Vin’tij Proves It Gets Better with Time
By Colleen Sachs | Photography by Mellow Media
For twenty years, Vin’tij has been a restaurant dominated by creative food, an extensive selection of wines, and polished service, all behind the unassuming exterior of a strip mall in Miramar Beach, Florida. On September 18, 2018, owner Todd Reber made what he calls “a quantum leap” to a stunning new location in Grand Boulevard.
Reber says the most significant change in the restaurant is in the address. It is true the longtime favorite menu items are there. Reber says the oyster BLT, the pecan chicken, the shrimp and grits, and the blue cheese and grape tart will never be taken off the menu. The fish of the day is still perfectly cooked. And the warm griddled lemon pound cake (served with sautéed strawberries and cinnamon ice cream) is still at the top of the dessert menu.
Vin’tij Food and Wine continues to have an award-winning wine boutique, and the menu is designed to complement the extensive selection of wines. In fact, wine is at the forefront of everything, from the four-course dinners to the grapevines in the restaurant’s logo. If you love Vin’tij, you will find all the things you love about it in the new location.
But the concept has expanded in wonderful ways. A brunch-style breakfast, a longtime dream of Reber’s, has been added and is served alongside the lunch menu until 3 p.m. The breakfast menu lists such classics as omelets, waffles (including cinnamon waffles topped with maple-bacon ice cream), and eggs Benedict (the version changes daily), alongside dishes inspired by cuisines of the world. Huevos rancheros with pork carnitas, filet and eggs with chimichurri, and a charcuterie board are on the menu. According to Reber, a new favorite is the guacamole board with toast points, chopped egg, dukkah (an aromatic Egyptian nut and spice blend), bacon, pickled red onions, and pico de gallo. There are even alcoholic beverage options that work beautifully with breakfast: a bright and fresh grapefruit, lemongrass, and ginger sake cocktail; a pink grapefruit sangria; and a sake Bloody Mary.
With a larger kitchen, Vin’tij is now able to offer vegan, gluten-free, and low-carb fare, making it possible to accommodate individual dietary needs. The Vegan Lucky Bowl—roasted cauliflower, new potatoes, mushrooms, garlic green beans, blistered tomatoes, shishito peppers, arugula, and garlic chips—is served over Asian stir-fried quinoa rice.
It takes a lot to make Vin’tij the exceptional restaurant that it is. In the kitchen are three chefs and “a team of talented cooks,” Reber says. He describes Chef de Cuisine Ignacio Bernal as the “creative inspiration for the majority of our menus, special events, and our four-course wine dinners.” Chef Jimbo Butler, who has been with Vin’tij for more than fifteen years, oversees the integrity of the original recipes that are so loved by regulars. And Chef Joe Canton manages the kitchen to make sure everything runs smoothly.
The oyster BLT, the pecan chicken, the shrimp and grits, and the blue cheese and grape tart will never be taken off the menu.
Reber credits his wife, Sabrina, with turning a passion of hers into one of the most exciting new features at Vin’tij. Cold-pressed juices are offered in the boutique refrigerator to grab and go. These thoughtfully created juices are the result of Sabrina’s quest to learn how the powerful nutrients of extracts can heal. That passion is evident as Sabrina discusses traveling to the Amazon where she spent fifteen days living with a Shipibo tribe going into the jungle to learn about barks, roots, leaves, berries, flowers, and plants with healing properties. Dragon’s Breath Elixir provides immune and digestive support in one to two tablespoons consumed with meals.
Juice blends provide a variety of benefits, depending on the ingredients. Various juice blends can boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and support heart and brain function. Vin’tij also offers juice cleanse programs of one, three, and seven days. The cold-pressed juices are scheduled for pick up each day, so they are at their freshest and most beneficial. In addition to the juices, nut milk is also included each day of the program.
Superfood smoothies and smoothie bowls, offered until 3 p.m. each day, are another part of the added attention to nutrient-dense options. The Farmers Market smoothie provides eight servings of fruits and vegetables.
The restaurant itself is simply beautiful. Swaths of cool, intense color cover the ceiling and walls. Large windows let in abundant light during the day, while simple clear globes bathe the dining room in soft light in the evening. The dining room, wine shop, and juice boutique occupy the same space, one flowing into the other.
The length of one long wall in the dining room is graced by a stunning mosaic of a gnarled grapevine made from thousands of tiny hand-cut mirror pieces (another mosaic adorns the wall in the bar area). Sabrina calls it their “family tree.” It was such a massive project that the whole family—Sabrina, Todd, and their two children—worked on it together. It is appropriate that the entire family created the mosaic; the name Reber means “keeper of the vine.” Combining the old and the new in a beautiful new space, the Reber family is clearly living up to its name.
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Colleen Sachs loves food and traveling around the world and has been writing about both for twenty-five years. She lives with her spouse and a multitude of pets in Santa Rosa Beach and Pensacola, Florida.