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The Early Word on José Andrés' The Bazaar

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The Bazaar by Rolando Diaz

Ever since opening a few weeks ago, The Bazaar has run the gauntlet of hype, love and criticism with diners knocking down the doors of the SLS South Beach to get an early taste of the whimsical and inventive cuisine of José Andrés' Miami kitchen. The buzz continues to grow with the Miami New Times dubbing The Bazaar "Miami's New It Girl." Combining the heavy hype with a massive menu packed with dishes that are far from the traditional, opinions were bound to be all over the map. So far, some diners have had unforgettable experiences, while others were less than thrilled with the smoke and mirrors.

Spectacular News - A yelper advises to "ask for a sheet of paper and pen to help you narrow down your options, keep an open mind, and when in doubt, trust your waiter" when opening the Bazaar's menu which "is like seeing a microwave popcorn bag expand with multiple alluring options." The awe of the presentation "was quite spectacular with oysters revealing after a cloud of smoke dissipates once the bell jar they come in is raised. Various dishes are successfully deconstructed, delivering the magic of construction when assembled at fork - must order the key lime pie." "Some meals are good but this one was memorable." [Yelp]

Priceless News - After some initial disappointment on an earlier trip, blogger The Chowfather's most recent experience of dining on every dish at The Bazaar with Andrés in the house was unsurprisingly memorable. "Spent the past two hours eating & talking food with chef Jose Andres. "We had a great dinner and then the chef invited us to sit at his table while the kitchen brought out every dish on menu." "I doubt I will ever beat this night A +++++++++++++++++++++++" [Twitter/TheChowfather]

Unbuttoning The Pants News - With a lot of anticipation, one yelper was immediately stunned by the decor, finding "your eyes darting all over the room, trying to catch every detail, whether it be the candelabras, the rugs, or the giant chandelier." After being "in awe of the smoke in front of me" during the caipirinha service, the diner found that "everything was so unique and the preparation was top-notch", highlighting "the coconut rice with came out in an actual coconut and I found myself scraping the coconut clean. It was rich but the portion size was perfect, so I didn't get that 'need to unbutton my pants' feeling". [Yelp]

Semi-Good News - Also with expectations building since The Bazaar announcement, yelper Prina found that the "food was good and I was happy with the meal", but admits "that I was expecting better." Rounding up to give the Bazaar 4 out of 5 stars, the highlights of the meal were the cuban sandwich even though it "doesn't warrant the $12 price-tag", conch fritters, scallops, brussel sprouts, and the churrasco. A heavy hand on the salting of a king crab tapa and a "so-so hamachi" dish did not rain on Prima's parade as she remain optimistic, giving The Bazaar "the benefit of the doubt until my next visit". [Yelp]

The OK News - Blogger Food For Thought dropped an early review of the Bazaar on Chowhound grading the dishes, "a couple were excellent, several very good, a couple only OK, and a couple missed". "You may as well try the more creative dishes - and yes, be prepared to splurge, it is not remotely the same price point as popping into a neighborhood tapas bar." At the end of the day, Food For Thought drops some advice to live by: "pretty much anything with uni or foie is going to be good." [Chow]

Sub-par News - Visiting the Bazaar during opening week, blogger Gourmandj was disappointed to see that chef Andrés was nowhere to be found: "Yes, we get it, he is a world-class chef with multiple restaurants and responsibilities, but this was opening week! And if the food would have blown us away, it probably wouldn’t have mattered, but unfortunately it was sub-par." Gourmandj graded the meal: "of the 10 dishes we ordered, one was great, one was very good, and 8 were terrible", highlighting the cod empanadas and the onion soup as positives. Unfortunately, Gourmandj's meal at The Bazaar was the lone negative in what could have been a perfect week for the blogger. [Gourmandj]

Bitch Slapped News - After waiting for a table in the half empty restaurant, one yelper was "abruptly bitch slapped by the overwhelming aroma of foul fish". After finding their table, the diners could not quite appreciate "the new world meets old world concept because nearly every dish was practically floating in foam", so much so that the toro "was so unpleasant that we had to send it back.Toro on its own is incredible and when seared in pork fat, it should be heaven on your palate, not taste like three-day old anchovies." And concerning the help, "the staff appeared too rehearsed, lacked confidence and was eager to close the night." "Much to our chagrin, The Bazaar was a miss on every level." [Yelp]

Disappointing News - A yelper described his experience: "outside of having our server drop some 'entertaining' mad knowledge on us about discerning palettes, the layering of flavors, iberian hogs, and how my scotch had hints of peach and shaved oak, I was pretty disappointed with this place." Furthermore, the tapas' sizes were "borderline insulting" and "the food was truly nothing special after comparing it to some other quality places that I really love." In conclusion, "shame on me for keeping an open mind and buying into this other hotel restaurant concept by a famous Chef." [Yelp]

Pretty Poor News - A poster on Chowhound found that "the classic tapas worked much better than the 'meet the world' side of the menu," with the chicken croquettes and galician oysters being hits. The Miami twist on Andres' air sandwich did not grade as well, instead just "a waste of jamon." Andres' cooking style definitely did not win the diner over, explaining: "maybe we're just jaded with this type of food...where it's supposed to be whimsical and fun it turns out being precious and a little pompous." "You won't find many people criticizing the place because of Andres' stature, but it was pretty poor on our first visit." [Chow]

The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel

1701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 305-674-1701 Visit Website