Picture provided by Ashlie Rolfe, VANESSA MENKES COMMUNICATIONS
Heralding a new dining experience on the Miami River, Kiki on the River, Miami’s highly-anticipated indoor/outdoor new dining destination, will officially open its doors for lunch April 10th. Romantic and contemporary, the riverside restaurant embraces the hospitality and spirit of the Greek islands with the service and style of a romantic island garden restaurant & lounge. Kiki is a passion project by nightlife pro Roman Jones, former Philippe Chow Miami managing partner, Aris Nanos, hospitality executive Lee Lyon and envisioned by Creative Director, Ghosthouse Creative Group’s Mark Lehmkuhl who conceptualized the one-of-a-kind design and interior architecture with Jay Wall of Thirlwall Design.
Serving lunch and dinner daily, and a lively weekend brunch, Kiki will offer a selection of time-honored Greek favorites and innovative dishes, all made from scratch in-house. For this restaurant, Jones wants to honor the life of the Miami River, with that sense of meticulously-scuffed elegance that only a windswept island can provide. “We want our guests to experience the light simplicity you find in modern Greece, while honoring the legacy of the Miami River” said Jones. Being directly on the waterfront adds to the laid-back elegance of the restaurant. “We occupy an enviable spot on the water. It’s at the knuckle of the river, so you can see clear up and down both ways.”
The kitchen at Kiki will be helmed by Executive Chef Steve Rhee, an industry veteran who opened Estiatorio Milos in Miami Beach in addition to three years serving as sous chef at Estiatorio Milos in Las Vegas. The General Manager is Spiros Assimakopoulos is also an Estiatorio Milos alum. “Chef Rhee has the perfect blend of skills for this project,” Jones offers. “He loves simple, rustic cuisine but has incredible technical skills and a real knack for elevating dishes with technique and by using amazing, fresh product. These elements combined, made him a natural to execute Kiki’s menu.”
Rhee’s creative, yet approachable, dishes reflect the bounty of seafood that comes from the Mediterranean as well as an array of meats prepared simply on the grill. Everything is made in-house and many of the fresh ingredients come directly from Greece, including the spices, herbs and olive oil. Plates stay true to their ingredients, allowing flavors to shine without heavy sauces and creams.
The journey at Kiki begins with an array of Pikilia (Greek spreads) that include tarama, a carp roe spread, skordalia, a garlic almond spread and Melitzanosalata, a roasted baby eggplant spread.
Mezedes (shared plates) and salads entice with plates of Saganaki made with lightly fried Kefalorgraviera or Halloumi cheese, and the Baby Arugula salad, composed of toasted hazelnuts, sundried tomato and preserved figs. An extensive raw bar will stock an assortment of oysters, caviar, shrimp cocktail, ceviche and a tuna tartar made with Moscato reduction, chives and cara cara orange.
Menu highlights include octopus, gorgeously charred and dressed with capers and olive oil, Lavraki – grilled whole Mediterranean sea bass with fine herbs, lemon and olive oil and simply grilled langoustines and head-on prawns. Rounding out the savory options are lamb chops, a roasted half chicken and a half rack of baby back pork ribs, served with Horta (swiss chard salad), and finished with ladelemono sauce.
Kiki aims to be a power lunch destination, offering a generous $25 prix-fixe set menu of three courses. Starters include a choice of Greek salad, Greek ceviche or a trio of Greek spreads. Then it’s on to the main course with choices of Lavraki (Mediterranean sea bass), salmon, grilled scallops or chicken kabobs. A dessert of Greek yogurt with organic honey or a seasonal fruit platter leaves things on a sweet note. Dinner will be offered nightly as well.
Ensuring liquid refreshment will match up with the food, the team at Kiki has developed a unique list of creative cocktails that blend ouzo with fresh-pressed juices and house made bitters and shrubs.
The design was envisioned by Mark Lehmkuhl and Jay Wall of Thirlwall Design. A place where the Mediterranean meets the Miami River, the experience begins before ever entering the restaurant, where materials that reference an eastern Mediterranean sea side village with a bit of whimsy all come to life in a building that dates back nearly one hundred years. Three distinct areas will have unique elements including: the relaxed outdoor terrace with draping vines and colorful Bougainvillea, a sunset river view and a sophisticated interior dining room with ceiling to floor windows and luxurious drapes wrapped around steel and concrete original beams and columns will offer al fresco seating on the patio. The whitewashed walls of the rustic warehouse interior pay homage the original fish market that served the area for the last several decades, with warm design details throughout. Rich leather chesterfield sofas, vintage lounge chairs, seashell chandeliers and Ikat patterned stools lend to a cozy dining experience.
Positioned on the Miami River, this sophisticated Mediterranean oasis will offer al fresco seating on the patio reminiscent of outdoor Grecian dining, complete with a balmy breeze, the lively atmosphere that seats 200 and features banquettes, rustic wooden tables and lantern lighting, making it the perfect place to linger over great food and conversation.