Coconut Grove is Miami's brunch pioneer. Before every restaurant in Miami made it de rigueur to host brunch, Grovites had been enjoying mimosas and omelets at GreenStreet Café for more than two decades.
Now the Grove restaurant Spasso is stepping up its brunch game with the help of celebrity chef Amaris Jones. The Italian eatery, next door to Ariete, recently launched a soul-food-inspired Sunday brunch series for which Jones curates a menu of Southern and Afro-Caribbean items each week.
Jones, the chef who helped Rick Ross shed more than 80 pounds, closed her wildly popular restaurant South Street in 2013. Located in the Design District, it was frequented by celebrities such as Martha Stewart, Lenny Kravitz, and LeBron James. Since then, she's popped up across town to whip up her fried chicken and creamy grits at restaurants such as the Forge, Soho Beach House, and the Delano, as well as at events like Art Basel and BET's Leading Women Defined Conference.
At Spasso, find a buffet stocked with Jones' famous free-range fried chicken, fried catfish, grits, and jerk chicken, along with pasta, omelets, creole shrimp, and spiced skirt steak. There are also bottomless bellinis for $15 and live jazz and R&B performances through the afternoon.
"The area craves comfort food made with local and organic ingredients at an affordable price," she says. "There isn't really a Southern-style restaurant nearby, so I'm trying to bring back the look and feel of South Street."
Adding African touches to Southern staples, Jones has created a brunch menu filled with modern interpretations of soulful Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean cooking.
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"Think of it as shredded chicken layered on a Venezuelan arepa," she says. "It basically covers all bases of Miami cuisine."
In addition to the buffet, there is also a selection of à la carte dishes ($12), including Jones' fried chicken 'n' waffles. Plates, as well as buffet offerings, rotate each week, giving patrons a reason to dine here more than once.
Jones' brunch pop-up, priced at $35 per person from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday, is expected to last through the end of the summer. For more information, call 305-441-0219.