Wine bar does its part to elevate MetroWestâ??s dining scene

MetroWest's aspirations of becoming an upscale residential community pretty much fizzled when a Wal-Mart Supercenter opened its doors on Kirkman Road back in 2001, and when widely reported cases of criminal activity scared many of its residents to parts east, north and south.

But Mario Miranda ('Mir�) and Aristides Mendoza ('oza�) are fronting an effort to inject some much-needed style, panache and crime-free dining into this chain-centric cookie-cutter community. Their swanky wine bar, located within a stone's throw of the Hard Rock corporate offices, is aimed at MetroWest bons vivants, many of whom pop in for an après-work drink, then slink, flirt and flounder by the granite-top bar. For those venturing past the high-top tables and open kitchen, a small, intimate dining room beckons ' a hushed, soothing nook disrupted only by the weepy shriek of '80s rock playing at a level Loverboy lead singer Mike Reno himself would deem too loud. If there's a plus, there's a good chance you'll exit Miroza with 'Hot Girls in Love� chiming in your head.

That aside, you'd think that their 70-plus-label wine list would be proffered shortly after being seated, but one had to be requested ' odd seeing that this is a wine bar. Still, a glass of Chilean Cremaschi Furlotti cabernet sauvignon paired nicely with the 'stunningâ?� cheese board ($9.50), a triangular plate with cubes of cheddar, Swiss, provolone, manchego and bleu cheese served with figs, grapes, apple slices and crackers. Not sure what was stunning about it, as it resembled the pre-made cheese plates you can buy at Publix, but the starter was an appropriate, and satisfying, initiation.

Executive chef Elkin Flores takes pride in his globally influenced dishes, like beef-lamb samosas ($8) and seafood ceviche ($12). His tropical smoked-duck Napoleon ($9) made for an interesting plating with bits of spicy mango, papaya and jicama mixed with boursin cream cheese and layered between three wonton crackers. Admittedly, the triple-decker dish is a little hard to eat and falls apart when the crackers become soggy, but I liked the crunchy jicama and smoky sweetness of the duck.

The presentation was a highlight of the grilled churrasco steak ($19.50), the national dish of Argentina. The mammoth slab comes horizontally folded around a mound of mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables, then topped with curls of carrot shavings. The meat had the requisite flavor and juiciness, but serving it with more than just a drizzle of chimichurri would've been a marked improvement.

The marinated grilled grouper ($19.50), a flaky fillet sitting atop asparagus-specked pesto risotto, was flawlessly executed and ravenously devoured.

I was disappointed to learn that their upside-down tiramisu was no longer offered; even a mediocre tiramisu would've been better than the overly sweetened crème brûlée cheesecake ($6) or the average double-chocolate ganache cake ($6).

Dining here can easily become a two-hour experience ' more than an hour passed before our entrees arrived and 25 minutes went by before dessert was laid before us, and we were the only ones in the dining room!

Still, Miroza is steering the MetroWest dining scene in the right direction and, as I left, I heard the fitting words of Bon Jovi, not Loverboy, ring out right on cue: 'Whoaaa, we're halfway there ��

(At press time, we learned that Miroza has hired a new chef, who plans to revise the menu. During the reorganization, the restaurant will be open 4 p.m.-midnight.)

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