Chef Carlos Garcia, known in Caracas, Venezuela for his fine-dining restaurant Alto, has unveiled his first U.S. concept in the former Aijo.
This venture is upscale casual, though, with contemporary Latin American cuisine. Its shiny pastel aqua wall tiles and trellis-like white ceiling mirror the exterior colors of the Jade at Brickell Bay building, which overlooks dancing fountains and Biscayne Bay. Patrons are encouraged to perch at the white oblong counter surrounding the central open kitchen.
“The first thing I learned from Ferran Adria at El Bulli is that food is more than a simple act of eating,” says Garcia, who gained experience from acclaimed restaurants in Spain. “It is a moment to share with your loved ones.”
Most dishes are cooked on the Josper — a hybrid charcoal oven grill — such as the bone marrow scraped into chickpea stew ($30) and lamb with plantain mole (half rack, $32; full rack, $49). Other highlights include mini stuffed arepas ($12), sea urchin atop a fried egg ($14) and octopus bucatini carbonara ($21).
Chocolate flan is layered with a brownie, coffee mousse and white chocolate crunchy crumbles.
Cocktails ($12-$13), such as the aromatic Criollo with rum, cold brew, cacao, passion fruit and coffee beans, are in the works.
Dinner is served nightly except Sundays. Weekday lunch includes a four-course prix fixe ($21).