The Fat Duck (Bray, UK)

The Fat Duck
High Street
Bray, Berkshire SL6 2AQ
Dining date: 5/25/12

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I recently attended an extraordinary four-day wedding in India. On the way back, I wanted to capitalize on the fact that I was halfway around the world and stopover somewhere interesting to explore/eat. Options throughout Asia piqued my interest but my friend Shawn proposed that I visit him to spend a couple of days in London with the main reason being to dine at The Fat Duck. He’d been wanting to go but hadn’t had a chance to yet – I didn’t need much convincing.

Opened in 1995, The Fat Duck has become a world-renowned destination (~30 miles outside London), having been bestowed 3 Michelin stars each year since 2004 and being named the best restaurant in the world in 2005 in one particular survey (it consistently held a spot in the top 5 until dropping to #13 in 2012). The chef, Heston Blumenthal, is known for modernist cooking (and a lot of molecular gastronomy) and a wild sense of imagination when it comes to his cuisine. Needless to say, I was very excited for this one – this would be one of those rare meals where I walked in expecting a meal that I would remember for a lifetime. It wouldn’t disappoint.

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The Fat Duck is tasting menu only, around 14 courses for £180. The first thing that came to our table was this trolley filled with cold champagnes. Dining at the Fat Duck seemed like a festive occasion in itself, so we kicked off the meal with a glass.

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AERATED BEET ROOT Horseradish Cream

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The first dish to hit our table was this amuse bouche. Looking kind of like a macaron (and having a texture similar to one), the shell exhibited a strong beet flavor, while a subtle spiciness crept up in the cream.

NITRO POACHED APERITIFS Vodka and Lime Sour, Gin and Tonic, Campari Soda

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Three choices of cocktail aperitifs came next. Some type of powder was frozen tableside with liquid nitrogen, resulting in a light and airy shell that melted once it hit my mouth. I had the campari soda and, indeed, it did taste pretty darn similar to the real thing.

We decided to start with a lighter white and progress to something bolder later in the meal.

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RED CABBAGE GAZPACHO Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream

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The mustard ice cream was the most pronounced flavor in this dish, which was both refreshing and mildly spicy. The red cabbage gazpacho itself was sweet, balancing out the ice cream nicely.

JELLY OF QUAIL, CRAYFISH CREAM Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast

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I had seen a picture of this dish ahead of the meal and was very curious how it all worked; it’s easily one of the most memorable presentations I’ve ever seen, resembling something like a foggy forest floor. Dry ice is hidden under the grass, and a dense fog billows out as water is poured over. Food-wise, we started with a film that we placed on our tongue – the film gave off a smoky/woody essence on the palate. The two main edible components were the truffle toast and layered quail jelly, crayfish cream and chicken liver parfait. An odd combination of ingredients, but they worked well together to make some delicious savory bites.

SNAIL PORRIDGE Iberico Bellota Ham, Shaved Fennel

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The porridge itself was tasty with a rich creaminess. Tender chunks of escargot were a nice pairing too, as were the thin slivers of fennel. I didn’t think the jamon iberico was too pronounced though.

For the next dish, we had the option of the foie gras from the tasting menu or a special scallop dish that day. Three out of the four of us decided to stick with the foie gras.

ROAST FOIE GRAS Barberry, Braised Kombu and Crab Biscuit

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The foie gras itself was cooked perfectly, topped with a sweet fruity topping. It was good, but I thought the flavor profiles were a bit “typical,” especially considering our previous dishes.

Our fourth did really enjoy his scallop, though.

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MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY (c.1850) Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast Sandwich

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Our next dish brought back the whimsy with its tower of sandwiches and a teapot. We were presented with gold pocket watches (presumably the Mad Hatter’s) which were placed into the teapot. We were instructed to stir gently and marveled at how the watch disintegrated and ended up turning the liquid into a sort of rich bouillon. Crazy. A quail egg and some caviar accompanied the delicious soup, which we ate with toast sandwiches….as in, crispy toast in between slices of bread. So cool, and tasty too.

