When word got out last night that Azul's Jacob Anaya was leaving for the Brickell area's rustic/modern American OTC Restaurant, we decided to check the Mandarin Oriental's website to see if his name was still associated with the swanky stay's long hailed, Forbes Five Star dining darling whose kitchen previously served as command central for some of So Flo's greatest chefs such as Michelle Bernstein, Clay Conley and Brad Kilgore. Lo and behold, Azul has completely disappeared from the chichi chain's website. We have checked in with the hotel's PR rep, Alexandra Wensley, who has, in the past, asserted that neither Thomas Keller nor anyone of that sort would be taking over the space. We did hear, however, that a different big name chef was eyeing the spot, but again, silence. Turns out, Wensley is out on vacation. We are waiting to hear back from her associate. Another source tells us that, perhaps, Coral Gables gastro-bar Bulla, is taking over the space, but an even louder and more probable rumor is that Gastón Acurio's Peruvian restaurant chain La Mar Cebicheria Peruana with locations in Botoga, Lima, NYC, San Francisco and Sao Paolo, is moving in. Stay tuned.
Update: here's the official word from Mandarin Public Relations Manager Heidi Barfels:
As the hotel is undergoing a refurbishment, we are not taking reservations at Azul at this time. Azul will reopen to external guests at the end of the year. Later this month, we will announce our exciting new restaurant concept replacing Café Sambal, and will be sure to keep you updated.