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Feb 25, 2014 11:36 PM

SFChowhound Miami Beach report

Hi All!

Wanted to give some quick thoughts. I'd say overall the food and atmosphere was excellent but often the service left something to be desired for the $$$ (somewhat expected for a heavy tourist traffic area).

Dinner @ Meat Market. Food and drinks were tasty nothing unexpected or experimental. Menu options were typical (Tuna tartare, steak, blackened fish, lots of truffle oil and lobster options). Great people watching. Service was friendly but had long gaps where we sat with empty drink glasses, empty water glasses and no food. I remember scanning for the waiter at least three or four times for basic things like trying to order our food, dessert menu, check etc. Meal took 2 1/2 hrs + as a result.

Drinks @ Juvia. Drinks were tasty (typical herbal/muddled fruit concoctions), the rooftop is really gorgeous with very clean lines and lots of glass. We were there on a weekday night, so we were actually able to walk up to the bar, were handed a menu, we ordered our drinks and the whole thing was very pleasant and effortless.

Dinner @ Bazaar. We arrived super early (e.g. 6ish pm) and asked if there was a suggested place for drinks. The hostess suggested drinks at their terrace, so we walked to the back. We stood at the bar for about 10 minutes with no acknowledgment (no nod, no pointing out the drink menus etc.). It was not crowded. We left to grab drinks elsewhere.

We arrived back for dinner a little early for our reservations and are sat promptly. Our waiter was excellent at making recommendations and helped us navigate a rather complex and broad menu. Best dishes of the night:

Sauteed Scallops (perfectly cooked, well caramelized on the outside without being overcooked inside)
Yuca Churros (rich, with enough lime to cut through - interesting)
Baby Japanese Peaches (refreshing and a perfect mix of colors/textures)
Mango dumplings, crab, almond soup ( a really interesting mix where the components taste odd individually, but the bites together were great.

We ordered only once, and it took 2 + hrs to give us all of our dishes. When the last dish came, we asked for a dessert menu and ordered a dessert. The hostess came over and asked if we'd like to take dessert and drinks on the terrace - as is often typical (is it?!?). We said that we'd like to eat and finish dessert at our table, but if we decided to linger we'd be happy to move on to a table on the terrace if they'd keep one open.

At this point the experience went from excellent to one of the worst experiences I've had at this tier. The desserts came and . . . .

1. Our server explicitly apologies and explains they need to turnover the table. Could we move to a table on the terrace and a drink round would be on him?
2. We explained we had bad service on the terrace when we first arrived, and would rather just take the 10 minutes to gulp down coffee and finish dessert, but were willing to roll with it
3. A server comes - takes our coffee and cocktails we'd paid for out to the terrace which is now trendily crowded. We shove our way through and she places our drinks at the bar. The bartender smiles at us (better than last time!) but then disappears.
4. We have to shove to get space, the coffee gets spilled, and it turns out that the bar stool is wet
5. After standing there for another 10 minutes, I finally get the attention of the bartender and explain sweetly that we were promised a table, coffee is now spilled, the bar stool is wet and could we please get moved?
6. The hostess comes out and apologizes about the lack of table, says she can move us back inside the restaurant (!) to a different table, we say yes - we'd like that
7. The hostess never comes back (10 mins later)

We decide to leave and explained to the hostess that the transition at the end left a really bad taste in our mouth and we wanted to let them know about that for the future. She justified what they did by saying "I understand you feel this way but the situation was x, y, z" (not the best response). The manager stopped by and was very pleasant about trying to smooth things over. We explained that we were full, we really didn't need a glass of champagne, but we appreciate the offer.

Without the horrible experience at the end, I'd say unreservedly that even if you've been to other Jose Andres restaurants - Bazaar Miami is unique and worth going to (just avoid the terrace!). I hope that our experience at the end was an anomaly.

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  1. Solid report!

    You took the ending well at Bazaar. I wouldn't have. I would have stayed at that table and not moved a muscle. That's unacceptable.

    Ft. Pierce, FL

    2 Replies
    1. re: LargeLife

      Thanks LargeLife!

      Yes. It's the first time (I believe) that I've ever been asked to move at a high-end restaurant after the meal is in full swing and before the meal is over. The fact that there wasn't open, honest communication so we could make an informed decision (e.g. just ask for the dessert/coffee orders off our bill and leave) made it disastrous.

    2. Interesting since The Bazaar is very well run and has some of the best service on South Beach.

      2 Replies
      1. re: The Chowfather

        Yes. Based on my experience, I think The Bazaar the restaurant was well run, it's their drinks patio outside that is not at all. Now granted, I've never been asked to leave a table before my meal was complete before (and I think for many at this pricepoint that would already be a deal breaker)- but if the transition to the patio was smooth, and we had space to finish our coffees etc. I think it would have all been forgiven.

        But we were hustled out as we ordered dessert, misled and then just dropped into a typical chaotic bar scene and ditched.

        1. re: goldangl95

          All of these classic, common Miami complaints. Low salaries, high tips, uncontrollable turnover, transciency, inconsistency.

          I am local and love it here, but this is another all too typical money, mo' money, sloppy money story that plagues us through development, transit, gentrification conversations. It is inexcusable.

          Ultimately, they too will shoot themselves in the foot. It's why I just hang at Pubbelly and the local spots.