Restaurant News & Reviews

Deciding where to eat in Coconut Grove just got harder — and that’s a good thing

Lamb slow-cooked sous vide for 24 hours at Boho in Coconut Grove.
Lamb slow-cooked sous vide for 24 hours at Boho in Coconut Grove.

Every neighborhood should be so lucky! Coconut Grove, which up until just a few of years ago had almost no rave-worthy casual restaurants, has just gotten yet another sensational spot. Ironically with its vintage, hippy-ish vibe, Boho is more like the old Grove than anything else here — except maybe the Last Carrot.

That is no accident. The friendly owners, including Pavlos Giavis and Nektarios Nikolopoulos, have been coming here from Greece for decades and were smitten. “My partners and I love to travel here. We love Coconut Grove. It’s a little European, the style, the people,” Giavis says.

No matter who is working which days, they all make a point of chatting with every guest. Waitresses remember (or do a damn good job of pretending to) diners from visit weeks or days ago.

This Mediterranean spot is at once casual and easy but with an authentic sense of hospitality that is increasingly rare in our growing metropolis.

Boho lives up to its name with its gypsy chic décor of mismatched iron and wood chairs, swaths of verdant botanical wallpaper, well-worn wooden planked floor and area rugs that look as though they came from Yia Yia’s attic. They contribute to the comfortable, lived-in vibe. It could have been here as long as the CG Animal Clinic on Grand Avenue.

Thanks goes to this team of Greek restaurateurs who have more than half a dozen bars, coffee shops and restaurants in Mykonos and Athens — and soon a hotel.

Their executive chef, Harris Kossyfas, has come over for weeks at a time to work the kitchen and train locals in the recipes from their popular eateries back home. One of those chefs is Christos’ son Yanni.

The food is so elemental, so appealing, so vibrant and fresh. The service equally so. A team of young, relaxed but knowledgeable servers goes out of its way to make every guest comfortable.

The one-page menu is a simple, changing cardstock with lots of great choices.

All the salads are thoughtfully composed, delicately dressed and expertly portioned. The Greek salad is a classic from the island — no lettuce but bite-size chunks of perfectly ripe tomatoes, skin-on cucumber crescents, salty chunks of crumbly feta cheese and real Kalamata olives.

Quinoa salad, with sunshine-colored beets and fresh herbs, forms a nest for a salty-smooth slice of halloumi, the classic Greek cheese (a semi-hard, brined white cheese from Cyprus) served warm from the grill.

What card-carrying Greeks would open a restaurant without octopus? Here a muscley but tender arm is tasty with its accompanying sundried tomato. I would only ask that the smear of fava bean puree were more than just a decorative swipe.

A lunchtime burger cooked perfectly juicy and pink in the center is served with a peppy basil pesto with newborn arugula. It is set off with a sensationally tangy-sweet housemade tomato marmalade and melted asiago smeared on a toasty brioche bun.

The signature Boho steak, a thick slice of slightly chewy picanha shingled with crystally planks of parmesan, is delicious, but the better (and pricier) beautifully seared boneless ribeye is truly a surprise. It is tender, flavorful and juicy with a rich, spoon-coating demi-glace and an array of deeply roasted, veggies including asparagus, potatoes and beets.

As might be expected from Greek hands in the kitchen, seafood is finessed like raw silk. The daily special, often snapper or black grouper from local fishermen or sea bass from the Mediterranean, is served as a filet so fresh and gently handled that it appears luminous on the plate, nearly ready to levitate. It is nestled amid a gorgeous nest of glistening kale and spinach with an earthy celery root puree.

A menu staple, the wild and super fresh salmon, a simple, meaty filet, rests in a shallow pool of beet puree with a minty yogurt sauce to lend tang while shaved zucchini gives it verve.

Not everything lives up to the exacting standards. A cracker-thin pizza looks perfect with skeins of see-through prosciutto piled high after cooking, but the crust lacks even a pinch of flavor or pliability.

Desserts are simple but satisfying, especially the so-called Yia-Yia’s orange pie, a golden square of sweet, spongey cake laced with bits of orange peel and draped with a lacey caftan of powdered sugar and a confetti of fresh baby flowers and microgreens. It’s gorgeous with a creamy scoop of dense and dreamy vanilla ice cream. In the Nutella calzone, the blistered pizza crust works better. We haven’t yet sampled the banoffee pie, but seeing as this is a place we will be often, no doubt it will be soon among the many dishes here worth raving about.

These Greek restaurant veterans know their audience after 20 years of hosting them in their native island. Now they say, “We feel very at home.” Perfect! We all feel really at home, too.

Follow Victoria Pesce Elliott on Twitter @VictoriaPesceE

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If You Go

Place: Boho

Address: 3433 Main Hwy, Miami

Rating: (Very Good)

Contact: 305-549-8614; Facebook.com/Boho.Miami

Hours: Noon-10:30 p.m., Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday

Prices: Brunch and lunch $8- $18; dinner starters and salads $9-$14; pizza $12-$16; entrees $19-$35.

FYI: Wine and beer (and sake cocktails) only; Corkage $20 per bottle; Reservations accepted AX, DS, MC, VS.

What The Stars Mean: 1 (Poor) 1.5 (Fair) 2 (OK) 2.5 (Good) 3 (Very Good) 3.5 (Excellent) 4 (Exceptional)

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