DARWINS: An Evolution

March 02, 2012

Posted By: Megan Greenberg

If you are doing anything right now other than eating at Darwin’s on 4th, you should be ashamed of yourself.  Doctors, leave your surgeries.  Mothers, leave your children.  Everybody, stop what you are doing and head to this restaurant.  It’s a food lover’s paradise.  

I could end the article right there.  

In fact, I’m thinking about ending it there and heading over myself.  Nevermind that it’s 11am and they don’t open til dinner.  Perhaps I can find some remnants in the trash.  Too much?

It’s somewhat ironic that the name Darwin itself is so irrevocably linked to evolution because Darwin himself seems to be on a lifelong journey of change and growth.  I would add in improvement, but the term doesn’t seem to fit as everything Darwin Santa Maria creates seems to be as good as it can possibly get.   No, really, Darwin Santa Maria is his actual name.  I know, it seems quite fitting to have such a saintly name when the food you create is heavenly, right?

Many of you locals may know Darwin’s flavorful Peruvian flair from the menus he helped create and cook at Selva, The Cottage on Siesta Key, and the once popular Fred’s, which closed it’s doors a few years ago.  But now, Darwin has his own namesake restaurant which is serving pure excitement on a plate.  Umm, Yuzu-Butter Poached Lobster Tacos, anybody?   This isn’t your traditional throw-some-tail-in-a-taco-and-call-it-a-day dish, these tacos are stuffed with miso-truffle black bean puree, avocado and pico de gallo.  I’m breaking out in a feverish sweat just thinking about them.   How about Amazon Chaufa, a classic Peruvian fried rice dish with duck, shrimp, pork, sweet plantains and an egg?  Yes, an egg!  Darwin is a freaking genius!!   

To my friends, I hope these dishes sound good to you because you are all getting Darwin’s gift cards for any special event in your life.  So will your children.  Nothing says ‘Happy 2nd Birthday’ quite like Chef Darwin’s Skirt Steak.  I assume I will be included as a guest, of course.  

These dishes were so flavorful and light and fantastic it was difficult to stop eating even after the food was gone.  I even gave real consideration to licking my plate and eating my napkin.  Thankfully, our delightfully perfect waitress, Rachel, was there to hold me back and remind me that I still had some of the world’s best cocktail, a Dragonberry Mojito, left in my glass.  I’m not quite sure what Dragonberry is, but I do know that when mixed with one of life’s most tempting cocktails, the mojito, it creates a cocktail that is not to be missed.  Refreshing, sweet, light, flowery and lick-your-lips delicious.  

I have a feeling that Darwin’s is about to be one of my ‘go-to’ restaurants in town.  There are a handful of amazing restaurants in this town that you can count on for beautiful atmosphere, wonderful service, top notch drinks and one hell of a stellar meal and Darwin’s delivers in spades.  

We had more than three girls should legally be allowed to ingest.  We had something from every available food group ever known to humankind.  The truffle risotto put me over the edge as it was done absolutely perfectly.  I know, truffle risotto is 'so over' ..but not here at Darwin's.  This dish shined. 


Pato, a grilled duck breast dish with green pea risotto and criolla roasted red peppers was a beautiful display of Darwin's skills.  And his classic beef filet on skewers with Argentinian chimichurri left us drooling down our shirts.


Thus, it seems only fair that I show you some of the fantastic dishes that we enjoyed during our dinner. 


We opened with Darwin's Tuna Tiradito.  Fresh tuna sashimi, ginger soy sacue, cubes of fresh watermelon and leche de tigre.  This dish takes refreshing to a new level.  The tuna just melted with the juice of the watermelon to create a bite so beautiful it should be outlawed.




We then split a plate of Alitas De Pollo.  Chicken wings, lime, soy sauce, sweet chili and a lovely little scoop of seaweed salad.  What a fun little partner for wings, right?  Unexpected but perfectly paired.  These crunchy little wings were fantastic.



We then enjoyed Darwin's Classic Ceviche.  Seasonal fish, leche de tigre, red onions, cilantro, glazed sweet potato, cancha, cuzco corn skewers.  Ummm.  Yum.  Yum yum yum.



I don't even know what these little corn nut type things are.  They just kind of appeared.  They are ridiculous.  You know the wonderful, crunchy, half-popped, slightly burnt popcorn kernels that gather at the bottom of the bag?  In my home, we fist fight over who gets those little bites of joy.  Now, you can have an entire plate full. 




Truffle Fries are always a hit.  Darwin's are incredible.  Big, fat, juicy potato pieces with a dipping sauce that should be a body lotion.



The food never seemed to stop coming.  At Darwin's...this is a great thing.  The Three Kitcheneers have big appetites. 


Here is Darwin's Skirt Steak.  This dish was primo.  The meat was so tender, the plantains so sweet, the chimichurri so spot on.  I'm in love.



I'm sure we ate more. 


Dessert was, of course, phenomenal.  Darwin blew it out of the water with his famous 'Tumbao' Pot of Mousse, a dessert so rich and decadent then encased in a hard chocolate shell.  But, my favorite was the banana flan.  It was the perfect ending to a meal I will not soon forget.



Check it out for yourself at www.Darwins4th.com







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