Nearly six months after Jeremy Ford announced his departure from Matador Room, the Top Chef winner returns to Miami Beach this week with the opening of his first restaurant, Stubborn Seed, in the South of Fifth neighborhood.
The name is a nod to the persistence required to open a restaurant, Ford told New Times this past July. "The name means a lot to us," Ford said. "It's our stubborn approach to what we do and what we purchase."
The concept, created through a partnership between Ford and Grove Bay Hospitality Group, uses locally sourced ingredients to build a rotating selection of colorful plates, rich in both taste and design. The restaurant's intimate dining area, which seats just more than 70 customers, forgoes white tablecloths for a warm and relaxed atmosphere.
Ford and his team, which includes longtime friend, chef Joe Mizzoni, take inspiration from Asia, Europe, and Miami's own melting pot of cultures to create a diverse menu of raw items, meat, fish, and other small plates. Items can be ordered à la carte or included in a chef’s tasting of six courses curated by Ford ($80).
For first-time guests, Ford suggests an order of the warm celery root with crackling maitake and creamy mustard.
Additional menu highlights ($5 to $28) are Jojo Tea-cured snapper with sorrel, celery, clementine, and hearts of palm; a five-second wahoo crudo with a spicy buttermilk dressing; herb-roasted Wagyu accentuated with mushroom, carrot, and mustard butter; and slow-cooked snapper with poblano peppers, cucumber, and lime littleneck clams.
Desserts include croustillant, a creamy chocolate layer cake; snickerdoodle cookies with gooey chocolate centers; and stout cake served with ginger ice cream.
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Stubborn Seed's bar program serves equally creative concoctions. The Follow the Light uses a web of candied sugar as a garnish, and the Half Baked oozes smoke from a beaker-like glass.
This concept is the first of two restaurants in the Ford/Grove Bay partnership. The company's forthcoming multirestaurant and retail project, the Harbour in Coconut Grove, will include a waterfront space for Ford's other restaurant, Afishionado.
"At Stubborn Seed, people will have the opportunity to connect with Jeremy on a level they haven’t been able to before," Grove Bay cofounder and co-CEO Francesco Balli told New Times. "This concept will offer guests a truly unique experience, with a special tasting menu that will take diners on a journey, with Jeremy as their guide.”
Stubborn Seed. 101 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 786-322-5211; stubbornseed.com. Open for dinner 6 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Monday.