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“SOUND OF THE SEA”

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The assault on our senses continued as a sea shell was brought to our table. A small iPod was in each shell and we listened to sounds of the sea/beach as the next course came. A selection of fresh sashimi including mackerel, halibut and cured abalone were accompanied by tapioca sand and a seawater foam. I can’t say for sure that the sounds elevated the flavors, but this was another fun dish. The fish was good, as was the strong sea flavor of the foam, and I found the texture of the tapioca sand to be addicting.

Given I had flown in from Mumbai this morning (the 7:30 dinner began at midnight Mumbai time), I needed a bit of a pick-me-up. Three espressos definitely did the trick.

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SALMON POACHED IN A LIQUORICE GEL Asparagus, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe

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The poached salmon was cooked rare with a surprisingly subtle liquorice flavor. The salty trout roe and excellent asparagus may have overshadowed the salmon itself.

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POWDERED DUCK (c.1860) Blood Pudding, Umbles and Apache Potato Puree

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Our last savory course involved the restaurant’s namesake ingredient (there had to be some kind of duck served in this meal right?). It was a tasty and succulent piece of duck breast, though the skin was disappointingly a bit limp. I enjoyed the potatoes and blood pudding though, and the duck spring roll was a fun way to present the duck, as well as provide texture.

HOT AND ICED TEA

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An intermezzo of sorts, I was very amused by this one. We were advised to drink this as soon as possible and were awarded with distinct warm and cold liquids. Aside from the playfulness, it was a good cup of tea too.

MACERATED STRAWBERRIES Olive Oil Biscuit, Chamomile, Coriander, Jelly and Ice Cream Cornet

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The first dessert was this creation – an earl grey ice cream cone followed by this macerated strawberry dish. The strawberries were very sweet, balanced by a sort of savory olive oil biscuit. Everything on the plate was edible, including the picnic tablecloth look-a-like.

THE “BFG” Kirsch Ice Cream and the smell of the Black Forest

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We progressed into the richest and final dessert of the evening. The server sprayed the aroma of “Black Forest” into the air just as we began to dig in. I can’t say the aroma consciously did much, but the gateau was a good one, with cherry and alcohol notes working in tandem with the chocolate. Chocolate crumble was crucial too in adding just a bit of crunch.

The cheese course supplement was a relatively reasonable £15 (given it was a generous portion); two in our party decided to partake.

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WHISK(E)Y WINE GUMS

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Next to arrive at the table were these gummies. SO cool! These were gummies of various whiskeys (reminded me of the Haribo happy-cola bottles) from around the world. They packed a punch too, having a strong whiskey flavor…as they should’ve. Maybe I was just pretty full or buzzed, but I had a difficult time distinguishing the nuances between the whiskeys.

“LIKE A KID IN A SWEET SHOP”
AERATED CHOCOLATE Mandarin Jelly
COCONUT BACCY Coconut Infused with an Aroma of Black Cavendish Tobacco
APPLE PIE CARAMEL with an Edible Wrapper
THE QUEEN OF HEARTS she made some tarts..

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Lastly, we were left with a bag of sweets. Of course, these were fun and whimsical too, particularly the pop tart-like Queen of Hearts.

I do not hesitate in saying that this was one of the most (if not the most) unique and imaginative meal I’ve ever had. The creativity, the whimsy and the execution of these plates combined to make something pretty extraordinary. Having said that, when people ask if it’s the best meal I’ve ever eaten I don’t think I can say yes to that. While there were a number of delicious dishes, none of them made me think “this is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.” Still, I thought the meal spanned a wide variety of ingredients and flavors, all of them working pretty well. This was an excellent all-around meal and easily one of the most memorable I’ve had; it’s surely a destination worth visiting when in London.

Full picture set can be found here.

é by Jose Andres (Las Vegas, NV)

é by Jose Andres
The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 3/26/11

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é is Jose Andres’ single-table, eight-person restaurant within a restaurant (Jaleo), serving a 19-course menu similar in format to that of the Saam Room at the Bazaar and Minibar. The menu is strictly product-driven and showcases Andres’ flair for molecular gastronomy.

