By Pablo Aguilar
La Mar By Gaston Acurio Review
I know it isn’t fair to compare two figures of the culinary caliber of Chefs/ Restaurateurs, Alain Ducasse and Gaston Acurio. They are widely separated by an ocean of culinary history and hospitality idiosyncrasies. However, if this analogy is used as a point of reference to measure things up, I will attempt do it.
Unquestionably they both have earned the place they are today. On one French front: Chef Alain Ducasse and other great French chefs inherited their culinary heritage by default and have refined it. They have turned it into today’s modern French cuisine, kitchen and hospitality.
Today many cuisines have assimilated the so-called “mother of cuisines”, its techniques, and service disciplines into their own. Mr. Ducasse reflects his refined classic French culinary personality on his dishes and restaurants.
On the Peruvian front: besides the historic immigration to Peru throughout the 19th century of Spanish, Basque, African, Japanese, French, British, Italian, Sino Cantonese and French, these cultures produced a diverse culinary combination of four continents. Resulting in what’s today the vibrant and evolving modern Peruvian cuisine.
Mr. Acurio’s food reflects an innate historical fusion with an acquired modern and diverse refined style. Plenty to play with! Nowadays many cuisines are assimilating the so-called “Novo Andino” (New Andean) style, and its techniques into their own. Doing this in order to satisfy new market trends and needs. Peruvian cuisine has become one of the most important driving forces of Peru’s economic development, and also a great source of inspiration for Peruvian themed restaurants in in the U.S.
Mr. Gaston Acurio emerged as the Peruvian universal pioneer Chef who took the initiative at the right time, at the right place, along with other personalities in Peru. They have placed Peruvian gastronomy on the international map with a more educated sense about gastronomy, society, and a clearer culinary definition. He has positively created a culinary revolution. Now that Mr. Acurio has taken the lead in this growing and terrific culinary trend, our best hope is that he and his team are fully ready for the global challenge. As well as being motivated to fulfill his dream of opening 50 or 60 La Mar’s around the U.S., and offering modern Peruvian cuisine in a refined setting to compete with French-style, fine-dining restaurants.
When going the extra mile nothing is impossible, Chef Acurio. Yes, you broke the frontiers, and are already here in the U.S, and remain in Miami. That was a big step. But alas, Chef Acurio, do not forget that here in the U.S., your customer is first, second and third! Service is not only key, but will be your ticket to success. Details, details, details…
Nobody can take away what Chef Acurio has built in his own right; a total adventure and yes, the most unique legacy any world class Chef could possibly dream of. His legacy lives on in his restaurants, and dishes.
While they do have an interesting de rigueur wine list, I still believe they need to source more wines that are related to the Latin American restaurant theme. They have an amazing selection of Pisco sours on the cocktail list. I encourage you to have at least two while there. They are delicious!
Please enjoy your visit at this amazing gastronomic house, while fully savoring it!
La Mar Miami’s
500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami
Prices are a bit high but still within a competitive range. Remember it’s at the Mandarin Oriental but if you are adventurous, you will find great moderate priced combinations between appetizers and other main courses that when paying your bill it will make you feel you weren’t at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
AMBIANCE + DECOR
This exciting setting overlooking the Biscayne Bay and the classic Miami skyline, pairs this restaurant’s contemporary design at the super exclusive Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with blue sea tones and modern yet rustic wooden lines that reflect from the floors, chairs to the tables and staff colorful uniforms, a great tribute to the blue sea and food!!
Having pressure to serve an elegant yet multicultural fare with influences on American, Andean, Japanese and African fares at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel has led Chef Acurio and his team, including Peruvian born with Japanese roots: executive chef Diego Oka to create an extensive menu that could be sometimes overwhelming.
CEBICHE CLASSICO A MUST HAVE!!
Flooded in a traditional leche de tigre marinade, and accompanied by sweet potatoes and choclo/Peruvian corn. This Peruvian style cebiche is the cleanest, purest and simplest to the highest expression of all cebiches.
There are a few techniques to execute a good cebiche and Chef Oka knows them very well, plus he adds up his own style on this amazing cebiche, made with yellowtail snapper, mussels, shrimp, crispy calamari, and rocoto pepper leche de tigre. It’s a great appetizer to try again and again.
GRILLED SWEET BREADS
When looking at this dish I think of a classic or ancient ingredient that is usually served sautéed or stewed in small European towns in France or even Portugal! Then when tasting it, it took me directly to an array mix of delicious spicy flavors ranging from the Peruvian rocoto pepper to the herby and sour Argentinean Chimichurri. The sweet breads were grilled perfectly in unsalted butter that melted in my mouth.
To end your meal, have this Peruvian chocolate mousse, caramelized andes grains, and lucuma fruit bombs.
The selection of Piscos here is impressive and it reflects on its Pisco Peruvian Classics. I had the Piscojito a fabulous blend of citrus) Barsol qebranta, limejuice, savory (Pisco itself) and fruity refreshing flavors from fresh mint and passion fruit. One of the most natural flavored Pisco sours I have tasted…Fabulous.