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Photo by Nath R. Photography

Semilla

Semilla, the Spanish word for "seed," serves romantic small plates in South Beach. A large metal horseshoe bar, showcasing an open kitchen with chefs wearing checkered fedoras while working the teppanyaki station, stands at the center. Classically trained French chef Frederic Joulin takes a departure from the traditional with pot stickers ($12) that come in playful variations such as Buffalo chicken, braised beef short rib, barbecued ribs, and organic tofu with vegetables. The standout dish is the octopus ($18). Its meat is charred on a wood-fired grill, sliced, and served on a bed of fennel, radish, and frisée with citrus dressing. The freshness of this dish is rivaled only by the wall of potted herbs used to top off most plates. To end your meal, try the ice-cream minisliders ($4). The sesame-seed-studded macaron is the "bun," a mango and passionfruit gelée makes up the orange "cheese" layer, and chocolate-encased ice cream plays the part of the patty.

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