It’s been on my (and my parents’) radar since word first broke in December – my father’s been wanting to try the Saam Room for a while and hasn’t had the chance; knowing that we’d be in LV, this was a perfect opportunity to try some of Andres’ cuisine.

I’ve never been congratulated by a restaurant for managing to get a reservation. So when the first words I got from é confirming my reservation were “Congratulations, you’ve made it!” I found it a little weird. The email even referred to the meal as a “show,” something I’d typically find off-putting. However, knowing Andres’ flair for the dramatic, I was definitely intrigued. Tickets (literally) to the show are $250 inclusive of alcohol, tax and gratuity.

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The eight seats at the counter circle where the food is prepared, granting the opportunity to see how everything comes together, as well as inviting dialogue about each plate.

Frozen Sangria with Grilled Strawberries

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We started off with this “cocktail” of sorts – sangria frozen with liquid nitrogen. Cool, fruity, refreshing…it was a nice way to start off. The grill really brought out the sweetness of the strawberries, which I thought were very good.

Spanish “Clavel”

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An unusual presentation here – this was a mold of Jose Andres’ hand. Since he wasn’t able to serve us in person, he thought this was the next best thing. A clavel means a carnation (the flower), so it made sense when I saw the flower-looking creation in the hand. A little bit sweet, a little bit floral, and very crispy.

Beet Jewelry

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Designed to look like rings, the natural crimson color of the beet was perfect topped with some gold dust. It was a really crispy, subtly sweet and a little salty. Kind of like a rolled up potato chip, but beets.

Caramelized Pork Rinds

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I thought these were really well-executed, having a texture kind of like puffed rice. Perfectly crispy with a hint of sweetness.

Membrillo and La Serena Cone

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Membrillo is a quince paste, here topped with a sheep’s milk cheese in this cone. The cheese was slightly bitter and contrasted well with the sweetness of the quince.

Apple “Brazo de Gitano”

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Brazo de Gitano is a Spanish dessert consisting of rolled layers of sponge cake and cream. Andres’ interpretation was a really light, dried meringue rolled around a bleu cheese cream. It reminded me of a French macaron – the meringue had the chewy, yielding texture of a macaron shell. A little bit of sweetness from the apple went well with the cheese.

Jose’s Combination: Jose’s Taco and Artichoke with Caviar

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This is actually my third time having Jose’s rendition of the taco (American Wine & Food Festival and Saam Room were the others). It’s so simple – just jamon iberico and caviar. The salty sea flavor of the caviar works so well with the rich ham. The artichoke-caviar combo was a new one for me. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the ham, but it was still good.

Bocata de “Calamares”

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This next dish was inspired by one of Andres’ childhood favorites – a fried squid sandwich. No squid here; instead fried uni (what!) was combined with cucumber, aioli and scallions. I thought this was delicious. The uni was the focal flavor, with a nice crunch from fresh cucumber.

Ajo Blanco

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Ajoblanco is a cold Spanish soup with bread and almonds as key ingredients. Here, a deconstructed version – we were advised to try each component separately then mix and taste. This was my first time having this type of soup, and I found it to be refreshing, with an almond milk type of consistency.

Santa Barbara Spot Prawns with Roses

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The spot prawns were perfectly cooked – sweet, juicy…so good. The rose foam was very subtle and wasn’t quite strong enough to add much in flavor.

Smoky Oysters in Escabeche

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The oysters were encapsulated in a spherification of their own juice and were accompanied with onions and a sweet foam. The dish wasn’t quite as smoky as I thought it would be, but the oysters were a nice burst of flavor, while the onions complemented them well.

Catch of the Day (Turbot)

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Turbot here was topped with citrus juice pearls (kind of like tapioca balls) and accompanied by fermented black garlic. I’ve never had this garlic before – it tasted like raw garlic, though much more subtle. The fish was nicely cooked, and the citrus was key in adding some acidity.

