The Spillover by LoKal brings sustainable seafood paired with
Ciders and Meads to Coconut Grove
First came farm-to-table burgers and craft beer. That was followed by more burgers, more craft beer, and even busin’ you to breweries. And now, the people behind LoKal, Kush, and Vicky's House are doing it again, only this time they’re bringing local seafood to the table and the city’s first Cider and Mead bar to the village of Coconut Grove. The Spillover specializes in sustainable seafood and its perfect pairing and unexplored category of ciders and meads, featuring a constant rotation of one of each on tap as well as a collection of Belgian style bottles and a reserve list of ciders and meads.
“The goal is to educate Miami on a category of an amazing drink that hasn’t been represented properly,” says Matt Kuscher. “When you go to a Japanese or Mexican restaurant you order sake or a margarita and it automatically feels right. We want to make it so that when you come to Spillover you order a cider or mead because you’re at Spillover, and it will taste amazing.”
Akin to LoKal and Kush, the Spillover puts emphasis on sourcing ingredients locally and sustainably (with Trigger Seafood reeling in line-caught and spear-caught fish daily, produce coming from Homestead whenever possible, and shellfish making its way from the Keys and Bahamas close waters in order to dish out the highest quality food in a casual and lax environment where diners can sit back and eat local seafood from our Florida waters, drink some ciders, and listen to blues while hanging with good people in flip flops and shorts. Challenging the status quo and misconception that Miami has seafood restaurants in every corner and on the water, (“you either have oyster bars or extremely high end seafood places or way too low brow seafood places”), the Spillover isn’t your average seafood house.
Kuscher’s largest menu and space (with 50-seats indoors and more outside) yet proffers a wide array of starters, salads, sandwiches, mains and sweets, all made in house and from scratch. While select dishes (favorites like the Fish n Chips, Key West conch salad, and local fish sandwich) have spilled over (pun intended) from LoKal and Kush, there are about 30 entirely new creations to savor. They include starters like Gulf Shrimp corn chowder, buffalo heirloom cauliflower, and golden Bahamian conch strips.
An exclusive to Spillover, the babagooey burger (served on a challah bun and topped with brie, caramelized apples, cinnamon butter, grilled onions, crispy bacon, and honey mustard) will surely give the Johnny Utah (voted best burger in Miami) a run for its taste. Other sandwiches include Old Bay pan seared crab cake topped with iceberg lettuce, sliced red onion, tomatoes, homemade cocktail and stone crab mustard sauce on a challah bun; Spillover’s rendition of pan con minuta (crispy yellowtail snapper on a challah bun); fried Bahamian conch; lobster reuben, a Florida Keys classic that packs an entire lobster in toasted crust-free rye bread and tops it with gruyere, homemade coleslaw and LoKal Sauce. “One of the cool things we’re doing is that every one of our lobster dishes has an entire live lobster that we’re cooking in house.”
But wait… there’s more!
As in the more section of the menu, which includes a novel take on jambalaya with Proper Sausages sausage, Gulf shrimp, local grouper, and a local fried egg on top; Florida grouper and chips; whole fried catch of the day; and fall off the bone BBQ Gator ribs from Clewiston (of which only 15 orders are slow roasted daily).
Vegetarians need not fret as they’ve got plenty of options ranging from heirloom tomato salad to guilt-free zucchini spaghetti with grilled shrimp, kale pesto and Parmesan, veggie crab cakes and even a rotating veggie platter with your choice of four daily greens straight from the farm to pick from.
While you won’t find Kush or LoKal’s key lime pie (named best in Miami by Travel + Leisure) at Spillover, it’s a sweet ending nonetheless thanks to the chocolate cake thats pure sexual chocolate, classic and creamy cheesecake with strawberry sauce, and Kuscher’s Puerto Rican mom’s guava bread pudding recipe, which he grew up on. “I put guava on everything. That’s why there’s guava on the frita at Kush and LoKal and why we’re doing this.”
Though ciders and meads are the highlight of Spillover’s beverage program, beverage director and bona fide beer geek Vanessa Guiracoche is rotating a list of European beers and alternating flavors of local kombucha on tap, as well as Eternity Roasters cold brew on nitro. “With LoKal around the corner and Kush already killing the local and craft American beer game we wanted to focus on Europe since they go perfect with our menu and add to what we’re doing with the ciders, which is part of the daily culture in Spain,” says Kuscher, who got his first taste of real, non-sugared ciders while studying abroad in Spain and never looked back. Case in point, Spillover is replicating the long pour process that traditionally takes place four feet above the glass with any Spanish cider. “Ciders have this mainstream rep for being a sweet and sugary alcoholic apple juice. I can’t let people talk about ciders that way.” But it’s not all ciders and meads Kuscher’s pushing the envelope on. “We’ve also upped our wine list a couple of steps,” he adds, focusing more on the entire spectrum of wine, his area of expertise in his previous corporate life.
Since his departure from the corporate world, Kuscher has made sure everything he has a hand in resonates with not just Miami but the planet in some way. It’s why he sources ethically and locally and why the design and artwork at all his concepts have come from repurposed and recycled materials, as well as pop culture motifs. “What’s one man’s garbage is another man’s restaurant.” At Spillover, Miami artist Camilo Rojas has made the restrooms an homage to Spanish television icons Don Francisco (who’s legendary hand gesture and quotes take up an entire wall in the ladies’ room) and Chapulin Colorado while artist G-Wiz is doing his take on El Chavo del Ocho staring at men as they pay a visit to the urinal. A brick blue focal wall acts a sort of map of Miami, with each town name painted and old ripped up newspapers from the respective towns plastered all over it.
Additional random yet well thought out idiosyncrasies can be found in every corner, from an old bike (now the hostess stand) to 100’s of cans of Old Bay seasoning and adorning the front of the bar to vintage doors that Kuscher’s been collecting since he first thought of the Spillover hanging behind the bar and on the ceiling.
Burrowed away in the alfresco walkway of the historic Mayfair in the Grove, the Spillover is a quiet oasis amidst Coconut Grove’s nearby pedestrian flurry. “We wanted to stretch the grove out and give people a reason to walk from one side (Lokal) to the other (Spillover) and because of the love we have for the Grove, which is a real community where people are nice to one another and walk/live at a slower pace than the rest of Miami.” Outdoor (and breezy) seating for people and dogs (who by the way get their own menu including Cuban chew-gars) with a running fountain make it the idyllic setting to enjoy a working lunch, lazy afternoon, or romantic dinner with your pup, pal, or partner. “I don’t want to say it’s romantic but it’s romantic.”
As for the name Spillover, Kuscher came up with it because the original plan and location was to be next door to LoKal, (i.e. The Spillover by LoKal). “The deal didn’t happen but I fell in love with the name and logo so much I didn’t want to change it,” he says. “Now we look at it like it’s a joke since there are no restaurants next door or close by to spill over. We’re the no Spillover by LoKal.”