Famed Venezuelan Chef Carlos Garcia to Debut U.S. Concept in Miami
Set to open on May 24, one of Venezuela’s most recognized chefs, Carlos Garcia, will debut his highly anticipated first stateside concept, Obra Kitchen Table, in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, located on the ground level of the Jade at Brickell building. The restaurant’s unique concept and design will encourage interaction between chef, his culinary team and guests, creating an atmosphere where diners feel as if they are eating in the comfort of their own kitchen. At Obra Kitchen Table, the most special place to be seated will be at the open-kitchen’s wrap-around counter, which seats 25. Here, customers will be able to connect with the dishes, the cooking process and each other while casually dining on Garcia’s award-winning Latin American cuisine with international influences. The 3,015-square-foot restaurant will be a bustling spot for friends, family, co-workers and couples to gather for varied and quick lunches, late-afternoon snacks and relaxed dinners where great food and drinks will be served at fair prices.
After training at several of the most renowned restaurants in Spain, including El Bulli, El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz, Garcia returned to his hometown of Caracas where he quickly garnered a stellar reputation, opening his first restaurant, Alto, in 2007. Garcia’s innovative and contemporary take on Venezuelan cuisine earned Alto a coveted spot on “Latin America’s 50 Best” list in 2013, which had premiered its Latin American Chapter that same year, and was heralded as the “Best Restaurant in Venezuela” for four consecutive years. While Alto continues to flourish in Caracas and is Garcia’s flagship restaurant, he was motivated by the inherent challenge of opening a restaurant in Miami. “At Obra Kitchen Table I plan to bring the warmth of Latin America flavors, what I call “cocina sabrosa,” which means delicious, enjoyable food prepared with recognizable, seasonal and local ingredients, presented in the most unpretentious and creative ways,” says Garcia, who plans to split his time between both kitchens.
Obra Kitchen Table will center its kitchen around a Josper Charcoal Oven Grill that will be used to cook a large portion of the menu. Begin the meal with starters like Raw Vegetables Tartare ($7) with pumpkin cream and lemongrass; Roasted Clams ($11) with corn court-bouillon and pico de gallo; Snapper Tiradito ($17) with pineapple rum and mashed ripe banana and fried kale; and Scallops "Reina Pepiada” ($12), one of many Venezuelan-inspired specialties on the menu. Continue down the menu with pasta and rice selections like Spaghetti with Octopus Carbonara ($21); Black Fideua with Mussels ($22); and Grilled Rice with Squid and Artichokes ($18). Entrees will range from seafood selections like Roasted Tuna ($28) with brown butter yuca and garlic purée and Fried Red Snapper ($32) with roasted cabbage and “salsa verde” to traditional slow cooked meats like Short Rib Asado Negro ($34) and Pork Pernil ($26) prepared Venezuelan-style and finished in the Josper for additional flavor. Finish the meal with desserts including Tierra de Cacao ($12), incorporating Garcia’s obsession for cacao, a source of national pride for Venezuelans; Tarte Tatin ($8) with ripe banana and coffee and sarrapia ice cream; and Mango Bajito ($8).
For lunch, guests will be offered a condensed a la carte menu or their choice of a $21 Prix Fixe; the latter will begin with a cup of Garcia’s signature “Barriga Llena” chicken soup and a choice of a protein, two sides and a dessert. For each prix fixe menu sold, $1 will be donated to Garcia’s foundation, Barriga Llena Corazón Contento, an initiative that he founded in July 2016 to feed soup, one of the most nutritious and comforting foods that exists, to the hungry children of Hospital J.M. De Los Ríos in Caracas, as well as for the nurses, doctors and family members of these children.
The celebration of Latin American flavors will continue to flow with Obra’s beverage program. Guests will imbibe on signature cocktails like the Mexican-inspired Non-Traditional Negroni ($13) made with Ilegal Mezcal, Carpano Antica, Campari, and carrot and blood orange juice; the Peruvian and Colombian-inspired Zur Sour ($12) made with Pisco, citrus, tree tomato, lulo, egg white and turmeric; the Brazilian-inspired Menina ($12) with blended cachaca, acai, lime juice, agave and basil topped with coconut shavings; and of course, representing Venezuela and one of the most significant drinks of the house, the Criollo ($12) made with Santa Teresa 1796 Rum, cold brew coffee with cacao, passion fruit puree, agave and topped with ground dark cacao. A curated selection of wine and beer will also be offered.
Obra’s fresh, clean and contemporary space was designed by well-known architect and interior designer Alejandro Barrios Carrero. His previous projects include Juvia, for which he won a James Beard Award for “Outstanding Restaurant Design” in 2013, and Sushi Garage in Miami, as well as Garcia’s own Alto in Caracas. Guests will walk in to a total open-kitchen experience with aqua green subway tiles lining the walls in the same color as the windows of the Jade building, a white bar counter top that acts as a clean back drop to the vibrant food and drinks, and white oak plank floors that brings warmth to the equation. The ceiling is accentuated with wood strips painted in white that are inspired by the Perez Art Museum’s ceiling, creating a sculptural “moving” visual effect. “I wanted to create an atmosphere where you feel Miami and at the same time connect with Latin America through its flavors, smells and a collection of large format black and white portraits of people that could be found in any corner of any small town in any country of Central and South America. These characters have a warm, cheerful and contagious smile that contrasts with the clean, crisp and contemporary finishes of this open-kitchen restaurant,” says Barrios.