Location: 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 310.246.5555
Date: May 7, 2012
Cuisine: Spanish influenced Molecular Gastronomy
Rating: Awesome, one of LA’s best places.
I’m like a José Andrés groupie. I’ve been to every possible variant of his restaurants in LA, Vegas, and many in Washington. I covered some introduction to The Bazaar in a previous review, but it’d been almost two years so I figured it was time for another review.
Grilled “tomato bread” with spanish Manchego cheese. A snack to start, and popular with my three year-old. Yes, he comes to meals like this. In fact, he’s been to at least four José Andrés restaurants, not to mention a couple Michelin two stars.
“LN2 Caipirinha. Brazilian cachaça, fresh lime and sugar frozen by using Liquid Nitrogen. Tableside service.” 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 this wine from my cellar (I’ve brought it here before). 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.”
Then we have “Spanish olives, traditional” (right). Classic olives with pimentos and anchovy. This is followed (on the left) 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.
“Smoked yellowtail and crispy rice. Yoghurt, grapes, capers, radish.”
“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.
“Japanese taco. Grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron.” These are really good. Some other people at the table wused out so I had to eat three of them. Poor me.
“Organized Caesar. Quail egg, Parmesan.” The classic salad… constructed.
“Sautéed shrimp garlic, guindilla pepper.” In Spain usually called Gambas pilpil. Basically shrimp boiled (fried?) in olive oil and garlic. These were very typical of what I must have had 30 times in southern Spain. The quality of the shrimp here was higher than is often the case at cheap places in Spain.
“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.
The deconstructed “Philly cheese steak” (right) is one of my favorites. The bread is super crispy with liquid cheddar. the beef is wagyu. The vegetarians got “Hilly cheese steak” (left) with mushroom instead of beef. Same cheese.
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 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.
I’ve also been to Saam, the fixed menu back room three times. Overall, I like the front room a tad better. Saam is great, particularly the first time you go, but they don’t change it up that often. Here in front you can really control what you get, and the prices are more reasonable.