TERRY’S PICKY PALATE /A seafood smorgasbord at Azur on Fleming Street
BY TERRY SCHMIDA
Some restaurants just radiate class, and Azur Restaurant, at 425 Grinnell St., is one of them.
With its knowledgeable and cultured staff, delectable food, and exquisite wine list, Azur is rightly regarded as one of the best eateries on the island.
For 11 years now Michael Mosi and Drew Wenzel, both owner/chefs, have been winning new customers and satisfying old ones at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at their Old Town neighborhood restaurant. I’ve been there to eat a couple of times and had memorable, delicious meals, but I was nonetheless pleased as punch to be ordered to visit recently, as part of my job.
Mosi was on hand to greet me and asked me what I thought of fresh seafood, a major part of Azur’s modus operendi.
Upon hearing my answer, in the affirmative, he announced my menu for the evening: Raw Blue Point Oysters, and Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio, both specials that day, and Key West Pink Shrimp, and Pulpo, a signature octopus dish.
“We try to use local seafood wherever we can,” Mosi said. “I’ve been buying my shrimp from the same boat for 11 years, and fish from the same local fishermen and spearfishermen for years as well. Fresh seafood is a big part of what we serve here. We also have a unique breakfast and lunch menu that many of your readers may not be aware of.”
He was right.
After suggesting two wines to sample, a 2015 Conondrum California blend, and a 2015 Hacienda De Arinzano Rose from Pago, Spain, my server, Bob Turk began bringing out the food.
The Blue Points, from Virginia, were simply dressed with a dab of red wine mignonette, and were plump, briny, and delicious.
Next up was the tuna, which rested in low sodium soy sauce, crushed red pepper, chive, a little sea salt, and olio verde, an unfiltered first-pressing olive oil. This was the best raw tuna I’ve ever had, and the imaginative seasoning highlighted the high-quality fish.
The Pulpo, charred confit octopus with za’atar spice managed to hit all my tastebuds at once. It was flavorful, without being too spicy, and had just the right amount of chewiness. Divine!
Lastly, but certainly not leastly, Azur’s take on Key West pink shrimp, with garlic, lemon, and Italian parsley, was simplicity and fresh taste itself. I actually felt separation anxiety after swallowing the last bite.
“We try to highlight the flavors of the seafood,” Mosi said. “Not bury them under heavy sauces.”
With seafood this good, Mosi is right to take this approach.
In fact I’m enjoying being able to relive the experience by writing about it.
Book a reservation today and enjoy making your own memories at Azur!
Azur is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, with brunch on Sundays. Credit cards are accepted. Some free parking is available. For reservations, hours, or more information, cal. 305-292-2787, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.azurkeywest.com