The who: The Mandarin Oriental’s high-end dining outlet Azul recently introduced William Crandall as the new chef de cuisine. Prior to joining Azul, Crandall worked at the acclaimed NoMi restaurant in Chicago under Michelin-starred chef Andrew Zimmerman. Executive pastry chef Frederic Monnet and sommelier Todd Phillips round out the culinary experience.
The space: The dining room décor has been slightly tweaked in conjunction with the new kitchen staff. There are still those same giant windows framing views of the downtown skyline and Biscayne Bay along with white linen-clad tables, hardwood floors and elegant cutlery. The newly remodeled 12-seat chef’s table overlooking the restaurant’s open, white-marble kitchen is great for private parties.
The dishes: Upscale cooking using Asian and French influences. “Beginnings” range from $16 to $30, main courses from $39 to $65.
Starters include crispy sweetbreads with nuac cham, radish, mustard seed and Asian pear, and Steak & Eggs Tartare with wild mushroom, Comté cheese, parsley, garlic bread and 63-degree quail eggs. Crandall puts his stamp on Azul’s specialty tuna poke with the addition of pickled mushrooms, white soy and macadamia nuts. The spiced Carnaroli risotto is a rich mix of sweet Florida shrimp, goat’s milk yogurt and licorice foam.
Mains include Kurobuta pork belly and tenderloin, Maine lobster with peas and truffles, and a play on French bourguignon using veal and grouper cheeks.
A dessert sampler gives tastes of Cherry Bomb, Irish Coffee Cube, Key Lime Clouds, gelato and sorbet.
The Bottom Line: One of the city’s handsomest dining rooms has cuisine to match the setting.