Whole Lobe of Foie Gras Baked in Salt

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Impressive presentation! I often see whole fish cooked in this way, but not foie gras. A whole lobe was cooked encrusted in salt, then topped with sea salt and some type of melon and juice. The foie gras was fantastic – melt-in-mouth tender, rich and buttery. I liked the sweetness of the fruits as well to pair.

Secreto of Iberico Pork

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One of the best pieces of pork I have ever had. The pork here was so well-marbled, it really resembled a sort of toro or wagyu beef. Add to it some black truffles, and this was quite a delicious dish.

Orange Pith Puree La Serena

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This dish had the return of the La Serena cheese, served over orange puree. The creamy, salty cheese worked well with the fresh, vibrant orange flavor.

Frozen Apricot Coulant

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This was an interesting one – I liked the apricot, along with caramel flavors. Upon breaking the shell, an apricot liquid poured out, mixing with the tangy yogurt.

Apples & Red Wine “Fredy Giradet”

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Here we had vanilla ice cream in tandem with apples and red wine spherifications. I thought the flavors really meshed here – the creamy and sweet vanilla ice cream was balanced well with apples and red wine flavors.

25 Second Bizcocho

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This would be the last dish, looking like a miniature version of the Matterhorn. Light and airy, kind of like a sweet sponge cake.

Chocolates

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We finished with a duo of chocolates: a saffron milk chocolate and an aerated dark chocolate. Both were good, but I especially liked the complexity of the saffron chocolate.

Lobster Paella

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Seeing the impressive wood-burning paella pit in the restaurant, we had to try it. Graciously, the restaurant obliged and included a taste of this dish at the end. The rice was cooked very well – al dente with a rich saffron-infused flavor. Generous chunks of lobster were spread throughout, but I found them to be borderline overcooked. Still, a very solid rendition of the dish.

Spanish wines were poured throughout the meal and included 1+1=3 Cava Brut NV, Gutierrez Colosia “Sangre y Trabajadero” Oloroso El Puerto de Santa Maria, Estrella Damm Inedit (Ferran Adria’s beer), Lopez de Heredia “Viña Gravonia” Crianza Blanco Rioja, Guimaro and one other.

In all, I thought this was an excellent meal. I preferred this meal over my two visits to the Saam Room; in terms of the food, the playfulness and excitement was still there, but I thought the food tasted much better at é.

The setting was much more intimate and personal. Being able to see how each dish was put together and to get the story behind each dish was integral to the ‘show.’ Service was top-notch and very accommodating – truly, the goal was to make this as complete and enjoyable of an experience as possible.

Coi – 1/7/11

Coi
373 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133

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Coi is currently San Francisco’s only Michelin two-star restaurant (and one of two in the Bay Area, Manresa being the other). It’s been open since 2006, and somehow neither I nor my parents have yet paid a visit. A large part of it is due to my mother’s negative experience at Daniel Patterson’s former venture Elisabeth Daniel. However, it’s consistently received numerous accolades and is considered one of the best restaurants in the city. It was time for a visit.

The 11-course, $145 tasting menu is the only option available in the dining room (a la carte is available in the lounge). Interestingly, the menu is devoid of any of the usual suspects one might expect to find at a restaurant like this; lobster, foie gras, caviar, and truffles are nowhere to be seen. Instead, the restaurant’s focus is largely on local and seasonal produce of the highest quality. Only 3 of our 12 dishes would contain any meat or fish.

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Bread and butter were both made in-house. The bread came out nice and hot each time – very good. The butter’s presentation was odd; the rough shards lacked the neatness and deliberateness of the rest of the food.

FROZEN MANDARIN SOUR angostura bitters, kumquat, satsuma ice

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This first course was an apertif of sorts. A vodka mandarin gel was topped with satsuma ice. This was slightly salty and slightly tart; the citrus was definitely strong, and some kumquat/satsuma rind added a little bit of texture.

