The Coral Gables farm-to-table eatery, The Dome Restaurant & Caviar Bar, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary on February 3. Located on 271 Miracle Mile, the environmentally conscious restaurant serves Latin-American fusion dishes using fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Owner Rachel Dominguez brings to the table her Cuban-Russian heritage, her love of caviar and an eco-friendly dining approach. Eater spoke with Dominguez about one year in at the restaurant and what's making it successful.
How did The Dome come to be?
From the beginning I knew I wanted to open an environmentally responsible restaurant and share my love of caviar with the world. It has been an incredible experience building a green restaurant from the ground up and I'm extremely proud to offer our guests an Eco-friendly dining experience with a unique menu inspired by a twist on Latin flavors and quality aqua-cultured caviar.
How did the opening go? What surprised you about it?
It was amazing! You work for 2 solid years creating concept, design, and food but you still don't know if anyone will walk through your doors. We were packed! It was the most beautiful feeling in the world next to the birth of my children.
What are some of the challenges you faced that you weren't expecting?
Starting a new restaurant is hard because you are faced with taking everything you envisioned and trying to implement it onto your staff and customers. There are so many facets to a restaurant that I think people don't understand when they come to dine. Keeping all the million wheels turning and making sure no one knows the flaws. Welcome to show business baby!
How did the review process go with the critics?
It's been really positive and we've had some great feedback. We've actually seen a direct increase in clientele due to the numerous reviews and write-ups both in print and on-line.
A year later, what has changed at the restaurant?
Last month we announced the launch of "The Culinary Youth Project", a first of its kind foundation that's purpose is to educate South Florida youth on farming locally sourced organic food. For our first project, we partnered with Ready-to-Grow Gardens and the culinary arts program at Coral Gables High School to create a student-run edible garden that will enhance the restaurant's menu while providing the necessary tools for an enriching hands-on educational experience. I have always had a philanthropic heart and have started the The Culinary Youth Project on my own. I want my restaurant, The Dome, to be a platform for doing something good in the community, while bringing true healthy organic food to the table. My ongoing goal at The Dome is to feed mind, body and soul. The Culinary Youth Project educates youth on organic farming. We support culinary education by raising funds for classroom equipment, internships, state competitions and culinary training with certifications for all youth interested in the culinary field. My dream is to bring on other culinary professionals and the local community to participate in raising funds for these kids.
What's been your biggest success at the restaurant?
In August we officially became the first LEED® Silver certified restaurant in Coral Gables. It's an honor to have achieved the LEED Silver certification and I hope other restaurateurs will follow suit. Additionally, it has been my dream to create a garden for The Dome since first coming up with the concept for the restaurant. The partnership with Ready-to-Grow Gardens and the impressive program at Gables High School has made this dream a reality, far exceeding anything I could have imagined. Not only is the foundation supporting the future generations of chefs while giving back to the community, but it is also enhancing The Dome's customer experience by using a sustainable, nourishing and safe food source. The overwhelmingly positive experience that I have had with the garden is what I wish to extend to others with The Culinary Youth Project.
What does The Dome have in store for the future?
There are some major changes coming up in the next couple of a months that I am really excited about. We'll be sure to keep you posted once we are ready to make the official announcement.
When you're in Miami and not at The Dome, where do you like to eat?
Love, Love Asian cuisine. A night on the town requires a Rene Ruiz cocktail dress and an intimate table at Hakkasan. It reminds me of Buddakan in New York. You are transported away from the world. I love their vegetarian Dim Sum and the Chinese honey glazed cod. On a relaxed night, which is what I most desire, there is nothing like being home cooking for family and friends with a great bottle of wine.
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