Casual feast

09/21/2012 12:00 AM

10/04/2012 4:51 PM

If you’re a follower of Miami’s ever-evolving gastronomic scene, you’ve likely been to at least one of Claudio Giordano’s ventures. From La Bussola in Coral Gables, the acclaimed Italian gem he opened in the 1980s and managed for 15 years, to Altamare on South Beach, his ode to fresh, local seafood which he still runs, Giordano is one of the area’s most lauded, longtime restaurateurs, an expert in creating deliciously luxurious dining experiences. So it may come as a surprise to some that his newest venture—the just-opened TIKL Raw Bar & Grill on Brickell Avenue—is a decidedly more casual affair. “The dining scene has changed,” admits the Italian-born transplant. “People are looking for a more relaxed experience.”

Enter Giordano’s partner, chef Simon Stojanovic, the former sous-chef at the famous Michael’s Genuine whose been at the helm of Altamare’s kitchen for three years and who’s now shifted to TIKL to introduce a new menu and concept. “It will be centered around many different plates of food rather than a three-course dinner,” Stojanovic says. “You can try six or seven smaller dishes and share them with your friends. For me, as a chef, that’s a good thing because you’ll be experiencing more.”

The experience he’s referring to might include any or all of the following: a duck egg poached in a most trendy way (slowly, at 144 degrees Fahrenheit for nearly an hour, yielding an egg that’s somewhere between raw and perfectly creamy) sitting atop a smooth veal rillette; a carpaccio of hogfish, the local fish that’s surfacing on many a high-end menu these days; or something, anything, cooked ever so briefly on Stojanovic’s favorite new toy, the Japanese robata grill, which imparts a distinct, subtle smokiness on anything it touches. Like a good father of many dishes, Stojanovic says he can’t pick a favorite—“I love them all”—but confesses he had the hardest time figuring out how to adapt the octopus starter from Altamare to this new menu. “It’s the most popular dish there so we knew we wanted to bring it here, but in a different way,” he says. “It’s been a challenge to change something that’s already so good. But we did it.” Another adjustment for the restaurant duo: focusing on value. While it’s certainly feasible to go to TIKL and drop $300 for dinner and drinks, “we also wanted to make it so you could come, sit at the bar, have lunch and get out for $40,” Giordano said.

Giordano is certainly up for the challenge; after all, this is a man whose hobbies include blue water spear fishing. “You jump into 3,000 feet of water in the open sea and with your spear try to catch whatever comes up,” he explains, getting excited. “Yes, there are sharks. But you just push them away.” What he won’t be pushing away, of course, is any of the 1,300 people who work in the building where TIKL is located. “That,” he says, “should make a nice lunch crowd.” —BCW

TIKL Raw Bar & Grill, 1450 Brickell Avenue, Suite 110, Miami; 305-372-0620; tiklrestaurant.com

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