Our biggest night out was spent at The Bazaar by famed Chef Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. I have been interested in dining here since it opened but with so many amazing restaurants in LA, it took a while before it popped into the rotation.
So this is a Spanish tapas menu themed restaurant with small plates divided into two categories - traditional & modern, the latter being a bit more avaunt garde and therefore, more expensive. The interior of the space is pretty gorgeous and is also divided into two uniquely decorated areas - Rojo ( red ) and Blanco ( white ). The chef and the restaurants designers play with this duality theme quite a bit and it makes for an interesting dining experience.
The wine list is extensive and well crafted , with lots of great Spanish wines of course. We BYO'd a special bottle as is our custom and were a little miffed by the $35 corkage - bit I guess that's LA for you.
Because Mike & Steph love me, they let me order everything, and nothing says love like letting the Chef at the table come up with the master plan. The server suggested four dishes per person but we decided to go for about 10 and see how we felt. We wanted to make sure and save room for dessert, which is an experience all it's own at Bazaar.
So here is the majority of the things we ordered, along with our thoughts on each :
This was the chef's Amuse sent to our table - olives two ways. The skewered olives were stuffed with anchovy & peppers and topped with lemon zest and basil - I adored them but my companions were not too excited. The cylindrical olives on spoons were actually made up of creamy olive oil suspended inside a little pouch, you kind of "shoot" them. The texture turned Steph off, but Mike said it was one of his favorite things we ate. I will never be too jaded to appreciate when a chef sends you an Amuse Bouche, it's very classy and quite nice.
The next course was whimsical and intriguing. A take on the classic Spanish torta de papas - your torta arrives in a shot glass of sorts and you are instructed to mix it together and drink it. There is a tiny edible cracker spoon to help things along. My first impression was that it tasted exactly like something - but I couldn't put my finger on it. It wasn't until later that I realized it was a dead ringer ( flavor wise ) for Jack in the Box bacon & cheddar potato wedges. Yes - I'm admitting that I have had those a few times, and while I'm sure that the Chef would probably cry if he read that - it's pretty much identical. And delicious.
The famous Caprese salad looks pretty ubiquitous, but is in fact a feat of molecular gastronomy. The mozzarella is actually a liquid encapsulated inside the orb, designed to pop when you eat it. The waiter instructs you to take a bit of all three components including the very pungent garlic basil pesto for maximum favor results. I thought it was awesome, and even Mikey who won't eat tomatoes enjoyed it.
Another recommendation from our server from the traditional menu - goat cheese stuffed piquillo peppers. This was tasty but not very exceptional.
Overall our impression of Bazaar was that it was an awesome experience. Some things were a bit more Bizare than Bazaar - but that's what made it fun, and unique. Yes the portions border on the miniscule, and the place is dripping with your usual Hollywood types. The "water menu" featuring no less than 8 types of $11 bottles of water is kind of ridiculous. The food is very good though, and certainly not overrated. We much preferred the modern style tapas to the traditional and would stick to that side of the menu next time. Bazaar has a great ambiance and a one of a kind concept that makes it a must visit I think. The service was also pretty excellent, as is the pacing of the courses. They aren't trying to rush you out. I will say - it's definitely very expensive even by LA standards and so we were quite conservative in our ordering. Perhaps we went out for chicken wings & truffle fries afterwards, but I can't confirm or deny that rumor.