Restaurant: The Bazaar [1, 2]
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.
The current dinner menu can be found here.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“Smoked yellowtail and crispy rice. Yoghurt, grapes, capers, radish.”
I’m nuts over Jose’s Gazpacho. I’ve even made it from his recipe a number of times at home. The intense sherry vinegar vibe is awesome.
“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.
“Sea urchin and mango spheres.” Interesting texture. Interesting flavor.
“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 cauliflower “couscous”. Cauliflower purée, harissa, lemon, crispy quinoa.”
“Baby beets, citrus, pistachio, goat cheese.” A nice variant on what has become an LA classic.
“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.
“Croquetas de pollo chicken béchamel fritter.” Awesome, I barely caught them before they disappeared. The inside is filled with fluffy béchamel. I love béchamel.
“Grilled Wagyu flank steak piquillo pepper confit.” This tastes like the melts in your mouth steak and peppers.
“Wild mushroom rice Idiazábal cheese.” Nice tangy mushroom risotto.
“Boneless Mary’s Farm chicken wings Spanish green olive purée.” These bits of hearty fried chicken are topped with a blue cheese sauce. They taste like wings, but go down so much easier.
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.
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.
You can see the cheese oozing out.
“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.
“Creamy Chocolate Heart. Coffee and cardamom.”
“Grapefruit and Olive Oil. Olive oil ice cream, mint and textures of grapefruit.” Really bright and fresh.
“Chocolate rice crispy.” There is a hint of peanut butter.
The passion-fruit “Pate des fruits” packed a wonderful wallop of fruit flavor. The others are clementine and berry.
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.
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