OYSTERS UNDER GLASS marin miyagi oysters, yuzu, rau ram

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Two large oysters were placed underneath this “glass,” which was a yuzu flavored gelee.  The oyster was good, and the citrus (a classic accompaniment) was applied in the form of this gelee, which had a little bit of an almost al dente texture to it. Pretty interesting.

PASTURE beets roasted in hay, fresh cheese, wild sprouts and flowers

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Colorful presentation here. Beets roasted in hay? Hm, never heard that one before. The beets were mixed in with cheese, creating a slightly sweet, yet savory combination. The sprouts provided just a little bit of welcome texture for this interesting and enjoyable dish.

CRAB MELT, CALIFORNIA STYLE steffan’s lardo, wheatgrass

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Next was this California style crab melt. Dungeness crab was placed on a thin, crispy piece of toast with some wheatgrass and pea shoots. The crab was tasty and worked well with the earthiness of the pea shoots and wheatgrass, while the toast added just a bit of crunch. However, we stumbled upon 5 pieces of crab shell within 2 of the portions – definitely a problem; this took away a lot from the enjoyment. Nevertheless, this was a delicious dish.

SUPPLEMENTAL DISH olive oil, brussels sprouts, broccoli, fennel, preserved lemon

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Because of the crab shell error, we were given an extra dish here. If you’re ever indecisive about ordering soup or salad, this might be the dish for you. This was kind of a soup/salad combination – various vegetables were placed in a warm, soup-like vinaigrette. The waiter spoke at length about the quality of this olive oil and how it was the first pressed oil of the year. The bold, fruity flavors of the oil were apparent, and I enjoyed the variety of textures from the vegetables – fresh, clean flavors.

FARM EGG cauliflower, nettle-dandelion salsa verde

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Next up was this dish highlighted by the slow-cooked farm egg. The yolk was beautifully runny and gushed out when broken. It was a tasty egg for sure, and I liked the mini croutons for their texture.

EARTH AND SEA steamed tofu mousseline, mushroom dashi, yuba, fresh seaweed

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The steamed tofu mousseline was topped with a delicious mushroom-dashi broth that screamed ‘umami.’ The tofu mousseline had ginger and lime overtones, and the custard-like consistency was nicely balanced by the pickled radish and slight chewiness of the yuba.

SAVORY CHANTERELLE PORRIDGE crisp root vegetables, cress, sherry

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Best dish of the night. This porridge took on a risotto-like consistency with the bold flavor of chanterelles. Absolutely delicious. The cress added a slightly herbaceous quality, while the crispy root vegetables added texture. Superb.

PRATHER RANCH BEEF potato, coastal grasses, monterey cypress

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This was the lone meat dish of the night. The beef was perfectly cooked, leaving it tender and rather flavorful for tenderloin. I enjoyed the potato puree accompaniment as well as some of the leafy greens; however, the vinaigrette was a little overbearing with the vinegar.

SALAD wild chicories, aged sherry vinaigrette

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We substituted the cheese course for this simple salad. It was fine.

LIME SHERBET frozen yogurt, pomegranate, mint

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This was the first of two desserts. More of a palate cleanser, the lime sherbet was pretty good. I didn’t need the tartness of the frozen yogurt as there was already enough with the lime.

BREAD & CHOCOLATE brioche ice cream, pistachio, tarragon

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The chocolate had good chocolate flavor which paired well with the brioche ice cream and pistachio pudding. The pistachio crumbles were fantastic, adding some nuttiness and texture. The caramelized brioche, like sweet croutons, were another source of texture, and were very good on their own too.

Lastly we were presented with a few petits fours. Pinenut bread with chocolate and firethorn berry jellies were on offer this night. I thought the bread/chocolate combination was a little repetitive given the last course, but the jelly was very good. It had a very supple texture and a gingerish, tangerine-like flavor.

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Coi put together one of the most interesting and unique menus I’ve had in a while. It’s sure to expand horizons and definitely give anyone something they’ve never had before.  For the most part, the dishes were pretty light and “healthy” feeling – I was waiting for something meaty, rich and filling for much of the meal. However, no one left hungry.

