When my invitation to dine at The Bazaar arrived, I admit, I was a bit reluctant to accept. I’ve read extensively about molecular gastronomy and frankly, the concept didn’t wow me. I’m a traditional cook. One who enjoys slow cooking and traditional techniques. On the other hand, I am an adventure seeker especially wherever food is involved. So I accepted the invitation.
In case you don’t know about The Bazaar by Jose Andrés, let me fill you in. The chef, Jose Andrés, is a “culinary innovator” who has gained a measure of fame primarily for bringing both traditional Spanish cuisine and avant-garde Spanish food to our country since he established himself in the D.C. area in 1993. He studied under Ferran Adria, of Catalan descent and founder of the famed El Bulli restaurant in Spain, who was a forerunner in Molecular Gastronomy there. In spite of that though, Adria and Andres both insist that their focus is on deconstructionist foods. That’s a whole other issue though.
Off I went to the SLS Hotel where The Bazaar by Jose Andrés is housed, on the cusp of Beverly Hills within steps of the famous shopping district of Rodeo Drive and bordering Greater Los Angeles. The SLS is one of the premier L.A. hotel sites and well worth the price for a room if you have the latitude that most of us lack to enjoy such pampering.
Let me plug the place for a split second because it earned a degree of admiration that I find lacking in other hotels: It’s a sophisticated environment that personalizes your visit from beginning to end. The hotel has an unparalleled view over a panorama of Beverly Hills with a sixth floor pool that is seductive and comfortable. Yes, I’m paraphrasing because they said it so well. And they are right. They even have two lobbies: one for visitors and restaurant guests and a separate private lobby for hotel guests only. Classy!
So with all that said, let me get right to the food which benefits from a short intro.
The Rojo y Blanca (one of three components of The Bazaar) is a restaurant that mixes the traditions of Spanish cooking with the science of molecular gastronomy. It’s a food fantasy imagined in the mind of the chef, Jose Andrés, and it’s brought to reality on your plate. It’s doesn’t always resemble what you thought you ordered, but it will definitely wow your tastebuds with flavor and texture as well.
To begin, drinks. This one is a liquid nitrogen caipirinha, a sort of nouveau mojito with a theatrical preparation table side. Foam and mist aside, the drink is the equivalent of a slush. Just don’t forget the edible flowers as garnish:
~liquid nitrogen caipirinha~
It’s a horrible place to take photos though, so you’ll need to be understanding. The lighting is dim and romantic and I never employ a flash because I’m considerate of other diners around me, therefore, these are somewhat blurred and out of focus due to the constraints with a hand-held camera and a long lens. Still, the food was spectacular with few exceptions.
~baby beets salad: citrus, pistachio and Sherry dressing over fresh cubed beets.
And the Not Really Caprese Salad of cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella balls and basil pesto that melted in your mouth.
Then the ~lox and bagel cone
~a delicate bagel slice wrapped around briny salmon roe with dill and a filling of creamy cheese
~Tortillas de Patatas, a Warm Potato Foam with slow cooked egg and caramelized onions
The politically incorrect highlight of the evening for me was the Cotton Candy Fois Gras. An icy cold bite of duck fois gras rolled in corn nut crumbs served wrapped in a delicate cotton candy that needed to be eaten immediately upon serving. A burst of flavor unlike any I had previously experienced. A thrill to the senses for sure!
Next we enjoyed the Japanese taco,
~grilled eel, shiso leaves, cucumber, wasabi and chicharron.
An exquisite Jicama wrapped guacamole followed with micro cilantro garnish
Keeping with our Asian leanings we then enjoyed the Watermelon Nigiri
~yellowtail tuna, fresh wasabi, red wine, soy and jalapeño.
For the meat eaters among us, we were served, Not Philly Cheese steak which was an air-filled bread topped with cheese and Kobe beef that melted in your mouth
and Beef hangar steak with piquillo pepper confit and natural jus. Exquisite and seemed to melt in the mouth almost without necessitating any chewing.
The last dish of the dinner was Papas Canarias or “Salty Wrinkled Potatoes” with mojo verde! Ah, there aren’t words enough to pay tribute to this briny root dipped in fresh herb sauce.
Unique to this experience, we moved from the dining room to the dessert area which was a glass enclosed display kitchen providing a variety of sweets, The Patisserie. There our sense were assaulted by an array of desserts from bon bons, to cookies, chocolates, cakes and fruit confections and even some custards too!
We were fairly sated when we moved to the desserts so we chose two to share offering us a sample of what could be if we stopped in some day for tea and dessert only.
The Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta was a definite winner with apricot and Muscat gelatin.
And then we shared the Hot Chocolate Mousse with Pear sorbet.
All in all it was a culinary delight. The negatives must be noted, however. The service was slow and disjointed so be prepared to be patient if you decide the food is worth the stay, which it surely was for us. If they can get the service up to par with the kitchen production, they will have a winning dining experience for all who choose to partake. Surprisingly for the entire meal, it wasn’t as expensive as it seemed it might be. It’s still not for diners who are counting pennies but for a special event it’s affordable and worth the expense, keeping in mind it is theatrical as much as it is a culinary experience.