This past Saturday night, far from the official SoBeWFF pop-ups and gala dinners, the owners of Uruguay's Parador La Huella set up their grills for a private party just off of Biscayne Bay. They gave guests a taste of what to expect when Quinto La Huella opens later this year in the new Brickell City Centre.
Twice voted tops in Uruguay on the list of Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants, Gustavo Barbero's Parador La Huella will open its first location outside of South America in Miami.
"We're very proud to be able to open in the United States," he told us, amidst the live music and smoke from the grills.
Quinto La Huella will be the centerpiece of East, the new hotel from the Swire Group, which will be housed in one of the towers of the new complex. For what is also their first venture in the United States, Swire did an extensive search for the right restaurant.
"[They] wanted to have a Latin touch on their restaurant here in Miami. They asked various magazines and references in the culinary world, 'What restaurants should we get to know in Latin America that we could open in Miami?' We were lucky enough that everyone said we were the place," said Barbero.
The menu for the evening featured plenty of flesh, including chorizo, lamb, langoustines, and sides of salmon cooked over red-hot coals, showcasing the variety of terrain that Uruguayan cuisine has to offer. One guest, a native of Uruguay who has spent the last ten years living in the United States, noted that the crab croquettes weren't part of his upbringing, but do offer an homage to the seafood culture of Miami.
Both snacks and main courses were paired with Tannat wines, made from Uruguay's signature grape, a sweet, slightly acidic balance to the smokiness of the plates. Quinto La Huella will also be working with Panther Coffee, which had representatives on hand to serve up cold brew, syphon, and pour over coffees.
Although Parador La Huella is located in Jose Ignacio, a popular summer destination on the coast of Uruguay, diners in Miami can expect the same from the new restaurant which will be located on the fifth floor of the hotel. (Quinto translates to fifth in Spanish.)
"We want to bring fire to Miami. So, they're designing a restaurant for us that will allow us to do it. We'll have two mud ovens that work with live fire. And Uruguayan beef," Barbero said enthusiastically. Brickell City Centre doesn't appear anywhere close to being finished, but all parties involved in the restaurant are hoping for an opening in December.
Geoffrey Zakarian, of Iron Chef fame, was also on hand with his wife, and spent quite a bit of time chatting up Stephen Owens, president of Swire Properties. Perhaps for their second venture in the United States, Swire will collaborate with the celebrated New York chef. For now, we're waiting for more of that lamb on the grill.