The execution of the dishes was spot on, except for the glaring error of the crab shells. Coi is a very different restaurant from Gary Danko, which is what I feel is the most popular choice for “best restaurant in the city.” Coi is much more innovative and produce-based, while Danko is much more comfortable and meat/fish-heavy. Both are good.

Saam Room at the Bazaar – 10/22/10

Saam Room at The Bazaar
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Since opening in late 2008, The Bazaar has received very positive local and national acclaim. The brainchild of renowned chef Jose Andres, it’s been awarded 4 stars by the LA Times and recognized as one of the best new U.S. restaurants by Esquire and Forbes. Adding even more buzz, the restaurant’s opening Chef de Cuisine, Michael Voltaggio, won Top Chef season 6.

The Bazaar is one of the more unique restaurants in the city as many of its dishes are, literally, spectacular.  Using some molecular gastronomy flair, the plates served are unique in preparations and style. This is most evident in The Bazaar’s not-so-secret back dining room – the Saam room. Serving a tasting menu of 20+ courses, this separate dining room showcases some of the restaurant’s most fun and unique dishes.

I’ve been to The Bazaar a few times, and the Saam Room once before. From those visits, my general thoughts were that the food was interesting, though somewhat hit or miss in terms of taste. This meal would prove to be my strongest meal here yet.

The Golden Boy

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The first “course” was this shot of sherry, cava, bitters and gold dust. This tasted similar to Martinelli’s sparkling cider, something I really enjoy. I could have consumed a whole glass of this.

Lotus Root Chip

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Next up – thinly sliced and fried lotus root chips, topped with star anise. The star anise added a rather subtle licorice-like flavor to these chips.

Olive Oil Bonbon

olive oil bonbon 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

Next is a staple on the Saam menu – the olive oil bonbons. A candied shell encapsulates olive oil, making it look like a drop of olive oil suspended in air. I enjoyed the sweetness of the exterior in tandem with the richness of the olive oil.

Bagel & Lox Steam Bun

steam bun 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

This was a variation on the classic bagel combination of a bagel, lox and cream cheese. Instead this was with a steamed bun topped with salmon roe, dill and creme fraiche. Interesting interpretation. All of the flavors were present, though I didn’t think it was anything special.

Tuna Handroll 2009

tuna handroll 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

Liquefied nori, sesame paste, avocado and chopped tuna filled this cone, which was the restaurant’s interpretation of the sushi roll. I actually really liked this, with the crispy cone adding some nice texture to this bite.

Black Olives Ferran Adrià

black olives 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

This dish has evolved a little, from being just “olives” to “black olives,” with the addition of a little squid ink in the spherification. It tasted just like an olive, with a hint of squid ink. It’s a lot of effort just to get the flavor of an olive with squid ink, but I thought this preparation was kind of cool.

Jose’s Combination

jose combo 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

I first had this at this year’s American Wine & Food Festival and loved it. This plate is combining two very decadent ingredients (Jamon Iberico and Spanish caviar) that work well together. The richness of the fatty ham and the salty, briny caviar made a very nice bite. So simple and so delightful.

Pastrami Saul

pastrami saul 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

I appreciated the salty meatiness of the pastrami, wrapped around a crunchy cracker. A little bit less inventive than other dishes, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Buffalo Wing

boneless wing 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

The Bazaar has always had some great boneless chicken wings. Really crispy and moist, these go down easily. I thought the buffalo sauce, while just a small dollop, was very strong and almost overpowering. I kinda wish I could purchase a bucket of these, without the sauce, and watch some weekend football.

Crispy Nigiri

nigiri 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

Here we have shima aji atop puffed rice. The fish was good, though I thought the fish:puffed rice ratio was a bit low. Interesting interpretation of the traditional nigiri.

Chipirones en su Tinta

chipirones 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

Next was a squid dish with a squid ink sauce. Puffed rice (made with squid ink) accompanied the squid, lending the dish a nice crispy texture. The squid was a little chewy, though tender, and was extremely flavorful. I really enjoyed this dish.

