Hales will open Bird & Bone, focusing on Nashville-style spicy hot chicken and ribs, next spring at the rebranded Confidante Hotel in mid-Miami Beach, the site of Bernstein’s former (and excellent) Seagrape.
Southern food and fried chicken in particular has been riding a wave of popularity, and Hales is giving it a twist with the kind of spicy chicken that Hattie B’s made famous in Tennessee.
“I’m taking inspiration from these great places, these great ingredients, and giving them a sense of place in Miami.”
Hales, who grew up in Louisiana and Tampa, recently became smitten with chicken and ribs. More than a year ago, he went on what was supposed to be a two-day road trip for a wedding in St. Augustine that turned into a two-week eating tour of the South, with stops in Savannah, Charleston, Charlotte and Asheville.
He ate at dives, mom-and-pops and renowned restaurants such as Husk and Fig. He came home with a menu full of ideas.
“How does this fit into Miami?” he asked himself.
So over the summer he opened a pop-up for Bird & Bone at the Wynwood Yard, and the response was so great he started looking for a place to set up a full restaurant.
Expect a Bird of the Day (think squab, quail) and a Bone of the Day (bone-in rib eye, Tomahawk chops) and a variety of vegan and vegetarian side dishes intended to be main courses, since Hale eats mostly vegetarian and, for a time, was vegan.
In the 1930s House in the pool area at the hotel, Hales also will open Nina’s Guesthouse, an iteration of his short-lived downtown taco shop, Centro.
Hales is a reflection of the many cultures and cuisines he conjures. He has Filipino roots but also Irish and Italian, and dinner growing up in Louisiana could mean anything from Filipino adobo pork to Swedish meatballs. Bird & Bone will show another side to Hales’ unexplored passion for cooking.
“People are used to me making Asian food because that’s what I’m known for,” he said. “Bird & Bone won’t just be meat and potatoes, either — though you can certainly have that.”
It will be a busy year for Hales, who also will open another Blackbrick restaurant inside the new Central Fare at the upcoming MiamiCentral downtown train station.