May 24, 2017
By Carla Torres | February 7, 2017 | Food & Drink
At Bazaar Mar, anchored at the much-buzzed-about SLS Brickell, Chef José Andrés boldly leads his famed eatery into uncharted waters.
Bazaar Mar’s California Seaweed “Funnel Cake”: fried nori “dough” topped with blue crab, salmon roe, cucumber, and avocado.
A mural on the tiled walls tells the story of mermaids, as their mythical king, Neptune, breaks for the horizon on the back of a sea unicorn. Above, the planet Saturn can be spotted amidst clouds. Below, the white marble floor, awash in gray waves, conjures the feeling of being lost at sea—which you might as well be, considering you’ve plunged down José Andrés’s culinary rabbit hole into an oceanic wonderland. While the James Beard Award-winning chef needs no introduction, his résumé and culinary contributions are simply too important to ignore.
A protégé of the legendary Ferran Adrià, Andrés began questioning the fabric of traditional cookery at El Bulli in Spain when he was introduced to spherification, a technique of molecular gastronomy. Today, spherified olives are a staple (and a tribute to Adrià) at every one of Andrés’s Bazaar restaurants, including his latest deep sea dive, Bazaar Mar. It makes perfect sense that coastal Miami is where this culinary scientist decided to drop anchor. “Diners should not expect what they expect,” he says. In other words, assume that the menu at Bazaar Mar will have zilch in common with the offerings at The Bazaar at the SLS South Beach—other than his signature liquid-nitrogen caipirinha, his famed olives, and a freshly sliced leg of Jabugo (the best of Iberian ham).
Instead, you’ll find newly shucked oysters that have received the spherified ceviche treatment, swimming in leche de tigre; bacalao croquetas; and sterling silver octopus vessels carrying a seaweed funnel cake topped with avocado, blue crab, salmon roe, and house-made mayo. Eighty percent of Bazaar Mar’s menu is derived from the ocean, with an emphasis on sustainability—reeling in Key West shrimp, Russ & Daughters smoked salmon from the Pacific for a reinvented bagel and lox air bread, baby squid from Spain whirling in their piquant black ink, and even spear-caught lionfish that Andrés may have actually harvested himself.
“I love to scuba dive and was introduced to these species in the Cayman Islands by Michael Schwartz,” he says, referring to his fellow Miami chef. “[Lionfish] are the rats of the ocean and multiply a lot, so we need to make sure they become a beloved fish people are eating.” That shouldn’t be a problem: At Bazaar Mar, the striking fish (also known as butterfly cod) is fried whole and paired with a tartar sauce that will have you dipping even its bones. While it may take multiple visits to navigate through Bazaar Mar’s vast menu, it’s a deep and delectable dive into the mind of a gastronomic genius—a mind as wild as the larger-than-life bullfish heads that hang in the restaurant, seemingly watching in utter awe as diners spoon pineapple raspado (spiked with green chartreuse and doused in condensed milk) from a crystal pineapple. 1300 S. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-239-1320
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARY JAMES