For the past several months Por Fin, the pricey, white linen Spanish restaurant located just off Miracle Mile, has been undergoing a facelift and is to open early 2013 as a tapas bar, Bulla (pronounced Boo-ya).
Owner Carlos Centurion said he's looking to attract a younger crowd with a more casual setting and the small plates that have been taking over the menu of restaurants across Miami.
"My father was financing the project and he liked fancy," Centurion said of the original restaurant.
However a trip to New York City and meals at restaurants like Seamus Mullen's Tertulia and Boqueria changed all that.
Por Fin's bar has been moved downstairs and rebuilt as a large rectangle that's to be the focal point of Bulla. There will also be a small charcuterie and cheese station enticing patrons who might be stopping in for an after work drink to also grab a bite.
"I don't want to people to come in, have their six Johnny Walkers and leave," Centurion said.
An open kitchen sits near the center of the main room, which will be wrapped with stained wood panels and banquettes. Expect large communal tables, where you might rub shoulders with the professional crowd - mostly bankers and lawyers - from nearby offices. The restaurant's exterior will be repainted from a stark white to a warmer hue.
The menu will feature about 20 smaller dishes as well as two to three larger plates. Centurion said he's confident diners will take to a Spanish tapas menu without some run-of-the-mill option.
"We had pasta, we had a Caesar salad, they were popular, but we're not going to have it" anymore, he said. "We'll do fun and weird stuff." Despite the urge to change, Por Fin earned a favorable review from the New Times back in 2008. Yet that was back in 2008. Luis Quant will remain head chef. He took over after Marc Vidal, who opened Por Fin, left to run the now closed Solea at the W South Beach.
The upstairs remains, but Centurion is cleverly repurposing it as corporate space with projectors and dividers that can be used for sales or training meetings.
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It seems restaurateurs and chefs on and around Miracle Mile are starting to feel the pressure from the growing popularity of restaurants in downtown, Wynwood and the Design District. Sushi Maki chief Abe Ng earlier this year opened PaoTown, a small plates Asian concept nearby. John Kunkel's 50 Eggs Restaurant Group is set to open Swine Southern Table & Bar, albeit without former Top Chef toque Kenny Gilbert. Whether a hip younger crowd will follow suit remains to be seen.
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