Food as Art: The Bazaar

Restaurant: The Bazaar

Location: 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 310.246.5555

Date: Oct 30, 2010

Cuisine: Spanish influenced Molecular Gastronomy

Rating: Awesome, one of LA’s best places.

My first exposure to the genius of José Andrés was at Cafe Atlantico in Washington D.C. On an occasional Sunday I’d go with my parents for their Nuevo Latino Dim Sum, which was a ludicrously large prix fix brunch (30 some courses and several hours). I was thrilled when he opened a restaurant in LA. The spectacular result is The Bazaar in the SLS hotel. I’ve been five or six times and the scene alone is great. They  have a number of different rooms and restaurants  grouped together. There is the bar, with cool snacks and molecular cocktails, the scrumptious pataserie, two rooms of the main restaurant, and the secret prix fix only Saam. This meal  was in the main Bazaar. Everything is tapas style, small dishes (about 4 per person) shared by all.

They have all sorts of interesting cocktails, but the signature one is the nitro caprina. Dry ice is used to freeze the rum and lime concoction down without added ice or water.

The result is above. It tastes like a sherbet, with a highly unusual smooth texture, but it’s intensely potent (in terms of proof). Goes down all too easy.

Then I pulled out the first of my wines. The 2007 Laurel. Yum. As I mentioned in my review of Calima this is a fantastic Spanish wine buy. Parker gives it 94 and says, “The 2007 Laurel, a blend of 65% Garnacha and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, is deep purple-colored with a bouquet of wet stone, Asian spices, black cherry compote, and incense. Dense and sweet on the palate with tons of spice, it is super-concentrated, rich, and smooth-textured. Give this lengthy effort 2-3 years of additional cellaring and drink it from 2013 to 2027. Laurel is produced from the young vines of Clos Erasmus as well as from the results of a triage in the vineyard and cellar of the flagship wine.”

Ordering here can involve a bit of planning — not to mention paper and pen.

This first dish is “Sweet potato chips, yogurt, tamarind, star anise.” The crisp chips are used to scoop up the fluffy cool yogurt, which has a pleasing fruit tang.

Then we have “Spanish olives, traditional.” Classic olives with pimentos and anchovy.

This is followed by “Spanish olives, modern.” Pureed olive has been “sphereized.” The flavor is basically the same, but these pop in your mouth to deliver a concentrated burst of olive.

“Embutidos platter, chorizo, lomo, salchichos.” A selection of pig, pig, and pig. The chorizo in particular is intense, although not nearly as much as some of the examples I had in Spain where each bite transported you magically to the barnyard sty.

Served with some grilled “tomato bread.”

“Bagel and lox cone,” is deconstructed and re-interpreted. Cream cheese is paired with Ikura (salmon eggs). Tasty.

Bunuelos, codfish fritters, honey aioli,” these are specular (but hot, right out of the fryer). The sauce gives them an almost Chinese flavor. Fried fish always works.

“Baby beets, citrus, pistachio, goat cheese.” A nice variant on what has become an LA classic.

“Sea scallops, romesco sauce.”

“Brussel sprouts, lemon puree, apricots, grapes, lemon air.” This was a big hit, the sprouts aren’t bitter at all, and have a light cabbage-like texture. The lemon air is the best part, adding a nice zing.

“Jicama wrapped guacamole, micro cilantro, corn chips.” This was really good, vaguely like a caterpillar roll.

“Barramundi, black beans, garlic,” was an incredibly tasty fish. The skin was perfectly crisped, the meat moist.

“Not your everyday caprese, cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella.” This is a near perfect deconstruction of the caprese. The mozzarella balls explode in your mouth, and pair great with the pesto and the little crunchy crackers.

“Seared artichokes with pastrami Saul, La serena cheese with PX reduction.” This wasn’t my favorite. The artichokes seemed a little dry.

The deconstructed “Philly cheese steak” is one of my favorites. The bread is super crispy with liquid parmigiana. the beef is wagyu.

You can see the cheese oozing out.

The vegetarians got this “Hilly cheese steak” with mushroom instead of beef. Same cheese.

“Braised Waygu beef cheeks, California citrus.” This tastes like the best pastrami you’ve ever had, melts in your mouth.

“Catalan spinach, apple, pine-nuts, raisins.”

“Butifarra senator moynihan, Catalan pork sausage, white beans, mushrooms.” The beans were a little dry, but the sausage rocked. This dish reminded me of the equivalent Tuscan sausage and fava beans. I suspect in both cases it hearkens back to the traditional Roman combination of pork sausage served with lentils (over at new years, the lentils symbolizing coins and the wish for wealth in the new year).

