Review: Amara Paraisos is Michael Schwartz's Love Letter to Miami - Sun Florida Sentinel South Florida
James Beard's award-winning chef-restaurant Michael Schwartz introduces Amara to Paraiso, his last restaurant serving Latin American cuisine and breathtaking views of the Bay of Biscayne.
Michael Schwartz calls his latest restaurant Amara Paraisos a "love letter to Miami." Despite any suspicions you may have about eating at gentrification, cultural uptake, frightening the rat maze and frighteningly meeting a menu that offers another $ 100 plus a steak ($ 110 in true family-style, 32-ounce, grass-fed rib eye) not to love Amara back.
The view is unbeatable. Latin-inspired food is good. The vibe is welcoming. The kitchen is open, the dining area is light and airy, and the terrace overlooking Biscayne Bay is magnetic. Even in the summer, patrons seem inextricably drawn to the outdoor tables. That water - it shakes and calls. Who cares if a fly needs to be released from the plates from time to time? Pull on a couple of addictive yuca cheese foam ($ 8) and pinch a couple of grilled lamb ribs ($ 21), rub with charcuterie, and liven it up and relax. Overhead lines, a gentle breeze and some T&T from the bar (tequila and Campar cocktail, which is a hybrid margarita and Negroni) keep the mood empty.
It's hard to believe how Schwartz and this downtown Miami area has grown in just over a decade. Schwartz opened Michael's Genuine Food & amp; Drink, a top-notch chef in Philadelphia, located in an undercooked neighborhood. He served crispy pig ears and fried tomorrow's and locally grown produce and won the James Beard Award. This was followed by cutting-edge shops and construction cranes that had not been abandoned.
Neither is Schwartz. Its genuine hospitality group has recently surpassed 500 employees: top-class restaurants in South Florida and the Bahamas, a caterer, cruise ship partnerships and a growing chain of pizza bases that recently opened the outpost of Atlanta. Schwartz, 54, is the reigning Emperor of the Miami food scene and, with Amara, has fully embraced the city's Latin, Hispanic and international jets.
He admits that he had not been reluctant to do so before, but his age and experience give him some freedom. When a stakeholder offered Schwartz the best place in the middle of a massive new Paraiso complex, he took the plunge and started building the restaurant of his dream come true.
Food holds more than its own. New Jersey-based Schwartz and chef Michael Paley, who are renowned for Louisville and Austin restaurants, took ideas and recipes out to Argentina and the area around South Florida. The kitchen has a Florida oak grill and an Argentinian coal-fired Josper stove that burns 800 degrees. Instead of low and slow, Schwartz's cooking philosophy here is hot, with intense heat and swelling that can creep in, but with a deep taste and perfect interior juiciness.
Schwartz and Paley are a couple in northeast England in a city full of Cubans, Central Americans and South Americans. Schwartz said he was preparing for the inevitable backlash from critics of cultural appropriation - those who face whites who eat food belonging to other legacies. But I say that delicious food does not need an apology. This kitchen team (including a chef with Argentinian roots and sous) can do almost everything.
Grilled and roasted meats, seafood and vegetables are mostly great and the additives are shiny, especially the stewed red beans and crunchy cassava ($ 8) and the wooden grilled calabaza coconut pesto ($ 8). Flan ($ 12), which is rich in dulce de leche and creamy without being difficult, is the best recipe that tastes good to me from a Buenos Aires restaurant.
Not every day you see the grilled dessert on the menu ($ 18, veal pancreas and thymus), and they are good quality challenge, sweet and soggy and a bit fibrous. Less adventurous are happy with barbecue pelvis or seafood ($ 99) - a good way for groups to try it out in an array.
My group had a seafood platter. The cobia wrapped in banana leaves was over inflated and the grilled octopus tail tip was a bit too charred for my table mates, but the citrus-tamarind scallops and giant shrimp in the shells were perfect.
Peach and cucumber salad ($ 12) with jalapeno, lime and Spanish Idiazabal cheese was a cool and easy starter for the summer. I was impressed by the less tuna tiradito ($ 16). The fish was pristine, but dampened in basil oil and distinguished by (and fine) pickled cherries that seemed unsuitable for the dish.