First Bites

Silverlake Serves Bistro Classics With an International Twist in Normandy Isles

Silverlake Serves Bistro Classics With an International Twist in Normandy Isles
Photo by Sandy Sanchez
With plenty of restaurants already in Miami Beach and nearby North Bay Village, residents might not have expected the arrival of Silverlake Bistro.

But Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat, the couple behind La Fresa Francesa Petit Café in Hialeah, believed the Normandy Isles neighborhood lacked a bistro. So they opened Silverlake last September, a charming restaurant inspired by California's culinary philosophies, with cooking influenced by international cuisines like Rablat's native France.

A 30-seat eatery, Silverlake offers an inventive mix of French and American food with the occasional foray into Latin cuisine, always a back and forth between Sanchez and Rablat. The couple — romantic and business partners — met in 2013 when they were both waiting tables at the Michelin-starred Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. On their days off, they liked to go to bistros for leisurely meals, or put together their own to serve to friends. “It's the familiar, straightforward comfort food that we always loved that we wanted to bring to this neighborhood,” Sanchez said.

The restaurant features about 1,000 square feet of dining area that exudes a chill California '70s vibe. The cozy decor is inspired by the Silverlake neighborhood in Los Angeles, where Sanchez lived when she and Rablat met. A collection of whimsical dishes replaces the usual chunky white bistro ware, and wallpaper depicting woodland animals like deer and snakes forms a backdrop for oversized antique mirrors. Candles burn on every table and memorabilia occupy shelves in the center of the dining room, giving the eatery a feeling of intimacy.

The menu features starters like ricotta honey citrus salad with watercress, grapefruits, oranges, hazelnuts, and pistachios ($10); lamb loin tartare with olive and artichoke tapenade, served with a baguette ($15); and duck fat seared gnocchi mac and cheese with smoked Gouda cheese sauce, pork belly, and bread crumbs ($14).
click to enlarge Silverlake Burger - PHOTO BY SANDY SANCHEZ
Silverlake Burger
Photo by Sandy Sanchez
Main course highlights include a roasted half chicken with beer brine, fingerling potatoes, and sorrel yogurt chili oil ($24); Le Puy lentils with roasted cauliflower, labneh, and fried egg ($15);  and lamb shank with Napa Cabernet-braised cranberry beans, poblano peppers, and harissa ($28).

For dessert, there's a butterscotch pot de creme, with Maldon salt and mascarpone ($8); cheesecake parfait with sautéed kumquats, nectarines, and vanilla wafers ($9); and pecan mocha bread pudding ($10). The fun-food offering is the hot fudge sundae with peanuts and vanilla ice cream ($10).

On the happy hour menu, served Wednesday to Friday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., guests find the Silverlake burger ($12), croquettes ($6), and mussels with saffron, tomato, olives, and white wine ($15). Other happy hour offerings include meatballs with San Marzano tomato sauce ($8) and a cheese and charcuterie plate ($16). Drink specials include white and red wines ($7), bubbles ($6), or beer ($5).

Sanchez said Silverlake's opening got people talking and the eatery has garnered a steady clientele. "I think that most of all, people stuck by us because there's a lot of integrity in the food that we make."

Silverlake Bistro. 1211 71st St., Miami Beach; 786-803-8113. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.
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Juliana Accioly
Contact: Juliana Accioly