When Bazaar by José Andrés opened in 2008, it immediately made it to my list of restaurants to try. Two years later, I finally made it to the SLS Hotel to experience the much raved about Bazaar. Like many have wrote about, the restaurant has a very heterogeneous feel. With large art works of monkeys throughout the restaurant and a glass case filled with multicolored teddy bears, diners will be surprised at they might see at the restaurant.
There are several themed dining areas in the restaurant and our host seated us in the Rojo Y Blanca room. A very good looking waiter arrived shortly after we sat down to take our drink orders. My dining companion does not drink alcohol and I decided to pass on the cocktails. He left to give us a few minutes to look at the menu and decide. The menu is broken up into two section: traditional and modern tapas. We both decided to order from the modern portion of the menu.
Cotton Candy Foie Gras
5 per person
We started with the much talked about cotton candy foie gras and it did not disappoint. The fluffy cotton candy melted on contact and the sweetness provided a nice contrast to the saltiness and fatness of the foie gras.
Olives modern and traditional
A well dressed gentleman arrived with a glass jar filled with modern olives. He set the jar on our table and scooped out four delicate olive spheres. The modern olives had a soft shell when broken released an intense olive juice that was tasty and playful. The traditional olives were firm and slightly salty. A nice reminder of the texture and flavor of olives in its original form.
Sea Urchin avocado, steamed buns
Each order contained three tiny steamed buns filled with thin slices of avocado and a piece of sea urchin. Unfortunately, the flavor of the sea urchin was lost in the dense and generous portion of steamed buns.
Bunuelos codfish fritters, honey aioli
These cod fritters were light, flavorful and did not taste greasy at all. The honey aioli provided a welcomed sweetness to the fish.
Not your everyday caprese cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella
Definitely not the every day caprese salad and one of the most delicious dishes of the evening. After taking a bite with everyone component of the salad I realized why this restaurant was so beloved. Each ingredient shined and the liquid mozzarella tied everything together.
Japanese Taco grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron
These small tacos were very disappointing and the most regrettable dish of the evening. The flavors were muddled and eel tasted flat. The textures and flavors of this dish just did not work well together.
"Philly Cheesesteak" Air bread, cheddar, waygu beef
Luckily, we ended the evening on a high note with the restaurant's creative version of a Philly cheesesteak. The crispy air bread is filled with cheddar cheese that flows like lava after the first bite. Surprisingly the beef flavor was not lost in this dish. Tender, flavorful, juicy, crispy, rich, creative and fun are just a few words to describe this amazing dish.
Overall, the food at Bazaar was an entertaining adventure with a few distractions along the way. The highlights were the cotton candy foie gras, caprese salad and Philly cheesesteak all of which I would gladly order again on my next visit. The huge downfall of Bazaar is the service. The staff appears to be stretched thin and the kitchen seems to be short of serving plates. For restaurants like Bazaar, service is part of the dining experience and lack there of can really take away from the great food. Several people have since told me that dinner is not the best time to go for good service. It seems that others are experiencing the issue of poor service and hopefully the management at Bazaar can address this. If the stars were based on food alone, it would be much higher.
Inside the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Valet is available for $12 and can be added to the check.