Ever since arriving in Montreal in the late sixties, Costas Spiliadis yearned to bring the rich cooking traditions of his native Greece to North America. Indeed, those days were the Dark Ages for Greek food in Canada and the USA, rendering a proud cuisine represented only in diners and a few tavernas offering home style cooking to abatement.
Greek style seafood, Mediterranean fish such as sea bream, sweet shrimp or red mullet, were nowhere to be found on North American menus until Spiliadis opened his first Milos in Montreal in the eighties.
Now, the concept stretches to Athens, New York, Las Vegas and his newest restaurant in South Beach, Miami. I’ve been a vocal supporter of Milos in Las Vegas, particularly with regard to the remarkable three-course lunch for $20.12.
But Spiliadis continues to expand. The new Miami restaurant is amazing, from the Marketa of olive oils, Greek jams and other imported products, to the charcoal grill on which his fish, unpacked and hand picked by his team of chefs, is cooked.
Milos Miami is 12,000 sq. feet of pure culinary indulgence, from a Jeffrey Beers designed dining room to a kitchen equipped with an adjacent fish market and double barreled charcoal grill that eschews a gas flame in order to impart the rustic flavors of the Greek Islands.
The space, a former produce warehouse, is in a rapidly gentrifying area at the bottom of Soutn Beach. Spiliadis gutted it, adding beam ceilings, Greek fisherman’s lanterns, and dramatic design elements. In fact, when I gave my taxi driver the address, 730 1st St., he told me I’d made a mistake. “There’s nothing on that block”, he insisted.
But when we pulled up, and he saw the renovation, he gasped in surprise, and said, “you win.” Walking in, I was greeted by a tasting table stocked with Haloumi cheese and an open bottle of Agiorgitiko, a red wine varietal from Greece, a fruity, well-balanced wine that embodies a new generation of Greek winemakers.
Inside, Spiliadis was in high dudgeon, wringing his hands, anxiously awaiting fresh fish from the Aegean that his chef-in-residence there, a man named Pericles, hand selects from local fishermen. The only thing missing were the worry beads.
But at long last, the fish arrived. Spiliadis personally split the boxes open, and inspected his imports, then handed me some anchovies and sweet shrimp for tasting. There wasn’t the slightest hint of fishiness. Yes, these were incredible products I couldn’t wait to eat. Dinner was to come soon.
I sat down with Spiliadis and the fresh fish began to arrive. First, there was avgotarako, Greek caviar, if you will, roe from the gray mullet, and a bottle of a white varietal I’d never tasted, Sideritis ’2011 from Patras’ winery Parparoussis, “The Gift of Dionysus”, like a Spanish Albarino.
Then, amazing raw salmon followed by pan-fried jacket fish, melanouri, a small sea bream, and wonderful sweet shrimp, perfectly fried.
The main course was kakavia, a Greek bouillabaisse using rascasse, a Mediterranean scorpion fish, and monkfish. The fish is boiled alongside onions and potatoes, and a rich, strained, ochre colored broth served. I couldn’t get enough of the broth, but left room for the fish, anyway.
Our simple dessert consisted of thick, creamy Greek yogurt, shelled walnuts and thyme honey. A Greek Viognier from Gerovassiliou helped it all down.
Estiatorio Milos South Beach is more than just another notch in Spiliadis’ belt; it’s clearly a destination restaurant. Meanwhile, you can eat most of the Miami menu in Vegas (Russ and Daughters smoked fish from New York’s Lower East Side being an exception), but you may not find a Cuban synagogue anywhere on the Strip.
At 730 1st St., Miami Beach. Dinner only.
Unicahome.com was founded in 1998 by Hugh and Bonnie Fogel. Featuring over 65,000 products, Unicahome.com is a complete lifestyle store for home, office and contract use featuring Bridal Registry, Furniture, Lighting, Accessories, Barware, Food and Great Gifts from noted designers and top brands sourced worldwide. Our 18,000 square foot store is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, just minutes away from the world famous Las Vegas Strip. We hope you enjoyed your visit to Unicaworld!