New restaurants are popping up all over Miami. Here are five that have us excited.
“Top Chef” winner Jeremy Ford’s new solo project is one of the most anticipated openings of the Fall season. You’ll come here with a date who is into food and cocktails that may require tweezers to prepare. But there’s plenty for the less-initiated epicureans to love as well. Most dishes toggle between a look-at-me artistry and others simply go for the gut.
A Hawaiian Kajiki fish is served with a spicy buttermilk dressing, sea grapes and Asian pear, while a vegetarian-friendly warm celery root with comes with a “crackling” maitake mushroom and mustard froth. The smoked foie gras is presented dramatically with a glass dome cover, containing smoke and accompanied by Homestead boniato tortellini, marcona almond and spiced quince.
Pastry chef Dallas Wyne (formerly of Ariete) keeps the culinary fireworks going with dishes like the Corn Pavlova — corn custard topped with white meringue — and the Croustillant, a chocolate layer cake.
Chef/couple Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth — both “Top Chef” alums — have partnered on Stiltsville Fish Bar. It’s their second Miami restaurant (after Sarsaparilla Club) and a collaboration with Grove Bay Hospitality, which gave us the Grove’s Glass and Vine.
The seafood concept is inspired by McInnis’ childhood, growing up in Florida’s panhandle, fishing and boating in the Gulf waters, and the pair’s love of simply prepared seafood.
Be prepared to eat lots of fresh fish…and fried chicken. (Jeff McInnis, who was co-creator of Yardbird, is involved after all). Several types of local fish are offered on a nightly basis, presented on ice in a claw-foot bathtub including: yellow jack, cobia, triple tail, grouper, snapper, and pompano. Prices attempt to keep things neighborhood-friendly with starters $8-$17 and mains $22-$38.
Three by Norman Van Aken
Celebrity chef Norman Van Aken has returned to Miami (and he’s chosen Wynwood!) to open Three, a multi-faceted space that includes a fine dining restaurant, a rooftop bar and a soon-to-be-opened cooking school.
Known as the founding father of New World Cuisine, Van Aken has partnered with hospitality veterans Susan Buckley and Candace Walsh to oversee operations. The young new chef de cuisine touching every dish is Miami’s Miguel Massens, whose background includes the groundbreaking Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry and Spain’s Arzak, consistently named among the best restaurants in the world.
Be prepared to eat Van Aken’s elevated Floridian cuisine — the culinary guidepost from which the chef hangs a variety of ethnic influences, from Caribbean to Latin to Asian. But since Van Aken is a student of world cuisine, constantly being inspired by his travels and interactions, we get Senegalese-inspired snapper (no doubt inspired by his pastry chef Mame Sow who is Senegalese) and a Vietnamese-style grouper.
Three is also one of a handful of South Florida restaurants to offer only a fixed price menu: a three-course menu ($60) with an option for dessert and cheese at an additional cost, and a four-course menu ($75) also with dessert and cheese at an additional cost.
Popovers and aged steaks have returned to South Beach.
The restaurant (whose initials stand for Bistro Laurent Tourondel) reopened recently in the refurbished Iberostar Berkeley Hotel, formerly the Berkeley Shore. Chef Carlos Torres (LT Steak & Seafood and 660 at the Anglers) runs the kitchen.
The bread service here is hard to resist: Those trademark warm popovers come sailing to your table as you settle in with the menu, along with a ramekin of chicken liver spread and pickled vegetables — a mini-meal before the meal.
Refreshing salads include the roasted beets and a classic lobster Cobb. The tuna tartare comes nestled in an ice bed and is seasoned with soy-lime dressing accompanied by potato waffle chips for crunch. Steaks comprise USDA Prime Certified Angus beef, including the 28-day, dry-aged New York strip, Kansas City bone-in strip and Porterhouse for two.
Sides of barbecue creamed corn and jalapeno mashed potatoes add to the gluttony.
Save room for desserts such as the peanut butter chocolate mousse with banana ice cream or the carrot cake with ginger ice cream.
Chef Carlos Zheng brings Nikkei cuisine, the food of the Japanese diaspora in Peru, to his new South of Fifth spot, Sakura 736. Zheng hails from Peru where he mastered Peruvian techniques and later studied under the great Japanese master sushi chef Noboru Sanada.
Dive in with small plates of wild mushroom tobanyaki, shishito peppers, hamachi crispy rice (here seasoned with an aji sweet truffle soy) and a quinoa salad.
Aji amarillo, the tangy Peruvian pepper with subtle, flavor-packed heat, brightens many small, typically Japanese dishes. Such is the case with the edamame seasoned with aji amarillo sea salt and the namesake Sakura Ceviche, with salmon marinated in a passion fruit aji amarillo reduction, topped with crispy red and white quinoa, and served with a salad of mixed tomatoes, avocado, and green tosaka.
Fresh fish, raw or citrus-marinated, is the heart of Nikkei cuisine. It’s offered here in many variations from the Tiradito Classico bathed in leche le tigre to the seafood-topped Kaisen sushi made with torched mozzarella, shiso and crispy shallots.