Linguini and Clams

linguini clams 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

This was really interesting. Dashi was solidified using agar agar to make a “pasta.” Small bits of mirugai clams were included to complete the dish. The “noodles” tasted like an udon soup – wonderful. The clams were too small to really be noticeable though, but I still enjoyed this dish.

Japanese Baby Peaches

peaches 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

Very sweet Japanese peaches were paired with burrata cheese, hazelnuts, a hazelnut praline and a crouton. The creaminess of the burrata worked well with the sweet peaches, while the crouton and hazelnuts provided some nice texture.

Hot & Cold Foie Soup with Corn

foie soup 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

Here we had a foie gras soup topped with corn foam. I didn’t get a lot of the foie gras flavor here, but the corn was sweet and delightful.

Not Your Everyday Caprese

caprese1 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

One of The Bazaar’s most famous dishes features a marinated cherry tomato, a tomato “heart,”  pesto and a mozzarella spherification. This was a cute and unique presentation, and the flavors were spot on.

Kurobuta Pork Belly

pork1 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

This was the first really meaty dish of the night. The pork belly was pretty lean and tender, and I enjoyed the potatoes which accompanied the pork. The pickled vegetables added some nice acidity.

White Truffle “Risotto”

white truffle 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

We were told that black and seasonal white truffles were an optional supplemental course. Here’s shaved white truffles over Japanese bomba rice, made risotto-like. Wild mushrooms were added into the mix for some additional flavor. Truffles and risotto are a common (and in my opinion somewhat overused) pairing, but it’s hard to go wrong – I enjoyed the earthiness of the truffles and the al dente rice.

Foie Gras Cotton Candy

foie gras candy 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

This was another supplemental dish of cotton candy filled with foie gras. Interesting. I enjoyed the richness of the foie gras paired with the sweet, light cotton candy. Rather unusual, but it worked for me.

Philly Cheesesteak

philly 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

A now-classic dish at the Bazaar is the Philly Cheesesteak. Air bread, cheddar cheese and wagyu beef are combined to make a haute version of the sandwich. I’ve enjoyed this “sandwich” many times, and this was no exception. The beef and cheese meld together very well, with the air bread adding a little bit of body to each bite.

Dragon’s Breath Popcorn

dragon breath1 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

One of the most spectacular dishes is the Dragon’s Breath. A bowl of liquid nitrogen was placed on the table, in which small pieces of caramel popcorn were placed.

dragon breath2 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

The effect of chewing the popcorn was sensational. The liquid nitrogen was so cold that breaths of air turned into ‘smoke’ coming out of your mouth and nostrils. Definitely a fun dish, though this tasted like standard caramel popcorn.

Rose Clementine

rose clementine 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

This was the first dessert of the evening. A clementine sorbet and rose sabayon were paired together. I enjoyed the citrus flavor of the sorbet in tandem with the floral tones of the sabayon. In addition, the light sorbet paired well with the richness of the sabayon quite nicely.

Chocolate Eucalyptus

chocolate eucalyptus 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10


The second dessert featured eucalyptus mint ice cream, peppermint mousse, and chocolate ganache. The mint had a strong flavor – combined with the rich chocolate, it made a great mix. Mmm chocolate and mint. The cookie bits added the necessary texture to complete this dish.

Sexy Little Sweets

sweets 500x335 Saam Room at the Bazaar   10/22/10

Lastly, we finished with the mignardises. We were presented with vanilla and mixed berry gelees, salty dark and vanilla with red peppercorn chocolates, and earl grey, lemon ginger, and saffron chocolate truffles. My favorite was the earl grey with its strong tea flavor, which I liked with the chocolate.

In all, I thought this meal was pretty good. We had some pretty interesting dishes (the linguine with clams, olive oil bonbons, cotton candy foie gras) and nothing was bad. However, I don’t have a desire to return for a while; I think a lot of The Bazaar’s draw is in experiencing some of the novelty and being able to play with your food, and I’ve satisfied that curiosity for now.