Power Lunch: Seasalt And Pepper Offers 'South Of France' Feel
There are behind-the-scenes battles going on between the owners, investors and former management at Seasalt and Pepper, but you'd never know it when visiting the Miami waterfront restaurant.
Since opening in December, Seasalt and Pepper has become the darling of models like Adriana Lima, celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z, LeBron James and the rest of the Miami Heat, foodies and Miami's elite, who have begun flocking there for power lunches.
On the Miami River, Seasalt and Pepper was opened by Carlos Miranda and Stephane Dupoux. Miranda owned restaurants in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and has spent the last two decades running a Miami art gallery, In Gallery, and scouting for a new restaurant venture. Dupoux is best known for opening Nikki Beach Club on South Beach and also opened hotels and design firms in New York and Miami.
The two friends had a recent falling out and litigation has flown back and forth. Miranda is, for now, the winner, and is running the restaurant with his wife, Maryam, while Dupoux has been banned from the place.
The restaurateurs hoped to spark a redevelopment of sorts on the river. Some other seafood restaurants, including Garcia's and Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill, are on the water. But Miranda has big plans. He wants to open an adjacent fresh fish market, the Miami River Yacht Club with a hotel and a Manhattan-style restaurant called the 55th.
About $5 million was spent on the renovation and design of Seasalt and Pepper, and it shows. Reportedly an airplane hangar once owned by Howard Hughes, the place still looks like an nondescript warehouse from the outside.
Inside, the feel is industrial chic—airy and modern with high ceilings, tile floors, rattan chairs and nautical blue-and-white sailcloth drapes. Nearly half of the 250 seats are outside with a spectacular view of the river and its eclectic boat traffic.
Inside, diners can admire the artwork, including a $75,000 commissioned sculpture hanging from the ceiling featuring all things that might have floated down the river, including oars, Tequesta Indian masks, arrows, skulls and Cuban coffee pots.
Seafood casseroles and pizzas are cooked in 900-degree wood-burning ovens, while the wraparound bar features a sleek copper top and floating lights. The private lounge area with cushioned couches is a favorite hangout area for Heat players.
Aside from the ambiance, the food—namely the seafood—is what draws crowds.
On a recent visit with several friends, I sampled some of the best food I have ever eaten.
We started with appetizers. The roasted vidalia onion ($17) swimming in a creamy red sauce of shrimp, cognac and gratinee is unique to the restaurant. No sooner did I say it was one of the best things I've ever tasted than the waiter brought a "Meli Melo of Tartar" ($29), a tower of raw seafood including tuna, salmon, scallops and watercress in a soya pesto marinade. The fish was so fresh and tasty it seemed it had just been caught and placed on my plate.
The waiter then brought what turned out to be the most decadent and mouth-watering pasta dish I've ever eaten—Seasalt ravioli stuffed with pear and gorgonzola cheese with black truffle sauce ($22). Needless to say, this dish is not recommended if you're dieting.
As if that wasn't enough, the chef served an entire branzino (Mediterranean seabass) tableside. The $40 fish of the day is served Mediterranean style, with olive oil and lemon.
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