This is the luxury Mandarin Oriental Miami hotel that looks like one of the world’s most beautiful cruise ships, with a two-floor ‘box’ attached that is restaurants up, and down (the lower level, that spills out on to the terrace, is the fabulous new La Mar by Gaston Acurio). The hotel becomes even more of a buzz during the annual Art Basel Miami, which this year is December 4-7, 2014. As well as lots of parties held here, the hotel will, says the gal, host a pop-up exhibition, The Modern Utopia, original paintings chosen and displayed by Lexing Zhang, who runs Miami’s Art Lexing Gallery.
Modern Utopia will be in the hotel’s imposing, double-height lobby, where the MO Bar has been relocated to a prominent site that sees it turn into a meeting place from morning on. There is something about the MO Bar concept that, well, attracts the best of the best. The first MO Bar I remember is on the ground floor of Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, where local fashionistas and the entertainment crowd gather. This MO Bar similarly acts as a rendezvous for local Brickell Key residents, and Miami and further-afield business. Last night Harvard Business School alumni hosted a networking event there and the noise volume was like a Stock Exchange floor during the Gold Rush. We had gone past the party before taking the 23 stone steps down to La Mar.
Now I wanted to see how this lovely restaurant transformed itself from high-octane dining to peaceful, do not disturb, breakfast. First, as you enter, you are aware, by daylight, of a whole living wall to your right side. Central tables have somehow been pushed together to form two long buffet stations, highighted by gigantic orchid displays. Hot foods are in induction chafing dishes. There are French preserves, and Italian coffee comes in stainless plungers. There are different servers – one team does breakfast and lunch, while another does dinner (they are all hotel-employed, as is chef Diego Oka).
You can opt for a hot dish brought to you, so of course I have to try a Peruvian special, yuca strellada. This turned out to be poached eggs on egg-white scramble, surrounded by slices of pork sausage, small fritters, green drizzle, and it was remarkably good. Remember what I said about how this marvellous luxury hotel is constantly re-inventing itself?