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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Bazaar in Beverly Hills, CA

The Bazaar is, well... bizarre.  Jose Andres' restaurant in Beverly Hills, CA is one of the places that you have to try out if you are a foodie.  One of the closest resemblances to this restaurant (of the places I've visited before) would have to be WD~50 in New York.  Being molecular gastronomy, this place actually exceeded WD~50 in terms of uniqueness.  As this is a tapas place as well, we were grateful to have had the opportunity to try out many, many strange things.

Jose Andres' vision of this restaurant is to just have fun with your food.  And you do get that with the adult-carnival theme of this restaurant.   The first thing you notice when walking into The Bazaar are that there are many different "sections" of the restaurant.  It's pretty weird how it's laid out.  There's a lounge area that looks almost like a night club at the same time.  There is the main dining area where you get your main dishes.  There's an almost Alice in Wonderland feel in the dessert area where you sit on small chairs and tables and you feel like you're in a adult version of a game of House.  Then there's the actual "bazaar" area where you can buy random things.  Seriously, random things.   Like those huge bear stuffed animals seen above, along with sunglasses and many other different things.

The first thing that caught my eye was the cotton candy foie gras.  I actually didn't expect this to be good because the aerated foie gras I had at WD~50 was a let down... but this was amazing.  For $5 a stick it's an expensive lollipop but boy was it good...  I was really tempted to get seconds on this.  Foie gras always goes well with sweets, but man... this was so amazing.

Of course the ladies got some veggies.  This fennel plate had some walnuts in it as well as manchego cheese.  Really good... the sherry vinegar made it a bit acidic and the cheese gave it the perfect saltiness.  Nuts are always good for a crunch but walnuts were the perfect choice for this dish.

My dining partners loved the brussel sprouts.  It had lemon air and lemon puree.  It was very lemony and acidic as you can imagine.  I found it too acidic for my tastes, but my other dining partners said it was the best brussel sprouts they've ever had.

We also ordered the jicama wrapped guacamole.  It was kind of a let down as there was nothing superb about it.  It was good guacamole wrapped in jicama.  Nothing really gave me the wow factor that other dishes were able to do.

Bur really, it's never just about the greens for me.  Other appetizers we got included the American caviar cone.  Of course this isn't real salmon or sturgeon caviar, but it was still good.  Unfortunately I got a horrible picture of it, but it was good.  Nice saltiness without that undesired fishiness that you oftentimes get with fish eggs.

My buddy also got the hamachi.  I don't recall what the other ingredients were on this dish to be perfectly honest.  I was mostly focused on the hamachi because it was just so damn good.  Sweet and fresh... how it should be.

The king crab was really good too.  Very beautifully presented.  It had a melody of colors and was served in a small tin can.  I guess my shot kind of missed the crab was I was so focused on the myriad of colors that was in the can... but the crab itself was really good.  Very sweet and succulent... how you'd imagine the crab to be.  Nothing really wow'd me besides the presentation of the dish, but it was really solid.

The Bazaar's version of the Philly cheese steak was awesome too.  Beautifully seared wagyu beef sliced thin topped over a puffed bread that was filled with cream cheese.  Amazing.  I will never see Philly cheesesteaks the same way ever again.

I also got the chicken and bechamel fritters expecting something amazing.  As weird as it sounds, I was pretty disappointed when I realized that I got exactly what I ordered.  I got chicken fritters.  Come on guys... I mean the fritter was probably the best fritter I've had in my life, it's a freakin' fritter at the end of the day.  Whomp.

We ordered something that was called "the ultimate tapas" or something like that.  I'm glad this wasn't the first dish I had.  Because the ultimate tapas was apparently potato salad to these guys.  Was it good?  I guess.  Was it something worthy of the title "ultimate"?  No, definitely not.  Nothing special about this either. Well, except that you didn't know it was a potato salad until you got it.

Their noodles with quail egg and parmasan cheese was so good.  If you're afraid of eating raw egg then don't eat this.  But it was so good.  The umami of that egg the perfectly salty parmasan cheese.  Then those tomatoes... just perfected the dish.  I loved this dish.

Then some of the meat started popping out.  This oxtail bun was really good.  It has a jalapeno slice for the perfect kick.  The oxtail was braised perfectly and those buns were really good.  Nice crusty outside but such a soft and airy inside.

I freaking love wagyu beef.  This piquillo wagyu flank steak was so good.  Tender and juicy.  Beefiness accompanied by a wonderful Spanish sauce.  Did I mention that I love beef?

Veal fits into the beef catagory too.  This beef was good, but the veggies that came with it didn't impress me like the flank stamp combination that they had.The veal loin was to the perfect medium between rare and medium-rare.

After these dishes, we were pretty stuffed.  But we still had dessert.  So they moved us over to the dessert area which I described before.  I thought it was pretty weird to have to pack everything and move to a different table during your meal.  But if that's what they wanted...

Dessert here was wonderful.  Too bad the lighting was even worse at the dessert area so I didn't get good photos of the desserts.  Missing pictures included the warm chocolate and pear.  And let me say that this was surprisingly wonderful.  The chocolate was of high quality and that pear that went with it... so good.  The ice cream sorbet was actually the best dessert we had I felt.  It was so good.  Though every dessert we had that night was good, the sorbet was the best.  They let you choose three flavors and making the right combination is crucial.  Pictured above is the Spanish flan.  It came with some vanilla and a citrus fruit whose name I just cannot think of right now.  Very good.  I've actually never had flan with vanilla so the combination was new and amazing for me.  I've actually rarely eaten flan actually.  So this was a treat.

The Greek yogurt panna cotta was really good too.  This was the best out of about ten shots that I took... barely even made the cut to be honest.  But this was surprisingly really good too.  I've never had panna cotta made from yogurt -- always made from cream/milk.  The apricot flavor was really good.  The texture change (if any) from making this out of yogurt was not noticeable to me... very good dessert as well.

For almost $375 (post tax/tip) for a party of four, it wasn't a bad bargain at all.  We had good food, good company and good memories.  All in all, The Bazaar was a wonderful dining experience.  It's new, exciting, and well... fun.  To be perfectly honest, I thought food at WD ~ 50 was better, but at The Bazaar, it's much more interesting.  Needless to say, this is a highly recommended place for any foodie out there.  Check it out, you'll love it.  After coming here, you can tell your mom that you CAN play with your food!

The Bazaar
465 South La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048