The Goods: Juvia brings a new level of dining to Miami and Miami Beach – literally – as it sits atop the stylish 1111 Lincoln Road garage with spectacular views of Miami Beach to the North and East.
Ambience: Finally a restaurant that is uniquely Miami, combining a perfect mix of upscale and relaxed chic. From the purple colors that dominate the dining room, to the outdoor space (seating for 60) that incorporates water features and a vertical garden, you realize upon entering there is nothing like this in Miami. The music is handled by an in-house DJ imported from France who plays on the outdoor patio and takes you from familiar old school favorites early in the evening to house music beats by the end of the night. The interior of the indoor space (seating for 80) is dressed in off-white, distressed wood, giving you that Hamptons beach feel. The open kitchen allows you to keep an eye on all things tasty, while floor to ceiling windows frame the spectacular views. Finally, the subtly back-lit amethyst gemstone topped bar, which seats 13, is indoors, has visitors facing the kitchen, but behind you is an unobstructed view to the East over Lincoln Road.
The Grub: Asian meets Peruvian cuisine prepared with classic French techniques, leaving plenty of flavors to savor. Prices are in line with top flight restaurants: starters $16-$22, mains $24-$45 and sides $8-$10. Must orders include the Tuna Poke, the causa croquet (with tuna, Peruvian potato, ají amarillo, red onion topped with micro cilantro), the Salmon Nashi (truffle oil, dry miso, micro arugula) and the chocolate Unagi (Causa, chocolate eel sauce). Their version of the wedge salad was plenty for sharing, crisp and tasty with a mix of figs and tomatoes. The presentation was dramatic. The ribeye was a solid choice for entree, along with the ping-pong ball sized scallops (black trumpet, yellow chanterelles, garlic chips). Cocktails start at $12 and are highlighted by the must-order Purple Rain (made with Grey Goose, chicha morada, a type of Purple Peruvian corn, and fresh lemon sour) and the equally as good rum-based Flamingo. Desserts included Juvia’s own take on Key Lime Pie, served in a glass with long, thin marshmallows. Service was solid (we recommend you ask for Derek who was on point). The talent in the kitchen includes executive chef Laurent Cantineaux, a protégé of chef Daniel Boulud; executive chef Sunny Oh, who was at the helm of Nobu Restaurant on South Beach for more than a decade; executive sous chef Kaoru Chang, also a Nobu alum; and corporate pastry chef Gregory Gourreau, who worked alongside icons Alain Ducasse and Francois Payard.
Backstory: Robert Wennett the owner of the 1111 Lincoln Road garage, was a big fan of Bonito, Juvia’s sister restaurant in St. Barth’s. (We hear that was the only thing he liked on the island.) Ironically, the owners of Bonito, Jonas and Alexandra Millan, had been looking for a space in Miami and called to inquire about some first floor space at the garage. When they called Wennett’s office they were told the space they liked had been rented out to Juicy Couture. Asked to leave their name of business in case anything opened up, upon hearing it was Bonito, Wennett’s secretary informed the owners it was her boss’s favorite place. Soon after Wennett called to pitch the penthouse space as a spot for their restaurant and the rest is history… Juvia is the Brazilian name for the lofty myrtaceous tree which produces the large seeds known as Brazil nuts… The original plan was for the restaurant to open on Nov. 11, 2011 – 11/11/11 at 1111 Lincoln Rd., get it? – but construction delays halted that idea. As the restaurant was being built and trying to get past typical delays and permit challenges, a test kitchen was being operated in Coral Gables to get the kitchen staff ready to go once the doors were open… The 10,000 square-foot space features a vertical garden, designed by internationally acclaimed botanist Patrick Blanc, which invokes the lushness of the Amazon rainforest.
Verdict: A one-of-a-kind experience that’s a game-changer in the Miami dining scene.