The who: The Miami River channels the Greek Isles with Kiki on the River. A project by nightlife pro Roman Jones, former Philippe Chow Miami managing partner, Aris Nanos, hospitality executive Lee Lyon and envisioned by Mark Lehmkuhl of Ghosthouse Creative Group, the spot has already generated celebrity sightings from local basketball stars to pop music moguls. Chef Steve Rhee (Estiatorio Milos) helms the kitchen.
The space: A lush waterfront hideaway with an inviting outdoor patio overlooking the river and outfitted in blooming bougainvillea, whitewashed walls, secluded “cabana” tables and navy-cushioned seating. Indoors is a polished loft-like space inhabiting a former fish market with signs of its former industrial glory with floor-to-ceiling windows, a glass-encased tree and rich leather chesterfield sofas, vintage lounge chairs and seashell chandeliers.
The dishes: Traditional Greek with modern spins on taverna favorites. Chef Rhee sources ingredients like olive oil, honey and spices from Greece while also maintaining a local and seasonal menu. Prices are on par for the setting with starters averaging $16 and mains in the $30 range.
Start dinner with the Pikilia platter arrayed with tzatziki, smoked eggplant, and homemade hummus along with fresh pita bread. Raw options include oysters, shrimp cocktail and tuna tartare dressed with kalamata olives over avocado puree. Classic Greek salad is prepared with heirloom tomatoes and a plank of creamy feta while the Romaine is redolent of dill, scallions and balsamic vinaigrette.
Appetizers include paper-thin zucchini and eggplant chips, grilled scallops and olive oil-braised octopus. Freshly grilled lavraki (Mediterranean Sea Bass) is deboned table side by Milos vets and dressed with olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and capers. Other whole-seafood options include the Greek tsipoura, local red snapper, and whole grilled lobster. Lamb chops are also on the list of mains, along with lobster pasta and a Black Angus New York sirloin steak. Sides of homemade fries sprinkled with oregano, lemon and feta or grilled vegetables balance out the feast.
Desserts range from the simple-but-elegant scoop of Greek yogurt with thyme honey to the fun, do-it-yourself s’mores platter.
Bottom line: The Miami River continues to be an exciting culinary destination with this dreamy Greek spot.