For months we've been watching a mystery restaurant on Florida Avenue in Coconut Grove. The butcher paper on the window gave no indication of what was to be -- restaurant or club? Locally owned or another Cheesecake Factory?
Yesterday, the paper was gone from the windows and, as if by magic, the space was transformed with tables, chairs, sofas and whimsical ceramic animal trophies on the wall.
Villa Mayfair, with its gold and white tables, DJ station and lounges, looks like it was dropped from South Beach into the vine-covered street in Coconut Grove. Timo Kipp, who purchased the entire Mayfair in the Grove complex in 2010, is the owner of Villa Mayfair and it's clear he's put money behind the restaurant, as evidenced by both the opulent decor and the brand new extra-large kitchen that will staff a team of more than a dozen.
Frederic Joulin was tapped as executive chef. Joulin worked under Guy Savoy, who earned three Michelin Stars for his Paris restaurant and two Michelin Stars for his Las Vegas outpost. Joulin opened his own restaurant in Paris, Le Clos St Honore, at the age of 25.
Chef Joulin walked us around the dining room and kitchen, clearly excited to be in Miami. He told us that the menu will be Mediterranean inspired, with a mix of Spanish, French, and Italian influences. "Not Greek. Why do people think Mediterranean is always Greek here?" he asked.
The menu will focus on seafood like cod, grouper, and turbot. Carnivores will be able to choose New Zealand rack of lamb, Filet Mignon, chicken, and duck.
He showed us a window in the center of the room. "This is where we're putting in a seafood raw bar", he exclaimed like a kid in a candy store. "We're going to bring in fresh oysters, mussels and periwinkle."
He then walked us into the enormous state-of-the art kitchen, where he showed us everything from the dozen or so burners to brand new seals on the cold cases.
With a large European community making Miami its home, Villa Mayfair may be just what Coconut Grove needs to keep its revival in full swing. Villa Mayfair plans to open in early December. Villa Mayfair, 2901 Florida Avenue, Coconut Grove