Go to Seasalt and Pepper for the View, but Not the Food
A leggy, tan woman wearing a white halter top struts along a worn wooden dock overlooking the Miami River. Her lips curl to smile as she passes a glistening champagne bucket dripping with condensation and tables piled with cracked stone crab claws. A doe-eyed hostess escorts the woman and her husband, sporting white linen shorts and a rose gold Audemars Piguet, to a thick wooden table surrounded by heavy leather-and-wood chairs.
billwisserphoto.com Octopus a la Plancha.
In the distance, a sleek, 60-foot pleasure cruiser lazes up the river. Deck hands scurry to tie up lines as a pastel-clad family gathers on the stern. As the boat docks, a deckhand's head begins bobbing to the beat of the restaurant's thumping techno. It doesn't take long, however, for the growl of the massive engines to overpower the nightclub anthem.
Diners furrow their brows. Is this a fine restaurant or a boatyard?
Compared to its far less glitzy neighbors -- Garcia's Seafood Grille and Casablanca Fish Market -- the airy, 250-seat Seasalt and Pepper looks like an effort at gentrification. When it was barely a month old, Jay Z and Beyoncé, as well as Gloria and Emilio Estefan, showed up the same night. DJ Bob Sinclar, actor Ryan Phillippe, and Khloé Kardashian have been spotted at its nearly impossible-to-reserve tables.
billwisserphoto.com Looking out onto the Miami River from Seasalt and Pepper.
Perhaps it was co-owner Carlos Miranda's longstanding friendship with the Estefans and a handful of ladies from The Real Housewives of Miami that helped attract the glitz. Miranda, a real estate developer who has worked for Starwood, Hilton, and the Mandarin Oriental, partnered with Stephane Dupoux, designer of Nikki Beach and Paris' legendary Buddha Bar, to create a chic and expensive-looking space that's also effortlessly casual.
Seasalt's stark-white entryway is framed by glistening marble tile, white wood slats, and an oversize black-and-white photo of nude, reclining women. During an early Saturday brunch, when dozens of the oak-topped tables sat empty on the riverside patio, guests were asked to wait "just a moment" by a hostess standing behind a long mahogany table decorated with a vase of white tiger lilies. "Feel free to grab a drink at the bar," said another hostess, tall and slender with pouty lips.
See also: Photos of Seasalt and Pepper
A mere hour later, a phalanx of men wearing gold-framed aviator sunglasses and white linen shirts unbuttoned down to their stomachs stood at the shaded, stone-topped bar. Some seemed to relish the wait, as though a lengthier impasse would lead to a better meal.
Others were less enthusiastic, and multiple guests harangued sharply dressed managers about waits that stretched more than an hour past the appointed time.