Kiki on the River (450 NW North River Dr.) is one of the year's most anticipated openings in Miami, and after kicking things off with lunch, the eatery has officially commenced dinner service. With a prime location overlooking the Miami River, Kiki boasts spectacular waterfront views in a charming garden setting. It's particularly idyllic after the sun sets, when lanterns and string lights give the restaurant a mythical glow.
The menu is a mix of modern and traditional Greek recipes with an emphasis on seafood. Kiki's executive chef, Steve Rhee, is no stranger to this type of cuisine: He was a sous-chef for three years at Estiatorio Milos in Las Vegas before helping open the restaurant's Miami outpost. The California native of Korean descent then went on to cook Italian for four years at the Shore Club in South Beach. Kiki's general manager, Spiros Assimakopoulos, is also a Milos veteran.
Kiki is a passion project by Opium Group founder Roman Jones, former Philippe Chow Miami managing partner Aris Nanos, and hospitality executive Lee Lyon. Ghosthouse Creative Group’s Mark Lehmkuhl, in collaboration with Jay Wall of Thirlwall Design, came up with the original design and interior architecture.
Many of the dishes here are similar to those at Milos, but prices at Kiki are more affordable and the setting is decidedly more laid-back. New Times was recently invited to sample some of Rhee's signature dishes. Here are highlights from the meal.
You can't have a good traditional Greek salad ($18) without perfectly ripe tomatoes and excellent feta cheese. Fortunately, Kiki has both.
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Nicely seasoned and tender, the octopus ($18) is one of the restaurant's top dishes. It's similar to the octopus served at Milos, and Rhee gets particularly excited discussing the mollusk's buttery taste: It's cooked in fat prior to being tenderized.
Dip the crisp and salty pita chips into the center-cut tuna tartare ($21), arranged on creamy avocado purée. This starter is light, fresh, and flavorful and is sure to hit the spot on a warm summer night.
Lavraki, or Mediterranean sea bass, is grilled and then baked in the oven (market price). The fish is dressed with olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and capers. It's incredibly juicy, and the skin has a delicate crunch. It's hard to find any fault with this preparation. Other whole seafood options include the Greek tsipoura, local red snapper, and whole grilled lobster. A side of homemade fries sprinkled with oregano, lemon, and a generous amount of feta is a great accompaniment to any fish main course.
There's nothing Greek about s'mores, but who doesn't love them? Especially when you get to make them yourself. It's difficult to tell in the above photo, but there's a fire inside that black pot.
In addition to serving dinner daily, Kiki also offers a $24.99 prix-fixe lunch special Monday through Saturday and an-all day à la carte menu Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.