At some point we switched up to the 2008 Flor de Pingus, which is even better than the Laurel, deep inky, but silky smooth. Parker gives it 96 saying, “The 2008 Flor de Pingus had been in bottle for 2 weeks when I tasted it. It offers up an enticing nose of smoke, Asian spices, incense, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it displays outstanding volume, intensity, and balance. Rich, dense, and succulent, it has enough structure to evolve for 4-5 years and will offer prime drinking from 2015 to 2028.”

“Lamb loin, Jacques Maximus pistou, trumpet mushrooms.”

My personal favorite along with the cheese steak, “Cotton candy fois lollypop.” The little cube of fois pairs with the sugar like a Sauternes. Oh so yummy.

If that little bit of fois didn’t stop the heart, take a “Fois gras, quince, toasted brioche.” A perfectly put together burger version of the classic pairing.

On Halloween eve, weird costumes abound.

Savory dishes complete, we transferred over to the patisserie for desert. I ordered a glass of this lovely 1927 Pedro Ximenez sherry. I love PX. This one was like sweet motor oil.

“Nitro coconut, floating island, passion-fruit, banana.” I don’t like bananas (had too many with half a bottle of whiskey in ’91), but the nitro island was delicious. Cold, refreshing coconut.

I’m a huge flan fan and this Spanish classic didn’t disappoint.

“Chocolate cupcake.”

“hot chocolate mouse, three layers.” This was good. You gets to inject it with the little syringe of chocolate and the little balls add great texture.

The passion-fruit “Pate des fruits” packed a wonderful wallop of fruit flavor.

Assorted bonbons.

No other restaurant in LA has the combination of ultra modern chic and whimsical playfulness that The Bazaar does — plus everything tastes great and you get to experience an great melange of flavors in one meal. One of these days I need to try Saam and let the chef throw his best at us. I never plan far enough ahead. One note, I ‘ve done The Bazaar’s “set menu” twice, and ordered myself four times. If you know what you are doing doing it yourself is the better way to go, particularly because they don’t mix up their set menu enough. However, if it’s your first visit, letting them handle serves as a fine introduction.

14 comments on “Food as Art: The Bazaar

  1. Lauren says:

    Generally speaking, I can’t say I’ve ever been anywhere close to molecular gastronomy in person (though there was this horrible show on it a while back on some Discovery channel), but after this, I think I can safely say that I’d like to. The desserts in particular look to die for, though maybe that’s my love of passion fruit talking. Once again, I’m madly jealous of your food resources!

    • agavin says:

      I wasn’t able to indulge like this when I was a student either — and in the 80’s American cuisine was still crawling out of the mid-century cesspit. However, you could always gather some friends and go to the patisserie for drinks and deserts. Or force someone at gunpoint to take you to a full on meal for your birthday 🙂

  2. Quora says:

    Where can one find “authentic” Spanish food in Los Angeles?…

    Traditional Spanish is hard to find in LA, although we do have a couple decent Tapas places like Primitivo or Cobras and Matadors. But we also have The Bazaar ( which is pretty bonafid…

  3. […] the stellar Calima (REVIEW HERE), or LA’s — believe it or not — more restrained Bazaar (REVIEW HERE). Modern Spanish was reinvented at El Bulli in the Northeast corner of Spain. As we weren’t […]

  4. […] a couple decent Tapas places like Primitivo or Cobras and Matadors. But we also have The Bazaar ( which is pretty bonafid… […]

  5. […] “Salted Cod Croquettes with Rouille.” These are a traditional Spanish dish (despite the French Tapas claim). They weren’t bad at all, but they weren’t in the same league as The Bazaar’s version (REVIEW HERE). […]

  6. […] been to The Bazaar (REVIEW HERE) about 8-10 times. For the last four or so of these I’ve been trying to get into Saam, which […]

  7. […] degrees, sunny, nice breezes. I had heard that SBE, the food/club group which operates the awesome Bazaar (REVIEW HERE) had bought Gladstones down at the end of Sunset. Now I’d never been too partial to […]

  8. […] sort of cuisine. In LA, the current molecular champ (and there aren’t many contenders) is The Bazaar, and it’s tasting room Saam. This type of cuisine originated in Spain, and you can see some […]

  9. […] here to see more LA dining, or reviews of The Bazaar and Saam (also at the […]

  10. […] implementation of the classic form of the soup. Not quite as good as the Jose Andres variety at The Bazaar/Saam/Tres, but good. I like the fine pureed […]

  11. […] cooking. But you can find some other examples here and in Spain. Calima, La Terraza, his own The Bazaar, Trés, […]

  12. […] a bit of a Jose Andres groupie as not only have I been many times to the The Bazaar (REVIEW HERE), but also to brunch at Trés, and just last week to é by José Andrés and Jaleo in […]

  13. […] here to see more LA dining, or reviews of The Bazaar and Saam (also at the SLS). EmailShareFacebookTwitterMorePrintRedditStumbleUponLinkedInDiggLike […]

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