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Villa Mayfair: Luxury Dining in Coconut Grove

A New Restaurant is a Big Step in Bringing Coconut Grove Back to Glory
April 10, 2012 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Food & Restaurant News  | 2 Comments

Chef Frederic Joulin’s truffle artichoke soup

Destination Dining has returned to Coconut Grove.

The mass exodus from Miami’s former nightlife hub has left Grove diners with few options past chains and bar food. But the new Villa Mayfair has brought a top notch gourmet restaurant back to the neighborhood, allowing locals an opportunity for opulence without having to cross the bay.

Start With a Presidential Chef

The first step Villa Mayfair took in bringing top-tier cuisine to the Grove was acquiring the services of Michelin-2 starred chef Frederic Joulin – a former personal chef to the president of France. Joulin has created a menu that fits the Mediterranean Villa-themed décor of the restaurant.

It is heavy on seafood, the most notable options being the Florida grouper in lemon caper butter and the sea bass topped with pancetta. But still maintains a light-fare feel with its meat offerings. The bone-in 12 oz. filet is served with a shallot and rosemary, leaving it light if you avoid the béarnaise sauce.

Even the menu’s mainstay soup stays light. The truffle artichoke soup has the rich flavor of the truffles without weighing you down, leaving plenty of room for the main course.

Nick Nistico, brewing a wild concoction

Meet Miami’s Best Restaurant Worker

The first impression one gets of Villa Mayfair is also its most notable. Immediately inside behind the hostess stand is the hammered brass bar. And behind it stands bar manager Nick Nistico. Nistico’s bar is lined with beakers full of fresh ingredients he uses in his creations. And when he mixes some of them with dry ice, the bar looks more like a mad scientist’s lab than an upscale cocktail lounge.

Much like Joulin does with the food,  Nistico incorporates fresh local ingredients into all his drinks. And even goes so far as to get creative with ice. The 2 inch cube that centers the Victoria’s Secret can go an entire meal without melting. And the pebble ice in the Country Charm allows the alcohol and spices to seep through it before getting to your straw.

Nistico is a perfectionist in his creations, refusing to use anything other than fresh squeezed juice and homemade grenadine. As General Manager Cristina Ventura said, “Nick would make his own soda if he could. As it is we still have to use it out of bottles.”

He can also recommend with precision what each member of your party should order based on the type of drink they like. As well as pair a wine that fits perfectly.

Reminding us of the Grove’s Glorious Past

But Villa Mayfair is much more than just creative cuisine and meticulous cocktails. By combining décor from the designer of SET and the Forge with a renowned chef and a perfectionist mixologist, Villa Mayfair has created the sort of destination restaurant the Grove has lacked since its 1990s heyday.

Not coincidentally, it is in the same location formerly occupied by Brasserie LeCoze, a favorite hangout for celebrities, drug dealers, and anyone else who had cash to burn in Miami in the 1990s.

The dining room inside Villa Mayfair

“We’ve had people email us saying ‘I used to go to Brasserie LeCoze in the 90s, and it’s like you captured it’s spirit and brought it back,” says Ventura, referring to the landmark Grove restaurant.

“After the exodus from the Grove the last few years, there hasn’t been an upscale destination,” she continued. “So we’ve decided to use our location to our advantage. We want Villa Mayfair to be viewed as a destination restaurant.”

“We’ve had our best response from people in South Beach, wanting to eat somewhere different.”

Villa Mayfair NOT in The Mayfair

Ventura knows the location, on Florida Avenue on the west side of the Mayfair Center, can be confusing for some. Though Villa Mayfair shares part of its name with the famous Mayfair Hotel, it is not at all affiliated. Nor is it in the hotel. An important thing to remember when planning a night out there.

And despite the impressive food and cocktail collection, Villa Mayfair is affordable when looking at high end restaurants. Two people can eat three courses and drinks for under $250, which is a significant amount less than you’d pay for comparable or inferior cuisine in South Beach.

So if you think the Grove is dead, think again. The return of a restaurant like Villa Mayfair may be just what the area needs to bring back locals and visitors alike.

Related Categories: Miami: Food & Restaurant News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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2 Comments on

"Villa Mayfair: Luxury Dining in Coconut Grove"

Blackford Oakes says:

Got it marked down on my Miami bucket list. It actually jumped straight up to the top as that list is vacant. LOL !

Thanks for the FYI. That articoke soup is drawing me in.

Matt- You ever had a fried artichoke driving through CA’s AG Belt ?

Posted on 04/12/2012 at 3:40 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

I have not, Blackford. Honestly I’m not an artichoke fan AT ALL, and would not have ordered the soup if not strongly advised to do so. But it was really good. And getting me to like anything with an artichoke is hard.

Posted on 04/13/2012 at 12:19 PM

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