From the Mouth of Chef Brad Kilgore
Photographs by David Salazar and Jesus Brazon
It used to be that fine dining was an experience reserved for birthdays and special occasions, conjuring images of pressed white linens, dim lighting and exorbitant checks. But when 29-year-old Chef Bradley Kilgore opened Alter, his 65-seat chef-driven restaurant in Wynwood, he changed that perception.
Here he masters the delicate balance of casual fine dining in a spare industrial space that highlights sophisticated food in an unpretentious atmosphere. “Wynwood is the perfect fit for us,” he says, “We wanted the food to be showcased in a setting that wasn’t too flashy or over the top. And being a very art-forward neighborhood, we thought the style and presentation of the food fit into that too.”
Focused on locally–sourced seasonal ingredients, Chef Kilgore’s artfully prepared New-American fare is fresh and inviting. On any given night, the chef tasting menu priced at $65 dollars showcases the best of what Alter is about in the span of five courses. Poached Grouper cheeks fresh from Florida waters, hand-harvested Sunray clams, local oyster mushrooms steamed and smoked; the list of layered flavors and rich textures extends to every dish on the menu.
“We really want to focus on the purity of products and ingredients and highlight that on the menu,”
says Chef Kilgore.
His commitment to ingredients sourced from the state is thorough. He sources from Florida purveyors in Homestead, Cape Canaveral and Okeechobee and even grows some of his own ingredients. Alter’s backyard garden includes edible flowers, lemongrass, culantro, arugula flowers, different types of Thai chilies and purple jalapenos.
On five acres of land near Tampa he plans to grow his own garlic, “I want to grow my own garlic because I feel like if everyone is getting their food from the same purveyors everyone’s food is going to taste the same. And these large purveyors all carry the same product and its all mass produced, whether its garlic or onions. And they just don’t have the same flavor as a fresh vegetable that is just out of the ground.”
Remarking on the abundance of Florida’s natural offerings, he notes that in the parking lot of the restaurant there are avocados, wild pears, surinam cherries and about 50 coffee plants. He and his team have fun with urban foraging, picking mangos and jackfruit when they are in season.
CHEF KILGORE EATS
When Chef Kilgore is not cooking at Alter, he eats at these local spots.
CAKE THAI KITCHEN - Everything
PANYA THAI - Larb Salad
LUCALI - Calzone
LA MAR - Chaufa Aeropuerto
Alter’s menu stands out not only because of its commitment to ingredients but also the type of ingredients chosen. He tends to serve things unknown or uniquely singular and uses fish not often seen on menus, like Amberjack, Yellowjack or Wahoo. Grouper cheeks are his hidden gem, poached gently and served with black rice, a shoyu hollandaise and sea lettuces.
“We’re surrounded by the ocean on all sides, yet it’s always Mahi or snapper, there’s got to be a lot more coming out of that water.” And the public agrees with him. Since opening in May of this year, Alter has received critical acclaim and consistently tops best-of lists. A reservation is hard to come by.
Chef Kilgore isn’t taking his success lightly, investing his time in the community that so loves him by participating in chef-challenges, food festivals and partnering with Wynwood Yard on a food truck. Bar Alter, an outdoor cocktail space debuts now during Art Basel.
But for all the fancy dishes and the accolades, Chef Kilgore still has his simple pleasures, “Crab Rangoon, we ate it a lot on Sundays growing up in my house."
223 NW 23rd Street
Tasting Menu $65