Brad Kilgore's New Cocktail Lounge (and Secret Dining Room) Will Take Miami by Storm
The 2016 F&W Best New Chef opens Kaido in early November. Here's an inside look.
In just a few weeks, Brad Kilgore will unveil his latest, long-anticipated restaurant in Miami: Kaido, a multifaceted space complete with a Tokyo-inspired cocktail bar, a secret dining room, and a second-floor outdoor terrace with music.
Kilgore, who runs two highly acclaimed restaurants in Miami, Alter and Brava by Brad Kilgore, will open Kaido sometime in early November in Paradise Plaza, an 175,000-square-foot, open-air square in the Miami Design District.
Two miles from his other restaurants, Kaido is vastly different from Kilgore’s previous hits. “I already have two restaurants where the food is the main draw,” Kilgore says. “With Kaido, we’re breaking away from the traditional appetizer, entrée, and dessert routine.”
In the Design District, he’ll serve gourmet cocktails and elevated street food with Parisian bartender Nico de Soto, who has mixed drinks in more than 30 different countries including Australia, France, and the U.S.
“The first question customers will be asked is how long they want their evening to last,” Kilgore says. “An hour, more, or maybe the whole evening. That will determine what kind of food and drinks we recommend.”
As for the cocktails, De Soto is behind two different menus: one for simple classics, and another with higher-end concoctions meant to be passed around the table. While the menus haven’t been released yet, he will incorporate ingredients like soy, daikon radish, sakura, Wakoucha black tea, and bamboo salt. Miami’s J. Wakefield Brewing will supply a crisp Japanese-inspired rice lager with lime made exclusively for the lounge. There will also be a line-up of highballs starting at $15 and a selection of rare Japanese whiskeys.
Drinks will be paired with Kilgore’s interpretation of Asian street food and riffs on classics. There will be a handful of sashimi dishes and robatayaki items grilled Japanese-style using binchotan, a charcoal that produces little flame or smoke but can generate temperatures well above the thousandth degree.
A look into Kilgore’s menu reveals umami butter-roasted enokitake, a type of long-stemmed white mushroom, along with Floridian “fugu” sashimi made with lionfish and caviar, sliced hamachi on a bed of grapefruit with chili vinegar and coriander salt, dashi-glazed fingerling potato served yakitori-style with truffle crème and leeks, and wagyu katsu sandwiches.
Toward the back end of Kaido, there will be an entirely separate room called Ama, named after the female Japanese pearl divers. Inside, Kilgore will offer an omakase menu featuring Kaido signatures and a few one-offs. The intimate room, which will be limited to Kilgore’s multicourse menu, will fit about 20 diners, with eight around a central bar and 12 seats at small tables.
“It will be a lot more private and experimental in here,” he says. “I’m not a traditional sushi chef either, so it won’t be like the omakase menus many are familiar with in Miami.”
Otherwise, Kaido will be anchored by a custom-made 1,000 butterfly knife chandelier placed above a long, golden bar with 12 seats. “If you’re sitting at the bar, our bartenders will basically explain all of the different drinks and pair food with each one,” Kilgore says. “It’ll be something comparable to a show.”
The main lounge area will include oversized banquettes, couches, and other low-lying lounge chairs and tables in dark gray and copper tones. There will also be an outdoor terrace overlooking the Miami Design District’s Paradise Plaza, and a DJ-like sound system throughout the space.
“Depending on where you sit, be it in the lounge, at the bar, or at Ama, it’ll be a completely different experience.”
Directly below Kaido, Kilgore will open Ember, a woodfired American bistro, in early February. Here, he will feature dishes cooked over an open-flame.
“Ember is a result of what I grew up with and the style I’ve put together over the years,” he says. “We won’t just be putting food on the grill. We’ll be using the heart and soul of a fire to create heat and produce flavor.”
While his menu is not finalized, he will grill foods including pâté, lasagna, and strawberries and cream. At Ember, Kilgore will offer six seats in front of the kitchen for diners to interact with the chefs, too.
Kaido and Ember will be among the first restaurants to launch under Kilgore’s newly-formed Kilgore Culinary Group, which gives him full ownership of Alter in Wynwood and any additional restaurants he opens in the future.
“It feels amazing to have the freedom to chase my goals and work toward styles of food and beverage that I’m interested in,” he says. “I’m able to express my imagination and get it out to the world without having to ask anyone else.”