News spread quickly amongst Latin outlets in the summer of 2013 that Colombian chef Juan Manuel Barrientos was going to open a location of his highly-acclaimed El Cielo in Miami, his first project outside of Colombia. Along with a small handful of other chefs from South America that include Peru's Jaime Pesaque of Suviche and Gastón Acurio of La Mar, he was going to bring bold, unexpected new flavors from the South to Miami. But then things went quiet, and we haven't heard much since. However, it's time to get excited. Come early January, El Cielo's doors will finally open, serving up modernist Colombian cuisine, the likes of which Miami has never seen.
The idea for the new space came when Barrientos visited Miami for the first time back in 2012. "I knew when I landed that I needed to open a location here," he said surrounded by his team of chefs, construction workers, and even his parents—the principal investors in the restaurant—all working to get the kitchen ready for cooking and soft openings. Private friends and family tastings are scheduled to begin early next week.
El Cielo will be located at 41 SE 5th St. at Brickell on the River. Inside, diners can expect a rustic-meets-modern Miami vibe, with a long dining room full of broad wooden tables with white leather chairs, overlooking the Miami river. El Cielo will also feature an illuminated glass bar which extends the length of the dining room, an open kitchen at the restaurant's entrance, as well as a salon at the far end of the space, which can be used for private parties.
Barrientos informs us that El Cielo should be open to the public in the first few days of January. A set menu, 10 or 15 courses, will be served with optional pairings. While the restaurant will be importing Colombian-specific items, it will also be placing a strong emphasis on local ingredients, using Florida beef and fish, as well as local produce, beers, and wines. Diners can expect plenty of modernist flare including liquid nitrogen steam, and textures, and creative plating. El Cielo will also have a tasting menu at the bar featuring cocktails and desserts.
Eventually, the space will seat 60, with a patio lounge available for drinks and snacks. Service will include brunch, lunch, early dinner, and dinner, by reservation only. For the January opening, they'll begin by serving 20 guests a night, and add tables with time. No website or reservation line has been set up yet. For now, get a taste of what's to come via their Colombian website and Facebook page.