Restaurant News & Reviews

How two top chefs hope to bring Miami Beach ‘affordable’ seafood

Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis will open Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbour in early 2017.
Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis will open Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbour in early 2017.

What Yardbird did for chicken and biscuits, Jeff McInnis hopes his upcoming Miami Beach restaurant will do for down-to-earth seafood.

McInnis, the founding chef at Yardbird, is opening Stiltsville Fish Bar in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood with his chef/partner Janine Booth (like him, a former Top Chef contestant) early next year.

The restaurant, in partnership with the Grove Bay Hospitality Group (which is helping revitalize Coconut Grove’s dining scene), is turning the former Joe Allen’s/Pubbelly Steak location into a two-story building with a rooftop deck to overlook the harbor. Prices, they say, will be affordable in the face of Miami’s pricey fine dining.

“We want people to come in flip-flops and feel comfortable,” he said, joking, “though shoes and shirts will be required.”

It is the third restaurant for the pair, and they say they expect to be very hands-on. They have an apartment over Root & Bone in New York’s East Village, and they live primarily in a condo at the Shelborne Wynham Grand. The Shelborne houses their recently opened Sarsaparilla Club — which they say they are also “100 percent dedicated to.”

McInnis said he wanted to open a restaurant reminiscent of the easy, casual fish houses he grew up with in the Florida Panhandle. His idea merged with Booth’s upbringing fishing with her father in Australia, and they often go fishing near Stiltsville on weekends.

“Fresh seafood is something we both love,” Booth said. “We wanted to bring a humble seafood restaurant to Miami.”

McInnis said he has set up deals with several local fisherman to bring in a bevy of unexpected native seafood — including sheepshead fish, tilefish and triggerfish — to docks directly across from the restaurant. Plus, they will have rarer items such as deep-sea golden crab brought in and kept alive in tanks on site.

“We’re going to have a real fish house feel,” he said. “We’ll be selling what we catch right out of the water that day.”