames, borrowing flavors and techniques from Italy to Mexico to the Caribbean.

Highlights include the wonderfully hued mustard green lasagna ($26), a neat, crusty-edged rectangle of gooey lamb ragu and stracchino; and the porcelet porchetta ($48), salty, tender slices of meat served with lettuce wraps and topped with pepperonata and ranch to offset all the lovely fat. The pillows of crispy-skinned potato gnocchi ($45) doused in creamy celery root sauce turn to actual silk in your mouth; and the savory-sweet wood oven quail ($30) served atop a pile of tangy pickliz makes for a few very tasty, micro-sized bites.

Walrus Rodeo
Photograph: Falyn WoodBust a Rhyme dessert at Walrus Rodeo

Through to dessert (a $12 churro piped over with toasted marshmallow and drizzled with Oaxacan chocolate was our favorite), the food at Walrus Rodeo was good—though earlier dishes like the charbroiled oysters ($26) and carrot tartare ($22) were overpriced and unmemorable. Taken together, the menu didn’t feel anywhere near as cohesive or thoughtful as Boia De’s, nor did the accompanying wine-based cocktail menu ($16 each) pair as intentionally.

Perhaps most perplexing (aside from the restaurant’s name, the meaning of which at least one server was unable to explain to our table) the ambiance of Walrus Rodeo—a diner-adjacent hodgepodge of colors, materials and patterns with no discernible throughline—does little to justify the exorbitant prices of everything on the menu. Though it shares the same designer as beautiful Boia De, Paula Lemme, Walrus’ jumbled aesthetic lacks any sense of intimacy or story and instead left us feeling confused.

After spending $150 per person on dinner and a couple low-alcohol drinks, we couldn’t help but wonder, standing out in the shopping center parking lot, trying to summon happier memories from the last time we got a table at Boia De, whether Walrus Rodeo is taking us all on a bit of a ride.

Falyn Wood
Written by
Falyn Wood

Details

Address:
5143 NE 2nd Ave
Miami
33137
Price:
$$$
Opening hours:
Thu–Mon 6–11PM
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