(Photo Courtesy of Darine Machado Crippen)
Braving Miami Beach traffic on a Saturday night is not for the faint of heart.
Valet parking at the SLS is a nightmare and priced at the high end, even for South Beach. They did fetch the car in record time on the way out but do yourself a favor and take an Uber. I am not going to lie, logistically it is a nightmare, but now you know. Plan accordingly.
I was late for my 9:45 reservation and became convinced that this was the reason they had put me in what felt like the center-of-the-center of the dining room, with what has to be the minimum space-between-tables requirement on Miami Beach. I later realized this was not the case, it was just Saturday night at the super trendy SLS. The dining room was large and open but dimly lit and crowded. It was abuzz with activity but well organized, so there was an easy flow amid the commotion.
Someone told me the menu had something like 90 items on it and the lighting was such that I would have been there all night, had I chosen to navigate such a long and complex document, so I decided Jose’s Ultimate Menu would be easier (on my eyes mostly). This is a multi-course tasting menu that alleviates the stress of having to choose from a long list of items that I am sure are each better than the next. Although I said multi-course, I know the exact number of courses they brought. Fourteen. Fourteen different items.In one sitting. While some may call the portions bite sized only two were actually bite-sized. You will leave full.
I paid very little attention to the menu once it was decided we would do the pre-fixe, so I did not know the actual number of courses involved until halfway through the meal when the food was coming out at a dizzying pace. No one seemed to know when the end was coming. I realized what appeared to be one course on the menu card, was actually two or three different dishes. I also realized I need reading glasses.
This was the first restaurant I ever brought wine to. It was a thank you gift for scoring someone a table at one of my favorite new spots. I am not a big drinker so I would never buy a bottle like this at a restaurant, I knew this wine needed some serious food. It was a 2000 red Bordeaux that I decided would have to pair with everything I ordered. A good wine should be like a pair of nude Manolos, it should go well with everything.
The meal opener is a tiny Ossetra caviar cone with all the traditional (and some not-so- traditional) accompaniments neatly tucked inside and topped with edible gold leaf. Welcome to Miami. This only whets the appetite but lets you know right from the start chef José Andres doesn’t mess around. For the next two and half to three hours you are going be his bitch, you are going to beg him to stop and he is going to take you. All. The. Way.
The second course is what the menu describes as “Singapore’s favorite street food” followed by a short list of ingredients. I think it is culinary witchcraft. If mouths had fireworks, this is what they would look like. Make the effort to put it all in your mouth. You won’t regret it. What follows is a head-spinning, mind-numbing food orgy. A carousel of servers bring food out until you are begging for mercy.
There’s a crab dish with raspberries so artfully presented you just want to sit and admire it for a minute and you think it cannot possibly taste as good as it looks. It does. Brussels Sprouts bursting with fruit and something listed on the menu as ‘lemon air’’, are nothing short of spectacular. Liquid beads of mozzarella burst in your mouth giving you sensations I promise you have never felt before. Each dish a whole universe in a single bite.
By far the sexiest dining experience in Miami. The tasting menu requires a time commitment of at least two hours and the financial commitment of at least a platinum American Express, but it will take you on an epicurean roller coaster ride you won’t soon forget. On the flip side, August 1 - September 30 is Miami Spice month and The Bazaar is participating. Three courses for around $40. A real South Beach stunner in the heart of all the action, The Bazaar by José Andres is truly a feast fit for the Gods.
- By Food Blogger Darine Machado Crippen
1701 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139