Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove - Lazuli Lounge

Showing off his talent
Welcome to Lazuli Lounge
Ten years ago, on October 8, 2002, the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove, located at 3300 Southwest 27th Avenue, opened its doors for the first time in the historic and lavish neighborhood of Coconut Grove. To commemorate this milestone, they celebrated their 10 year anniversary in signature Ritz style throughout the month, with a series of spectacular promotions including ten dollar 3-course dinners and ten dollar massages, deeply discounted room rates, and an Anniversary Soiree that personified Miami Sophistication with awe-inspiring Cirque Du Soleil flair.

Entertainment at Anniversary Soiree

Outdoor Terrace
Sultry Ambiance

But it wasn't just the 10 year anniversary the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove was celebrating, but also the unveiling of their newly renovated lobby lounge: Lazuli Lounge. Themed after the blue gemstone, Lapis Lazuli, it is the perfect combination of sultry elegance and Bohemian rich design. The lush, waterfront surroundings of the area, and the iconic peacock of Coconut Grove serve as its inspiration, while the hues of blue, violet and green intertwine with the plush, comfortable couches; capturing the essence of the community . Outside, the focal point is the breathtaking cascading fountain, setting the mood for a tropical, romantic evening or an invigorating night out with friends. The ample seating area is complemented by warm fire pits that create an inviting atmosphere.  It is in this very lounge that I set out on my culinary adventure.

Striking Contrast

Sushi Culinary Station
Cigar Rollers

On Thursday nights from 6pm-9pm, Lazuli Lounge comes alive with a different culinary station each week, cigar rollers, specially-priced cocktails, domino trainer, and a fabulous DJ spinning some serious tunes. You know the love affair I have with sushi, so the minute my eyes gazed over to the sushi boat, I knew I was in paradise. The sushi was fresh and the presentation was phenomenal. I grabbed a plate, watched the cigar roller do his thing, and staked out the domino tables, anxiously awaiting the moment I would show off my skills.

Sushi Sushi and more Sushi

Chicken Chorizo Empanadas
Prosciutto and Blueberry Flatbread
In the meantime, I decided to also try some of the regular menu offerings at Lazuli Lounge. The property's restaurant, Bizcaya, is open for breakfast and lunch, while Lazuli offers a spectacular menu in the evenings; complete with small bites and main courses. Sipping my luscious Lychee Martini, I looked over the menu and enjoyed the ambiance. It was a Thursday, I was welcoming the arrival of the weekend, and I was at The Ritz. What more could a girl ask for?  We started off our menu tasting with the Chicken Chorizo Empanadas. They came served with a Yogurt Habanero Sauce that had a subtle kick. The empanadas were warm and flaky and the filling was generous and seasoned well. Next, I saw an interesting dish that caught my attention because I couldn't imagine those particular ingredients coming together. It was the Prosciutto and Blueberry Flatbread. I completely adore the sweet and salty union so I figured, why not? Wow! It was incredible! The thin flatbread was crispy and the explosion of the salty prosciutto combined with the sweetness of the blueberries was intense. The robust flavor of the manchego cheese and the delicate and aromatic taste of the sweet basil stood out in each bite.

Lychee Martini

Shrimp, Beef and Chicken
Mini-Dessert Assortment
Although we had devoured the sushi rolls and two other dishes, we still had room for one more savory treat before we sealed the deal with the sweets. We decided on the Shrimp, Beef and Chicken Quesadillas. Served with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo, the Mexican staples were addicting.  I actually could've eaten the guacamole by itself with a spoon. Much to my delight, Lazuli Lounge offers a variety of mini desserts that you can combine to create your own dessert sampler.  We chose the Chocolate Soup, the Key Lime Mousse and the Classic Creme Brulee. Do I know how to pick them or what? The Chocolate Soup was rich and creamy, while the Key Lime Mousse was light, refreshing and tart. The Creme Brulee had a crisp, sugar crust that contrasted with the silky custard underneath and I loved how the texture was heightened by the berries that sat on top.

We had a fun evening at the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove and I can't wait to return to enjoy more of their culinary stations on Thursday nights. Their new lobby lounge is a wonderful way to unwind, have some interesting conversation, and indulge in delicious food and libations. Oh by the way, my domino partner and I showed our opponents just why women are the best Domino players.

For more information and for pricing on the Thursday night events at Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, you can call 305 644-4680 or visit them online at http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/CoconutGrove. As for the parking during this event, Valet is free with validation.

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