The Bazaar (Los Angeles, CA)
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 10/7/11
Since opening in late 2008, The Bazaar has probably garnered more accolades than any other restaurant in the city. It’s still a very popular restaurant that continues to garner national attention, propelled by the rise in both Spanish cuisine and chef Jose Andres’ popularity. From previous visits, my overall impression is that the entertainment factor of the food is unmatched in LA, but taste-wise it can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes I’ve felt that dishes are more of a ‘show,’ and that the flavors get lost (particularly dishes served in the Saam Room).
I can’t remember how many times I’ve been to The Bazaar, but it’s been a while. DineLA was the impetus behind a return, and I think the DineLA deal was a pretty good one. An extensive list of options from the regular menu were available, and each diner picked one small plate, three medium plates, and one dessert.
“Philly Cheesesteak” Air bread, cheddar, Wagyu beef
There are a number of well-known, “signature” items at The Bazaar (liquid olives, cotton candy foie gras and dragon’s breath come to mind), but this might be my favorite. I’ve gotten this each time I’ve been, and it has never disappointed. The air bread was a hollowed out, crisp “loaf” filled with a light and creamy cheddar cheese. Delicious seared wagyu beef topped it off. All of the flavors of a typical Philly cheesesteak were present, but it’s done in such a playful manner here.
Japanese Taco Grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron
A unique creation to the restaurant, the eel was rich and tasty, complemented by textures from the cucumber and chicharron. The shiso added a little bit of an almost minty flavor, rounding out the bites.
Mussels Olive oil, vinegar, pimentón
Served cold in a tin can, the mussels were doused with olive oil and vinegar. I liked the smoky, peppery pimenton with the mussels, but thought the vinegar’s acidity was overwhelming.
Embutidos platter Chorizo, lomo, salchichon
Embutidos, or Spanish sausages, were served with toasted bread, which was topped with a tomato spread. Nothing particularly special, but it was tasty.
Wild mushroom rice Idiazabal cheese
Surprisingly good, I found the rice to be perfectly cooked, and the dish exhibited a bold, upfront mushroom flavor. Very rich and creamy (basically a risotto), and done well.
Butifarra Senator Moynihan Catalan pork sausage, white beans, mushrooms
The juicy and flavorful sausage was at the center of this dish and it didn’t disappoint. The beans added some extra body – not the most interesting thing on the menu, but the flavors were there.
Boneless chicken wings Green olive purée
A favorite from past visits, I thought the meat was slightly mealy this time. However I liked the breading, light and very crispy, making for a couple of perfect crunchy bites. I didn’t think the green olive puree added too much, but I still enjoyed this.
Sea scallops Romesco sauce
Loved that the scallops were huge; temperature-wise I thought they were cooked well but there could’ve been a better sear. Tasty scallops for sure, but the Spanish flavors of the romesco was what stepped up the flavor a few notches.
Beef hanger steak Piquillo pepper confit
Like the scallops, this dish was another well-cooked protein heightened with some Spanish accents. The piquillos added a welcome sweetness and depth to the beefy flavors of the steak.
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta Apricots and muscat gelatin
Traditional Spanish Flan Vanilla and fruit
Expectantly, the flan was done well. Subtle caramel and vanilla flavors came through in the silky smooth custard with a little bit of a citrus complement from the orange.
I thought this was a good meal and one of the more satisfying meals I’ve had here (maybe due to expectation-management). Not sure if it was just coincidence, but we stuck to dishes that were simpler Spanish flavors and less towards the molecular gastronomy flair. What resulted were more focused flavors and strong execution.
The private Saam Room focuses in on more of the molecular gastronomy in its 20-course tasting. My opinion is to save the dough and bring it to Jose Andres’ Vegas outpost (é by Jose Andres), which is superior in just about every way.
I love this place so much. I am happy to go again and again and again. And I like SAAM. 😉
Haha good to hear. I wil definitely return, but sticking to core Bazaar..
Surprised that you don’t like Saam so much. For us one of the best restaurant in LA. Had recently a great 4.5 hours tasting menu with some of the best service and great food. A lot of use of Modernist Cuisine but not too much in still focused on the flavor of the dishes and not the show.
Maybe just too high expectations? In both of my visits to Saam, I left a little underwhelmed.
i almost came out for dineLA but never made it. definitely a place a want to try eventually!
DineLA would’ve been the perfect opportunity! But yes, you should go soon!