This is the year’s “Started from the bottom, now we’re here” restaurant. Rare 125° Neighborhood Grill is where I send anybody who asks me where to get an impeccably cooked and flavorful meat. Nobody has been disappointed.
Puerto Rican cuisine was gifted with la crème de la crème when Xavier Toro decided to open his first restaurant, Rare 125°, located in the heart of Miramar. With more than 18 years of experience in the culinary industry, Toro started “on the floor”, studied culinary arts and worked his way up through being a chef and general manager of different restaurants in town.
“I did it all from scratch!” Toro proudly said.
His creativity, passion and attention to detail led him to become one of the top chefs in Puerto Rico. A wine connoisseur, Toro displays authenticity in his menu and a true devotion to the culinary experience he offers.
“I draw inspiration from everything that I see and eat in my travels. I’ve been blessed to work with top-notch chefs in the island and I read a lot in order to educate myself” Toro said.
Rare 125° has a trendy cool vibe that both locals and tourists enjoy. The service is outstanding and a definite highlight of this restaurant. Servers like Onix Concepción are graceful and attentive, something that truly distinguishes Rare 125°.
The menu is filled with Puerto Rican flavors and it reminds you of the traditional boricua favorites, but don’t be fooled, Toro adds a spin to each one of his plates so you’ll never get a regular item but the crafted Puerto Rican version of it. For example, we started the night with Ñame Gnocchi… “say what!?” you might be thinking. Ñame is a vegetable root that only grows in tropical areas like Puerto Rico. This beautiful appetizer is served over a pumpkin purée that has a light and sweet flavor with Parmigiano-Reggiano and crumbled candied walnuts on top.
Kristen Rivera, the in-house mixologist then offered us customized raw cocktails. She surprised me with the “Broken Heart”, which has Belvedere vodka, raspberries, lime and honey, so delicious! My date for the night was David, my older brother, received a “Pepper Infused Vodka”, a strong cocktail that’s a real crowd pleaser. If you’re not a cocktail lover, you can also pair your meal with any of the eighty bottles of wine you can choose from at Rare 125°.
After enjoying our cocktails, the Tuna Tartare arrived. Apart from its deliciousness, this plate is aesthetically pleasing. The tuna is very fresh, the malanga chips are crunchy and the combination of mango jam and cucumber yogurt is pure genius.
To finish our appetizer course, we got the Hot Mussels with chorizo cantimpalo, tomato broth and garlic toast. This was David’s favorite! Definitely a must-have in Rare 125°.
Puerto Rico’s drinking age is 18 as opposed to NYC where its 21, so it’s not everyday that I get to savor a fine cocktail like the ones Rivera prepares so I went for the second round! This time, she created the “Cinnamon Smoked Vodka” with lemon and ginger, an exquisite sweet and tangy combination.
Now on to our main courses… Toro really graduated when he served me the Salmon Mushroom Risotto. First of all, I’m a risotto lover so this also means I know how to distinguish a good one when I taste it. I had my first risotto in Rome, Italy and I remember saying: “I’ll never taste a better risotto than this one”. Let me tell you how mistaken I was. You don’t have to go too far for the best risotto, you can find it at Rare 125° in Puerto Rico. On top of the salmon, there was a hint of burnt butter béarnaise which gave the whole plate a nice touch of saltiness and the charred asparagus on the side beautifully complemented this creation.
“It’s the small details that drive us” Toro said.
My brother, David, got lucky and got the executive-chef’s personal favorite, the Beef Tenderloin Steak Au Poivre. A classic from the French cuisine, this dish has a tender, juicy steak with a creamy pepper sauce that doesn’t overpower the taste and quality of the meat. My brother described it as “perfect”.
“I ate it a long time ago and I fell in love with it. I love pepper, I love the flavor, the plate…” Toro said.
My brother couldn’t agree more! He accompanied Rare 125°’s specialty with the emblematic Twice Fry Truffle Fries and said the combination was remarkable.
Finally, we ate a traditional Puerto Rican dessert named Tres Leches, Dulce de Leche-flavored. It was a great accent to the end of our fine dinning experience at Rare 125°.
Rare 125° is what I call a “gem”. It is distinguished by the quality of each one of their products and the passion that is put into creating each dish.
“We do everything in house, we don’t buy stuff. From the sauces, the meat, and even grounding the pepper, we do everything here. That and our service means everything to us, I got a great staff behind me. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do anything” Toro said.
There’s so many restaurants around Miramar, but I can assure you, you won’t get a local place as pure and sincere as Rare 125°.
Apart from an amazing steak, you come back to this restaurant for many other reasons. The ambience, the friendly staff, the cocktails, the delicacy and perfection of each plate, the taste. It’s definitely a Puerto Rican gem with a modern twist.
My brother described Rare 125° perfectly.
“New places are usually trying to copy something else, but Rare rocks with its own personality, trendy vibe and killer flavor” he said.
701 Ponce de León Avenue
Edif. Centro de Seguro, Suite 109
Miramar, Puerto Rico