Don't ever let the fancy and insanely expensive cars parked outside the SLS Hotel in Miami scare you away. Don't be intimidated by the hordes av beautiful and dressed to kill fashionistas in the nearby bars. The Bazaar by Jose Andres is food heaven and should be a priority for anyone visiting or living in Miami.
Chef Jose Andrés was born in Spain and trained under Ferran Adria, whose El Bulli in Catalonia changed the way the world eats, with its focus on experimental molecular cuisine. Now based in Washington, D.C., Andrés' Think Food Group oversees a growing collection of restaurants in D.C., Las Vegas, Los Angeles and in South Florida.
The Blanca dining room, as it's called, was built in 1940 as the lobby of the Grossinger Beach Hotel. Re-imagined by designer Philippe Starck, it is grand and fun, with a gigantic Octopus Chandelier being the centerpiece.
The cuisine is spanish (of course), where you can chose between more traditional tapas and tapas with a modern twist. Did I mention that Bazaar is food heaven?
Choosing from the menu is hard, my recommendation is to indulge yourself, order way too much, and sit back and just enjoy the ride. The food is excellent, cooked to perfection, and it almost always comes with a twist. Food is supposed to be good but when it also is fun - well, it makes for a wonderful experience.
A great tapas menu is often dependent on two things:
1. A great server who knows what to chose between all the different options.
2. A certain build-up of the courses so that you always start and end with a high-note.
Jovany, our server for the day, was spectacular. He had great knowledge around the menu, made perfect recommendations and was able to design a dinner that really was well orchestrated. He had humor, but also a professional distance so the dinner never felt forced or rushed. Our whole evening was managed by the book!!
After the initial flavor explosion from the great Jamon Iberico, the restaurant served up a great cheese platter.
We start with three wonderful tapas with great depth and flavors. Kueh Pai Ti which is a bite-size snack from Singapore. This was followed by foie gras and coffee - an awesome flavor combination that came as a complete surprise. We finished it off with Japanese Tacos where the pork chicharrones gave the tacos a crunchy texture which really elevated the course.
The next three courses was equally impressive. A caprese with liquid mozzarella, a dragonfruit ceviche packed with flavors, and finally hamachi with pickled onions. Traditional spanish food but with a modern twist that lifts these courses to a completely different level.
On to more food, more surprises and more flavors. Smoked Oysters with an apple mignonette. Take oysters, mix with apple mignonette, add smoke - and you have just created Oysters 2.0. Great depth and not overpowering smoke accents - simply wonderful as well!!
After the oysters, tapas after tapes entered our table and swiftly entered our mouths. They were all great but the highlight was the seared scallop, cooked and seasoned to perfection - you cannot cook a scallop better than this.
The highlight of the next two dishes was without the Black Rossejat, the squid ink gave it a very distinct flavor and combined with the sweet shrimps, it elevated this course to a great level. Did I mention that this is food heaven?
The next two tapas were so incredibly good that I just kept eating, even though I am this stage of the dinner was getting a little bit full. Foie Gras+Peanut Butter+Jelly=Awesomeness!!!! Bagels and Lox in a cone=Genius!!!
I can go back just for these two courses - but then again, why limit yourself. Did I mention this is food heaven?
Now we are slowly moving into dessert. And even though they were not as spectacular as the rest of the items, it is still a great ending to a wonderful experience.
In summary, Bazaar is food heaven. The service is impeccable, they have a great wine selection, a very hip crowd and is definitely worth a visit. It will not be cheap but it will be worth every cent.
And walking out in the humid Miami night, with the bustling lifestyle, and dressed to kill people, I smile.
I smile because:
1. I have a soda-pop which tastes great (thanks Jovany)
2. I know that I had a great dinner and that I will be back for a repeat.
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