Location: 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 310.246.5555
Date: June 7, 2018
Cuisine: Spanish influenced Molecular Gastronomy
I’m a bit of a Jose Andres groupie as not only have I been three times to Saam, at least 10 to The Bazaar (REVIEW HERE), but also to brunch at Trés, and even to é by José Andrés (twice) and Jaleo in Vegas and several places in Washington D.C.
For those who don’t know, José Andrés is perhaps America’s leading practitioner of my favorite culinary style: Spanish Molecular Gastronomy. This school of cooking, a radical interpretation of the preparation of food, was begun at El Bulli outside of Barcellona. Andrés cooked and studied there with master chef Ferran Adrià. I first encountered Andrés’s cooking in Washington DC at Cafe Atlantico, and its own restaurant within a restaurant, Minibar.
I’ve eaten molecular a number of times in Spain, for example at Calima and La Terraza. The Bazaar and Saam brought molecular style to LA.
Somni is the “secret” prix fixe only room within the Bazaar, which replaces the previous secret room, Saam. The new one has a format more like é by José André as it’s 10 seats and fairly theatrical. There are two seatings, and a $235 dollar a person (includes tip) tasting menu. They do allow dietary restrictions with advance notice.
Tonight was my wife and her sister’s birthday dinner.
Somni has its own waiting tables out in the lobby before we move on to Somni proper. here they brought us an intro glass of Spanish wine (included).
The former Saam space has been opened up to the Bazaar kitchen, reformatted in lovely pale wood and with a semi-circular bar. It’s much more airy.
The whole kitchen is visible behind the bar. And there is a weird empty void space behind the guests.
The kitchen now merges into the Bazaar kitchen.
Chef de Cuisine Zabala Aitor, hailing from Catalonia and Basque. He worked at El Bulli, Arzak, Aelarre, and ABaC!
The vessels are all exquisite.
The regular menu for tonight.
And the special vegetarian (+ fish) menu — they also did a gluten free version and even printed that one out (not pictured).
Hojita. A nitro frozen cocktail of rum. Delicious and strong.
The first of the middle level of wine pairings.
Almond shell. Looks like almonds, but you pop the whole thing in the mouth and eat it — soft, nutty, and amazing.
Apple floret, cheese & beet. One of these cheese, apple, beet salads served in sponge form.
Chicken skin and foie gras. Pretending to look like corn!
The vegetarian replacement for the foie: coco curry.
Pan con tomate y jamon. Classic toast with tomato pulp and jamon. The toast itself may not have actually been toast.
Caviar & Truffle. Straight up briny goodness.
The vegetarian version was avocado hand.
The next pairing wine.
Spot prawn and that’s it. Pure succulent Santa Barbara spot prawn steamed or sous vide or something. Incredibly fresh and juicy. Sucked out the head!
The veggies got churro and mother mole.
Live scallop with burrata. A lovely and delicious dish. All soft textures.
The next wine.
Croissant (potato based) with a dipping soup.
Pigtail curry bun. You dip it in the curry sauce — incredible. This was an amazing dish.
Strawberry negroni — frozen and alcohol filled intermezzo “cocktail.”
Kohlrabi and snap peas.
The actual peas were inside. Quite lovely. I like the green on green.
The first red.
Fireflies with pil-pil. This is the pil-pil, i think, a web to catch:
These baby squid. Delicious when dipped in the sauce and very interesting.
White asparagus for the veggies.
Alubias y jamon. Sort of beans and ham — but spherized.
A fried something.
Turbot with mushroom tea. It had a BBQ flavor and a texture a bit like eel — very rich and soft.
Here is the “tea.”
Japanese A5 & bone marrow.
With the bone marrow sauce.
Eggplant substitutes for the veggies.
A nice Sauternes for dessert.
“Snowflake”. Under the sugary snowflake was ice cream, macha, and some kind of nut paste?
Black forest pizzelle.
Under the soft chocolate disc was the various black forest ingredients like cherry and Bavarian cream.
Matcha doughnut. Inside was gooey matcha custard that just exploded out! Amazing.
Merienda. A little white chocolate and nut paste sandwich.
This was my wife and her sister’s birthday and so out came the little birthday men.
Overall, the food was amazing at Somni. Much more advanced and “sophisticated” than the early Saam meals which were just Bazaar+. This is much more theatrical and formal, much more in the vein of E or minibar.
Service was excellent. First rate really and very attentive. Wine service was very slick too.
But things ran very smooth and FAST. A touch slower than the first time, maybe 2 hours, but too fast still! Yeah! It should have been 3. Maybe a few more courses. They do this, I assume, so they can comfortably get two seatings in and not be working super late. But it felt a bit rushed.
Because I knew it would be fast I just ordered the wine pairings. They were nice wines and quite interesting — probably didn’t add up that great a value by retail standards, but still a very tasty way to go. They were generous with repouring them during the course.
They said the first time that they change the food fairly rapidly, and roughly 40% did change, but it’s certainly not a total turn over in 3 months.
In our party of 3 we had 3 different meal variations (normal, pescatarian, and pescatarian gluten-free) and (with advance notice) they did a phenomenal job accommodating these with not only custom dish variations but 3 separate printed menus! We were also running late and out at the beach (in shorts) and so arrived in less than perfect dress — but they were totally cool with it (we had called in advance too, but I’m sure they would have been fine either way). Two people at our set came about an hour late. I highly recommend you DON’T do this as it messes up the experience but I could see the staff trying their absolute best to get them as many of the courses they had missed as possible.
The execution was very smooth. I’m surprised this isn’t more popular as they had an open spot or two and we were able to make the reservation a few days out.
For a previous Saam meal, click here.
For a meal and The Bazaar proper, click here.