South Beach gets its newest taste of seasonally-inspired international cuisine this month as New York-based Chef Christopher Lee opens eden in the former Talula space on 23rd Street. We dished with Lee about Miami, sex appeal and the death of fine dining
Tell us a bit about Eden
What appealed to us most about the space – and what drove us crazy about it – was the garden. It’s almost as big as the indoor space and it’s such a beautiful, lush area. We wanted to uphold the South Beach sex appeal and be part of the community, so we came up with Eden. We’re really meant to be eye appeal, flavor cuisine. We really want you to enjoy the restaurant, the space, the garden, the food – a long night of entertaining
Describe the menu
We’re American-influenced, meaning we play with many different types of heritage – if want to go Asian, we go Asian. A little Greek, a little Mediterranean – our goal is to make something that appeals to everyone.
What are your favorite dishes on the menu?
The calamari is creative with a little Thai theme. The romaine hearts salad is a riff of the classic Cesar, but more American style – less anchovies, more cheese. The pork belly is kind of fun, as it’s based on the classic Reuben and brings a little New York flair. And the apple chestnut ravioli is out of control. It’s simple, it’s affordable and it’s one of those things everybody will love.
How do Miami & New York cooking differ?
Everyone has a different opinion. I’m guessing it’s a seafood town, but I could be wrong. You have an idea what the demographic is, but you never know. It’s hard to figure out what Miami really wants – we’re trying to be a great restaurant. We don’t necessarily need to be the best, we’re not trying to reinvent food – we just want people to have fun.
Eden is quite a leap from your fine dining experience
Fine dining is dying –it’s disappearing and I’m not going to be the last guy standing. It just doesn’t work financially anymore. Fine dining was a very haute cuisine, people really enjoyed it – the older clientele enjoyed it. But that’s dying, people don’t want to figure out which fork to use or have people hover over you if you drop a crumb.