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Azul chef Joel Huff apprenticed under José Andrés, and the notion of many teeny flavors in petite portions conspiring to form a larger-than-life meal is at play here. But instead of a procession of miniature courses, the tiny taste explosives come bundled upon each plate. Too many misfire. When the idea works well, as with a smoked octopus appetizer, it's like incongruously styled musicians harmonizing in a surprisingly moving manner. When it doesn't work, as with an Alaskan king crab appetizer, it's like a variety show with jugglers, drag queens, and clowns crammed onstage at once, each clamoring for your attention. What else works: pumpkin soup with goat cheese and rock shrimp; risotto with wild mushrooms; smoked octopus; and braised Wagyu short ribs. What else misses: pan-seared branzino, duck breast, and overgarnished oysters. Dishes are pricey, excellent wines are expensive, service is inconsistent, an air of pretentiousness reigns, and valet is a ripoff at $13.
Forbes Travel Guide recently issued its list of the top restaurants, hotels, and spas in the world, and Miami scored big this year with the addition of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Spa and it... More »
2013 has been around for 23 days and counting, so those memories of champagne toasts, sparklers and epic hangovers may feel like forever ago. But the Year of the Snake is about to arrive, so the celeb... More »
I've dined at Azul twice and on both occasions, I was blessed with wonderful seats by Patrick who was just charming. The food was delicious, the service, excellent and the view, spectacular, especially on my second visit.
Cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean flavors with Asian influences. At the focus of Azul, a magnificent white marble open kitchen and raw bar vie for your attention with the floor to ceiling windows that showcase the picturesque bay views.
Clay Conley took over as top toque at Azul in 2005. The prior chef, Michelle Bernstein, had propelled the property to the top of the hotel restaurant heap; Conley, a protégé of Boston celebrity chef Todd English, has kept it there. His clean, precise preparations of Mediterranean cuisine (along with some American and Asian touches) boast multiple flavors and often involve various takes of one main ingredient on the plate. To wit: a duet of Sonoma rabbit -- the loin wrapped... More »
"God is liberal of color; so should man be." We have it on good authority that when Herman Melville offered these words on interior decorating, he was not referring to Azul, the acclaimed restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. For one thing, Melville was long dead when Azul opened. Also, Azul isn't that colorful. Just gorgeous. A big, bright, slightly elevated open kitchen is clad in white marble and stainless steel, as is the ravishingly sexy raw bar. White linens grace the tables,... More »
A view overlooking the bay, back toward Miami, and down sparkling Brickell Avenue is the first thing you notice when walking into the elegant, nouveau-Asian lobby of the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Then, at the entrance to the restaurant, you glimpse the waterfall that separates the open kitchen from the dining area. The absolute succulence of the dishes devised by celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein dazzles you next. And finally a bill that surpasses monthly car and mortgage payments combined... More »
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