Semilla Eatery & Bar, a new gastropub by chef Frederic Joulin, opens tonight at 6 p.m.
Located at 1330 Alton Road in South Beach, this industrial-chic space is decorated with pots of live herbs, which will change with the seasons. Joulin, partner and executive chef at Semilla, plans on tailoring this living art according to holidays. "I want to maybe put pumpkins on the walls for Halloween, and poinsettias for Christmas."
What's also unique about the space is the kitchen and bar areas, which essentially take over the entire room. The cooking area is set up as an island inside the gigantic U-shaped bar, inviting patrons to watch chef Joulin in action as he prepares dinner.
Joulin hopes that the large bar area and open kitchen will prompt people to start a dialogue about the food -- leading to friendships. "Our goal is for people to see what's going on behind the line. Maybe someone will spot something I'm preparing or someone else is eating and say, 'I want that'. I want to create an atmosphere where people come in for a drink, a small plate. Maybe you'll start talking to the person next to you, order something else, stay for a while. Let's see."
Joulin was most recently the executive chef at Villa Mayfair in Coconut Grove. Prior to that, Joulin owned Cafe Des Arts in Miami Beach. It was his first restaurant after arriving in Miami after working at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and Las Vegas. He said that Villa Mayfair was an opportunity to work in a large, multi-million dollar kitchen and make a name for himself in Miami, but that he really wanted his own place back on the beach.
The menu is not yet finalized, but expect ceviches, international tapas, pot stickers, tiradito, salads, charcuterie, and rillettes made from ingredients as locally sourced as possible. "At least 80 percent of my produce and seafood will come from Florida. This is very important. My fishermen know me, so if they have no hog snapper, they'll give me what's the best catch of the day. I'll change my menu daily based on what's the freshest I can get."
Joulin is also pricing the menu to reflect the middle-income neighborhood he's located in. "For me, if you want to go to some other restaurants in Miami Beach, they're good. But very expensive. Some people can go twice a week and spend $200 at a restaurant. Most of us can't. I want to prepare beautiful food for people in this neighborhood. Local people."
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Of course you can't have a gastropub without beer. Semilla will start with local beers on tap, and 14 bottled craft beers from the U.S., Germany, and Belgium. A full bar will offer specialty cocktails like the Beet-nick, made with beet-infused Tito's vodka, and the wine selection will be eclectic, featuring organic varietals and wine from small vineyards that "respect the grape and vine."
Semilla opens nightly for dinner, starting tonight, October 11. The restaurant is open Sunday - Thursday from 6 - 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6 - midnight.