Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth are returning to Miami to open Sarsaparilla Club in the Shelborne Wyndham Grand Hotel in Miami Beach.
The restaurant, located in the former Morimoto space, is slated to open in early 2016.
McInnis and Booth are partners in New York City's Root & Bone, which serves "Manhattan's best new fried chicken," according to Eater New York. Unfortunately, that sweet-tea-brined bird won't be flying south for the winter, according to Booth, who says, "That lemon-dusted chicken is definitely a Root & Bone dish."
Instead, the duo plans to serve "American dim sum." What, exactly is American dim sum?
McInnis quips, "We're not ready to release any of the dishes, but feel free to speculate." Taking a serious turn, the former Top Chef contestant and James Beard finalist confides, "We're excited to come back to Miami and do something unique."
When pressed, the couple gave some more clues as to what might be offered at Sarsaparilla Club.
McInnis says at Root & Bone, he was given the chance to showcase his Southern background. At this new endeavor, it's Booth, a native of Australia with a lot of time spent in Southeast Asia, who will take the lead. The fellow Top Chef alum explains, "Jeff taught me the way of the world when it comes to Southern food. Now we'll tap into my past. Australia is multicultural, so we'll bring some worldly flavors to the table."
Though located inside one of South Beach's sleek resorts, the restaurant is a family affair. "Janine is supertalented with design, and my brother Johnny and his wife Natalia are going to be helping. They just had a baby, and she's adorable." McInnis says. Miami.com broke the story.
In fact, McInnis and Booth were just as happy to chat about their lives as to talk about the new restaurant.
A little more than a year since the opening of their Alphabet City restaurant, McInnis and Booth are finally feeling like they belong in the Big Apple. Booth was recently named one of Zagat's 30 Under 30. "New York has been great for both of us," she says. "The day we opened Root & Bone, we had amazing love from both the press and locals. We've been blessed."
McInnis also wanted to take time to gush about the new 1,000-square-foot test kitchen they're installing right above Root & Bone. This is a luxury for the two chefs, who previously tried new recipes from their Manhattan restaurant's small kitchen. "We just built this cool commercial kitchen above the restaurant. We're still working on tile, but we have a commercial stove and oven and giant freezer. It's like our own little science lab. We're testing items for Sarsaparilla and Root & Bone, and it's made cooking and our lives so much easier. We can just run downstairs to the restaurant and borrow a cup of sugar while we work."
The couple, who met while working together at Gigi and again at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, are looking forward to spending time back in Miami but have no plans to leave New York. Instead, the pair will travel, both together and alternately. McInnis says, "It's an easy commute. So many chefs already do it. There's a reason why American Airlines alone has 17 flights from New York to Miami daily.
"I'm popping down tomorrow for just 24 hours," he says. "We're already splitting our time."
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.