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Azul Restaurant

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At the end of a long day of intense work, it's not always a bad idea to give the cerebrum a bit of a break and simply to let the senses enjoy an experience worth savoring. Thus, I found myself having dinner for one at Azul when I was lately in Miami.

Despite having to go no further than downstairs from my room in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, it was nearly nine o'clock when I arrived. In need of a break, I opted for the rare dinner on my own instead of finding some opportunity to check in with a client, to build new business, or to network with others. I was shown to my table for one and left with a menu, a wine list, and a copy of Haute Living magazine.

As is thankfully true in many fine restaurants now, a reasonable selection of wine is available by the half-bottle (375mL). I selected the 2004 Ridge “Lytton Springs” Zinfandel. It was served just slightly chilled. The wine had wonderful color in the glass, a deep ruby or purple. Spice expected in a Zinfanel was of course present, but balanced with fruit. This was a wine to savor—each sip had with it a long, delightful finish. The 2004 vintage had 12,000 cases produced, a blend of 79% Zinfandel, 18% Petite Sirah, and 3% Carignane.

For dinner I ordered the Simple Green Salad to start, followed by a Salmon filet—Atlantic Salmon, obviously. I enjoyed the salad, which lived up to its name: spinach, vinagrette, and bleu cheese. I thought that its simplicity brought with it a certain elegance.

I could not help but notice that all around me were smiles. Some were big and warm, others were more reserved and suggested a bit of intrigue. In all cases, they seemed genuine. Clientele, staff, and management were almost uniformly beautiful, well-presented, and possessed of a sense of style that leaned more toward simple elegance than the opulence that could be purchased at a similar cost. I don't recall observing a single ill-mannered (or even un-mannered) person among the group.

Given the delicious salmon that I had for my main course, I'm sure that I had a bit of a smile on my face. The day's tension melting away was no doubt helpful. While observing my environment, I thought that this was a crowd that looked very happy. Upon further reflection, I decided that happiness was probably more elusive, but that in any case, no credible argument could be made against the observation that there was a great deal of pleasure. A very good time was being had by many. It simply felt good to be there: everything was beautiful to see and delicious to taste.

My dessert choice was the chocolate mousse, which exceeded the bounds of "delicious." I had an espresso with it.

As for the service, it was spectacular, on par not just with what I expect out of fine dining, but with the rest of what happens at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. After seeing that I was on my own, the hostess offered me a magazine to go with dinner. After seeing that I was writing in my notebook instead of reading the magazine, she offered me a small, private reading lamp to assist in my studies. (I didn't need it; the soft lighting was appropriate for the environment but no so dim that I required any additional lighting to see my notebook.) Perhaps most impressive of all was that I was addressed by name. The staff in the restaurant and throughout the rest of the hotel—concierge, the front desk, the bellman, and even the IT staff— always knew whom they were addressing.

When at long last the time came to leave, I couldn't help but feel a touch sad to go. Alas, there was more work to be done the next day and at the moment, sleep beckoned.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2007-04-22 09:57 PM
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