Food Travel America / LAX

Our night at The Bazaar

With so many choices, today’s diners are a fickle bunch.  It can only take 1 mediocre experience for a diner never to return.  That’s especially true for me, when it comes to dining in LA, where I only have 3-4 dinner options per trip.  So after a so-so experience at The Bazaar 2 years ago, what made me have the confidence to not only give it another try, but to also suggest it for a very special dinner out with friends?

I’ve read a lot of very good things about The Bazaar from very trusted sources,   the same trusted sources that have guided me to so many great meals over the years.  I also had a great meal and a good time at Jose Andres’ Jaleo in Las Vegas back in the summer.  So with those 2 thoughts and a lot of good reviews to back me up, I had faith when I made my reservation and I’m glad I went back because the evening was filled with fun and festivity.

The Bazaar is a concept restaurant that I’m not sure I totally understand the concept of.  “Why it’s a Bazaar, of course” is the reason why they seat you in one room for dinner and move you into another for dessert.  “Why it’s a Bazaar, of course” is the reason why they have an area of the restaurant dedicated to very expensive  tchotchkes for sale.  Well, I guess one of those responses makes sense and the other doesn’t.  Whatever it is, you can’t help but be captivated by your experience at the Bazaar; from the elaborately decorated rooms to “there to be seen” LA-ites, there’s not shortage of things to look at.

But none of that has changed since my first visit to the Bazaar 2 years ago, so what made this experience better than the last?  Perhaps the food really was better, but I remember the food being good last time as well.  I believe though, that going with a group of 6 was the key to success, as you have the opportunity to discover the menu.  And because you get to try so many dishes it’s not as disappointing when you get a few “misses”.

The most memorable thing about my first visit to The Bazaar was my cotton candy drink.  It’s not my favourite cocktail in the world, but so fun in its presentation I wanted the others at my table to see it.

“Magic” Mojito

The menu is broken up into traditional and modern tapas.  Many of the modern dishes are filled with molecular gastronomic tricks.  There were some exceptional dishes from both sides of the menu.   I don’t like to grade dishes, but I’m having a hard time deciphering from really good to really really good here, so here’s my thoughts on the dishes we tried, (I’m sure the others around the table may have different opinions on what were hits and misses – Ross? Ken?).

My scale:  A’s=really YUM & I’d order again, B’s = good, C’s = MEH

The A Collection:

Olives – traditional with anchovy and filled with piquillo pepper, modern were liquid spheres that pop in your mouth. (A)

Baby beets w/ Citrus, pistachio, olive oil goat cheese. (A)

Not your everyday Caprésé – Cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella. (A+)

Croquetas de pollo chicken béchamel fritters. (A++) #1 favourite around the table, these nuggets were like a fried chicken pot pie, exactly like a bitterballen from the Netherlands!

Seared scallops romesco sauce. (A) Amidst the elaborate presentations, this was a simply delicious.

Lemon artichokes – Black olive tapenade, dandelion (A)

Braised Wagyu beef cheeks with California citrus (A)

Sea urchin – Avocado, steamed buns. (A+) But I will almost always give anything with uni an A+

Oxtail – Watermelon radish, cilantro, steamed buns. (A)

Sautéed cauliflower “couscous” – Cauliflower purée, harissa, lemon, crispy quinoa. (A) I may be the only one that really liked this one, but I found the textures to be delightful.

Duck liver – Quince, toasted brioche. (A+) Like sea urchin, I’m a sucker for duck liver.

THE GOOD not GREAT:

Pa’amb tomaquet Catalan Style toasted bread, Manchego, tomato. (B) I would have liked this better without the cheese on top.

Japanese taco – Grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron. (B+) The flavours were very good, but there was something missing.

Grilled beef hanger steak piquillo pepper confit (B). Unfortunately this came out with the beef cheeks which were so much better.

THE I’d rather order a second helping of A’s than have this again:

Sautéed shrimp garlic, guindilla pepper. (C) This boring shrimp dish was my least favourite of the night.

Butifarra Senator Moynihan, Catalan pork sausage, white beans, mushrooms. (C) I can’t even remember eating this one, although I know I did.  That says something…

Smoked yellowtail and crispy rice -Yoghurt, grapes, capers, radish. (C) I’ve had so many better versions of this dish before.

Eggplant tempura with honey air. (C) The pieces were too big for the eggplant to be cooked properly and I just didn’t understand the honey air.

At this point in the meal they moved us to the Pâtisserie for dessert.  I have to admit that I was really enjoying the big table in the dining room  and wasn’t that happy about moving to the uncomfortable low seats in the Pâtisserie.  But we had no option but to play along.

Nitro Coconut Floating Island – passionfruit and vanilla.

Creamy chocolate heart – Coffee and cardamom

And just so you understand what I meant by Bazaar, I took a walk over to the “market” portion of the restaurant and here were some of the things for sale:

Thanks Ken & Karen for a great evening!

The Bazzar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel – 465 S La Cienega Blvd, LA

3 thoughts on “Our night at The Bazaar

  1. Was a great time – I agree with the food marks above, except I would move the eggplant up to the B category, and the couscous down to the B category.

  2. Was a great evening and a lot of variety. The cocktails were a nice start and good for taking the edge off. The space is really buzzing with action, atmosphere and definitely a people-watching environment. Overall, it was a great evening. Given the smaller dish sizes, better to come with a fair group of people in order to sample as much as you can. Where I differed with your list above: Beet Salad (C), Lemon artichokes (C), Sea urchin (B), Couscous (C), Duck Liver (B). I agreed that the Japanese taco was a B, and what was missing was…a taco wrap. Other than that, I agree with your reviews. The desserts were really good – especially the lemon tarts. I could that one over and over.

    • I thought it was funny that we didn’t know if we were supposed to eat the paper that surrounded the wrap-less taco! The Bazaar has a afternoon tea that’s supposed to be great. Maybe next year I can drag the girls away from shopping for just a bit to indulge…

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