Semilla French Bistro & Wine Bar
If you can’t get to France this year—which, admittedly, would be a shame—at least you can eat as though you have. After six successful years of locally inspired twists on French cuisine, executive chef and owner Frederic Joulin—who was born in Paris and holds an extensive pedigree that includes helming the kitchen for French President Jacques Chirac and the Three-Michelin-star Guy Savoy—has changed it up a bit in response to his loyal customers’ request: “More Frenchness, please.” (We paraphrase, of course.) In response, Joulin’s reimagined bistro and wine bar concept has metamorphosed from Semilla to Semilla French Bistro & Wine Bar, where Plat du Jour classics rotate throughout the week at both lunch and dinner. Happy Apero Hour is offered daily 4 to 8 pm, with wine and light bites for $5, $6, $7 and $8, while new menu standouts include Oignon Soup au Gratin, traditional baked French onion soup with Gruyère; classic Steak Au Poivre flamed with cognac and prepared tableside; and Escargots au beurre d’ail Persille, snails sautéed in parsley and garlic butter served over bone marrow. For a true ooh-la-la effect, experience the Steak Tartare, and the Foie Gras Terrine, which are best-sellers. But whatever you do, experience Semilla—tout de suite.
1330 Alton Road, Miami Beach, 305.674.6522; semillamiami.com
Isabelle’s Grill Room & Garden
Coconut Grove’s chic new restaurant Isabelle’s Grill Room & Garden has recently launched an à la carte Sunday brunch. Yes, they offer the add-on option of Bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas (along with the lively Mad Jazz Duo), but to stand out in Miami—a city where you can’t swing a fork without hitting a new brunch menu—Isabelle’s appears to have made sure they upped the game. There’s a full raw bar of fresh oysters, shrimp, ceviche and more, but the starters and salads all feature a little something special: Roasted Beets with Greek yogurt, apples, oranges and pickled mustard seeds; Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with celeriac, Romanesco, apple remoulade and upland cress; Beef Carpaccio with crispy mushrooms, arugula, pecorino and fresh horseradish; and Burrata with heirloom tomatoes and grilled ciabatta with extra virgin olive oil top the list. Among the signature dishes worth highlighting: Chicken and Waffles with buttermilk fried chicken, Belgian waffles, and jalapeño honey; Challah French Toast with Nutella and bananas; classic Eggs Benedict; Lobster Roll with celery and mayo on a brioche bun; a Tuna Poke Bowl with cucumber, avocado, pickled jalapeño, spicy citrus shoyu, sprouts, brown rice, candied radish and crispy shallots; and Steak Frites, a 10 oz. skirt steak with upland cress, chimichurri and fries. All that, plus a gorgeous indoor-outdoor setting within which to enjoy it. Take it from us: Plan your next Sunday brunch outing in the Grove.
In the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, 3300 SW 27th Ave., Miami, 305.644.4680; isabellescoconutgrove.com
Still going strong two years after its opening in South Beach—practically a lifetime in Miami restaurant years—Upland Miami, the California-inspired South of Fifth hotspot, continues to draw crowds. But that doesn’t mean they’re getting complacent. The resto has given both its brunch and dinner menus a refresh of late, offering guests even more of a reason to look forward to visiting. Available daily during dinner service, Chef Justin Smillie’s new dishes combine the refreshing flavors Upland has become known for, including hints of stracciatella in the Green Zebra Pizza and giardiniera in the Big Eye Tuna Crudo. Additions to the weekend brunch menu include highlights like the Spanish Frittata and Quiche Lorraine, as well as “The Larry David” bagel in an homage to Upland’s New York outpost. Bottomless brunch is available for $26 per person and features new items such as Yogurt & Granola, Israeli yogurt, pine nut granola and fruit; Nova Lox, comprising a bagel, tomatoes, red onions and cream cheese; and Steak & Eggs prepared with black garlic, romesco, fried eggs and bunching onion. New to the dinner menu are Green Zebra Pizza, which brings together fromage blanc, stracciatella, herbs and garlic oil; Big Eye Tuna Crudo made with giardiniera, pickled garlic and labneh, and Artichoke Spread with pickled carrots, labneh and fontina. The atmosphere is as lively as the flavors, so if this place isn’t already on your short list, get it on there now.
49 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305.602.9998; uplandmiami.com