“I can’t describe Mandolin in one word, but if I had to it would be Aegean or the taste of endless Summer.”
I had the absolute pleasure this past weekend to enjoy a Mediterranean experience at Mandolin in Miami, FL. The dishes were freshly complemented by diligent customer service. I enjoyed the mix of Greek & Turkish cuisine paired with aged red wine in a truly eclectic atmosphere. The design of the restaurant reminded me of everything I miss about Mediterranean living. Luckily, owners Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis welcome those seeking an authentic Aegean experience in South Florida! Here is their exclusive interview –
“Mandolin is our love story – it is about food bringing people and cultures together. We are of Greek and Turkish backgrounds – we have historically been rivals, and we found that food brought us together and we realized the similarities between our cultures. Our cuisine is Aegean – the region between our favorite part of the Mediterranean where the Greek islands meet the Turkish coast. We cook authentic coastal recipes using seasonal ingredients with an emphasis on fresh seafood and salads.
Aegean food is about simplicity, authenticity and quality through our dishes. It isn’t just something we strive for, but the food and customer service is part of our ethos at the restaurant. We select quality people to work with us – our management team is on the floor and leading by example. Ahmet and myself are at the restaurant daily and it is 100% a team effort. When we pick our team, we don’t look at experience but rather a genuine and passionate individual to join our family. We like to communicate the importance of our food being ingredient driven. It is very important to source consciously and allow the ingredients to be the stars of the dish. We always say we are an ingredient driven restaurant, not a chef driven restaurant. Freshness and simply composed dishes prevail at Mandolin.
Mandolin is onto its eighth year in business. It started as a 20-seat small restaurant, and currently has 150 seats. Within these eight years, we’ve added an organic garden, onsite bakery and in this last year a market where we sell artisanal products imported from Greece and Turkey. Two years ago, we also partnered with Soho House and Co, and can be found within their Soho House Istanbul, Soho House London -Shoreditch and Soho House Berlin Members Clubs. We are excited to announce that in November, the next branch of our business will launch as MrsMandolin. It will be a café, market, and retail shop providing a 360-degree lifestyle program from food, homewares and resort wear – everything you need to recreate the feeling of summer all year round.
When you walk behind the blue gates of Mandolin, you clearly feel transported to the Aegean, but we are very conscious of the fact that Mandolin is a Miami brand. It was born in Miami and supported by locals here so naturally the environment around us plays a large role.
The garden and original 1940s house that we restored are integral elements of the brand. Thank you to the world of social media, we are always looking at what is happening culturally from around the globe. We draw inspiration from fashion, art, and we are fortunate enough to travel to our other locations. There is never a trip where we don’t visit the local farmers market and flea market. We also work in a very social business – we socialize for a living. At the restaurant, we speak with people from all different walks of life and exchange ideas, experiences and thoughts, therefore a restaurant is like a study in social science; we can feel when things are changing – people continually are going back to the basics and are simplifying life these days.” – Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis.