Review: Villa Azur

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Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Gerard Butler, and I were all at Villa Azur last Thursday night. Coincidence? Unlikely. Leo’s been blowing up my phone.  Not only does Villa Azur put out high quality, authentic French fare, but it oozes luxury, sophistication, and the Parisian “I don’t give a f**k if it’s a weekday, let’s drink champagne. Where’s the DJ?” attitude. The guest list ranged from celebs, models, young couples, and Lea Black-esque women toting their tiny dogs.

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The restaurant itself is exceptionally chic, with romantic, white, tufted couches, crystal chandeliers, and a lush courtyard seating area.  The waiters are so French that you feel like you’re inconviencing them when you place your order.

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Villa Azur boasts a thoughtful cocktail menu.  I had the Spa Garden, with Beluga Noble Vodka, St. Germain, cucumber, watermelon, and lime juice.  The drink super was strong but had a soapy, overly floral taste. Next time, I’ll go with the lychee martini, which was perfectly balanced and drinkable, or the Sage & Pineapple with Don Julio Reposado Tequila and Grand Marnier.

We started with the beef tartar “au couteau” with pesto, parmesan, and topped with a quail egg. Superb.  The beef was extremely tender, had just enough acidity, and, for lack of a less trite phrase, melted in my mouth.  It spread beautifully on the buttered, toasted baguette crostini.

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Next, the burratina with heirloom tomatoes and basil. The cheese was creamy, milky, and tasted extremely fresh.  I recently had some bad burrata (coming in a future review), and this dish was a reminder of just how delicious a good burrata can be.

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For our entrees, we had Dover sole “à la meunière” {not pictured} and sea bass.  Dover sole is delicate, temperamental, paper thin, and flown directly from Europe.  Usually the most expensive item on the menu, this fish is a true luxury and, when cooked correctly, a thing of beauty.  Prepared table-side, our waiter meticulously pulled out the bones, leaving only thin layers of white flesh.  Your heart kind of jumps if you see tiny bits of fish being left behind on the serving tray.  I’ve tasted sole at other French restaurants in Miami and this, to me, was a top contender:  warm, well seasoned, and coated with just enough white wine and butter sauce.

The steamed Sea Bass with aîoli, poached vegetables and herb salad was probably one of the best pieces of sea bass I’ve ever had. French chefs have a seriously unfair disadvantage: an unapologetic use of butter.  However, the sea bass was not oily.  The butter permeated its way into the fish, helping create a crisp crust and infusing the fish with moistness and a sense of richness that only butter can do. I did not want to stop eating it.  The vegetables were cooked to perfection, still crunchy and vibrant.

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As a side, we ordered the aptly-named macaroni with truffles. The creamy macaroni, studded with marble-sized balls of truffles in the Mornay sauce, was so decadent that I only allotted myself a couple spoonfuls. I’m sure you can imagine how that turned out.

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In retrospect, our meal was fantastic. Our glasses were never empty, the food impressed, and the ambiance simultaneously relaxes you and makes you feel like the paparazzi are waiting for you outside.  Exceptional meals in Miami are a rarity.  I’ve been to my share of expensive restaurants, with music far too loud, waiters caring far too little, and food falling far below expectations. Villa Azur is more than just a pretty face.  Its classic, exquisite French cuisine and unbelievably beautiful dining room add it to my go-to list for Miami dining. And just in time for Valentine’s Day…hmmmm.
-Shari

Villa Azur Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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