March 31, 2015
On February 24, 2015, Linda and I were staying at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Brickell Key in Miami. The highlight of our day was the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.
Then we went downstairs to one of the hotel’s two restaurants, Azul.
The cuisine is eclectic with French and Asian influences. The only tasting menu offered that week was a four-course Chinese New Year menu, which did not appeal to us, so we ordered à la carte. We started with a glass of Prosecco for me and Piper Heidsick Red Label for Linda. We ordered a bottle of Brewer Clifton “Mount Carmel” Pinot Noir, but the last bottle was gone and the sommelier brought us a bottle of 2012 Chanin “Los Alamos Vineyard” (Santa Barbara) Pinot Noir. It was good and appropriate for the cuisine.
Linda’s first course was
Creamed Corn Risotto
Black Truffle, Coach Farms Triple Crème Brûlée
Creamed corn is an unusual base for a risotto, but combined with a triple crème goat cheese, it was a great success. The cheese brûlée added a sweetness that went well with the black truffle slices that topped the risotto.
Alaskan King Crab
Yuzu Dashi, Umeboshi, Rouille, Cucumber
The crab was excellent. It was served three ways: a meaty chunk, leg segments and a warm croquette. The fusion saucing was restrained and appropriate.
Linda’s main course was
Colorado Lamb Saddle
Marcona Almond, Piquillo, Roasted Garlic, Eggplant, Wild Grain
The two thick slices of lamb were succulent, wonderfully tender and had plenty of flavor. The sweet piquillo pepper purée and eggplant purée served as a base for the well-prepared wild grain. Nasturtium flowers and leaves added color.
My main was
Pan Roasted Duck Breast
Forest Mushroom, Herb Emulsion,
Orange Compote, Whipped Chèvre
The duck was nicely cooked, with red meat contrasting with the confit leg. The herb sauce with flecks of goat cheese underneath was not really a good combination with the duck.
We had a good time. The cuisine was at a much higher level than one expects in a hotel restaurant. The service was good, although sometimes intrusive. The pace was brisk, but one could linger.