Thomas Keller, one of the best chefs in America, is doubling down on Miami.
After opening a high-end restaurant in Surfside, the Surf Club Restaurant, Keller is opening one of his French bistros, Bouchon, in a historic building in Coral Gables in early 2023, he told the Miami Herald.
Bouchon, which has locations in Las Vegas and near his three Michelin star restaurant The French Laundry in Yountville, focuses on classic French dishes, with seasonal ingredients and a raw bar. The restaurant is set to open in the nearly 100-year-old refurbished La Palma building, part of an on-going real estate and restaurant revitalization near Giralda Plaza’s “restaurant row.” That historical location appealed to Keller.
“We looked at it and fell in love,” Keller said on the phone. “We don’t look at market research. It was strictly because of the location and its history…. Bouchon is a neighborhood restaurant and we want it to be part of the Coral Gables neighborhood.”
Bouchon is positioned to be among Keller’s more accessible restaurants, whereas dinner at The French Laundry or his New York Per Se are four-dollar-sign affairs. Last month, his Surf Club restaurant was awarded one of Florida’s first Michelin stars, and dining there for less than $100 a person requires careful menu considerations. It was the Surf Club building’s roots as former playground for the wealthy, the Rat Pack and that “golden age” that originally attracted Keller to South Florida in 2018.
The original Bouchon in Yountville was designed as a late-night spot, where people getting off of work could eat well on French favorites, from steak frittes to oysters, possibly with a bit of bubbly on a big night, Keller said. History, again, was important, as he opened Bouchon in the first location he scouted for French Laundry.
Developers and brothers-in-law Jose “Pepe” Ortega and Marc Schwarzberg, who bought La Palma for $4.8 million in 2018 and are renovating it, recently redeveloped the historic Scientology building in Giralda Plaza, which was closed off and turned into a walkable area. It has given rise to a host of new restaurants and activity in the heart of the Gables, from eateries like Luca Osteria and the upcoming Eating House, to the changing art installations serving as a canopy over the plaza.
“It’s the best result we could have hoped for,” Ortega said of luring Keller to Coral Gables. “It makes it all worth it.”
Bouchon Coral Gables will seat 160 at La Palma, including 30 outdoors, with a separate, private dining room. La Palma, built in 1924, was designed by Gables founder George Merrick’s cousin, H. George Fink as one of the city’s first hotels. Ortega and Schwarzberg are redeveloping it into a multi-purpose office, restaurant and retail space, as they did with the Scientology building, which became several restaurant spaces and a rooftop bar.
Bouchon Coral Gables
Address: 2101 Galiano St., Coral Gables in the La Palma building
Coming: Early 2023
This story was originally published July 13, 2022 1:20 PM.