A Miami veteran with three well-regarded restaurants, executive chef Oscar del Rivero of the Jaguar Hospitality Group, knows what he is doing. His latest venture, Peacock Garden Café, which was recently named Best Restaurant, Coconut Grove by the Miami New Times, pairs a refreshing menu of simple, casual fare with the lush and serene beauty of the restaurant's garden, all while paying homage to the Grove's historical roots. Eater Miami chatted with Peacock Garden Café's executive chef Oscar del Rivero about balancing three restaurants, what has changed at Peacock over the past year, and what the future holds.
How did the opening go?
The opening was really exciting! We’ve done two previous openings with our restaurants Jaguar Ceviche and Talavera, but they did not compare to this one. We’ve definitely come a long way.
The garden at Peacock Cafe was so beautiful with all the plants and orchids and the brand new kitchen was so shiny we just couldn't wait to splatter some rich tomato sauce all over the place. Our team was incredible! Even with so much to do and our cooks working extreme hours, we managed to push out quality food almost immediately.
I truly had an awesome time witnessing this kitchen and restaurant's birth. It sure wasn’t easy, and we have the scars to prove it, but I couldn't be happier with theresults.
What were the challenges when you opened Peacock?
You name it, we experienced it: from plumbing issues to malfunctioning alarms and air conditioners. One of our greatest set backs was when a tropical storm hit and the garden patio was full of guests. It was definitely a challenge trying to accommodate everyone inside.
A year later, what has changed at the restaurant?
I’m happy to say that we needed more equipment in the kitchen to keep up with production. We’ve also added breakfast during the week and brunch on weekends after we saw a need for this in Coconut Grove. We recently debuted a new section of the property as the Dinner Key Dining Room, which is ideal for parties of all sizes.
What are the challenges balancing the kitchens of three restaurants?
The biggest challenge is finding people who are not only talented, but also caring, to execute the food and service our guests deserve.
What is your focus at the restaurant right now?
We continuously strive to offer our guests amazing, delicious and fresh options by fine-tuning dishes and coming up with extraordinary new ones. Giving my chefs their well-deserved time off is also a priority. It doesn’t feel like a year has gone by—that is how happy we are cooking in such a warm and beautiful place.
What's been your biggest success at the restaurant this past year?
A big success was recently catering a wedding for 200 guests. It was wild and cozy at the same time. Our guests had a blast! I am positive they are still dreaming about that party.
And what about a misstep?
We had planned a wonderful brunch buffet menu for the Coconut Grove Arts Festival weekend. We even had a little café going on the side of the restaurant to have enough room and food for all the visitors. We learned it was not in sync with what our regular customers preferred and we did not see as many guests as was anticipated.
When you're not at Peacock, where are you eating out?
When I finish up at Peacock Cafe, you'll find me at one of our sister restaurants, Jaguar Ceviche or Talavera. I truly love them both.
Does if feel like it's been a year?
Sometimes it feels as if it has been more than a year because of the all the effort, dedication and care we put into making the restaurant a success. At the same time, that year sure flew by fast and furious.
What are your plans for the future?
We hope to continue producing delicious, quality dishes for our guests to enjoy, and hope to produce interesting new concepts while always improving the ones we already have.