SLS Brickell recently previewed the Miami Spice menus at the hotel’s two signature restaurants, and New Times was invited to sample the dishes.
Bazaar Mar by José Andrés offers whimsical takes on sea-centric dishes that creatively play with ingredients and presentation. Year after year, its sister restaurant, the Bazaar at SLS South Beach, presents one of the most worthwhile Spice deals by providing an unbeatable sampling of its tapas selection, and for the first time, Bazaar Mar will do the same.
Miami Spice is an almost-too-good-to-be-true chance to try many of the most popular items on Bazaar Mar’s menu for only $39 (Monday through Friday), because a typical meal at this restaurant can easily run $75 or more a head. Choose from nearly three dozen menu items to create your own five-bite sampler of tapas: one starter, three options from the entrée selections, and one dessert. The best way to eat your way through the menu is to invite as many friends as possible and order it all (max eight people to a party).
The California funnel cake is the quintessential example of Bazaar Mar’s whimsy: A seaweed “funnel cake” base is topped with blue crab, avocado, tobiko (flying fish roe), cucumber, and mayo. It's among the options served for Spice dinner.
Po Boy José is a rich and comforting version of a traditional po’boy sandwich, instead served with fried baby squid. The bite-size steamed brioche bun is also layered with a caramelized spread and topped with aioli and pepperoncini, giving the sammie an added kick.
Three oysters served one of four ways are also worth a try. Though we recommend the oysters ceviche dressed with traditional leche de tigre and corn nuts, tequila lovers might enjoy the oysters margarita. Grilled and tempura are also options.
Other popular dishes on the Spice menu are Maine lobster croquetas (fritters of lobster and shrimp with saffron aioli), Neptune’s Pillow (tuna sashimi, spicy tuna, spicy mayo, air bread, and sea lettuce powder), liquid olives (green spherical bites of olive juice — a molecular gastronomy feat), and bagel and lox (bites of Russ & Daughters’ smoked salmon, cream cheese, and pickled onions atop air bread).
It’s easy for Bazaar Mar to steal the spotlight — with its out-of-this-world, under-the-sea-themed menu and blue-and-white decor inspired by the Roman god Neptune — but Fi’lia, an Italian concept from Miami’s most beloved chef/restaurateur, Michael Schwartz, has already proven to be a tried-and-true favorite and is worth a visit during Miami Spice for either dinner or lunch. (The lunch menu is available for $23 Sunday through Thursday afternoons and is the same as the $39 dinner menu.)
At an Italian eatery with Schwartz’s level of quality and attention to detail, guests can expect small but mighty touches like freshly baked bread served with not only olive oil but also herbs snipped from the vine by your server, and caesar salad prepared tableside with freshly girdled croutons and anchovy-infused dressing whipped up right before your eyes. (If the latter were part of the Spice menu, we’d be singing from the rooftops about it.)
Of the starters, the standout is the garlicky romanesco — a beautiful Christmas tree-shaped green vegetable that toes the line between broccoli and cauliflower. Be sure to squeeze some extra lemon juice on the dish to really bring the veggies to life. Meanwhile, the fluffy dough encasing the 'nduja calzone is heavenly, but the filling (pork salami spread) combined with the puttanesca sauce makes for an overly salty combo.
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A simple handmade rotini pasta with a hearty pesto and sun-dried tomato sauce is a must-try. The noodles are perfectly al dente. Do not pass up this dish. Grilled head-on prawns with roasted cauliflower and mash are also delightful.
In addition to the mouthwatering pasta, desserts are also stars. Choose from a gelato bar made with fresh Bing cherry gelato, a crust of chocolate biscotti crumble, and crushed toasted pistachios atop, or goat’s milk panna cotta with summery peaches and a fig balsamic glaze.
Bazaar Mar. 1300 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-615-5859; bazaarmar.com. Miami Spice offered for dinner Monday through Friday.
Fi’lia. 1300 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-239-1359; filiamiami.com. Miami Spice offered for lunch and dinner Sunday through Thursday.