Mar 2009

The Bazaar by José Andrés – Los Angeles (Beverly Hills)

The Bazaar

As soon as I finished reading S. Irene Virbila’s four-star review in the Los Angeles Times for The Bazaar by José Andrés, I tickled my telly and made a reservation for two the following week. I’ve always had an affinity for the quirky culinary genre of molecular gastronomy (See: Alinea and Snackbar) and was excited to experience L.A.’s hottest Spanish import since Penelope Cruz.

The Bazaar-1

The layout of The Bazaar is unlike any dining space I’ve ever experienced. Designed by Philippe Starck, the restaurant is comprised of several funky venues in one. There are two tapas bars (Blanca and Rojo), Bar Centro, and a pretty in pink Patisserie.

We were seated in the contemporary Blanca room. The abundance of blond wood furniture and creamy vanilla decor seemed fitting for a garden party, but not so much for a night on the town. I yearned for the spicy Rojo room next door.

Upon settling into our table, The Astronomer and I were each presented with two menus—the red one was comprised of classic Spanish tapas (with a modern twist), while the gray one consisted of bold molecular gastronomy creations.


Our lovely-as-can-be waitress advised us to order four tapas each. Our first course was the Japanese Tacos ($10). The name of the dish was much more enticing than what arrived at our table—grilled eel, shiso leaf, cucumber, wasabi, and chicharron. The dish was pleasant, but wasn’t a “revelation” as promised by Ms. Virbila.


The Not Your Everyday Caprese ($12) has emerged as one of The Bazaar’s signature dishes. The cherry tomatoes were plump, juicy, and perfect, while the liquid mozzarella was creamy and delightful. The tomatoes and mozzarella were topped with “air bread” (“hollow crackers” is more fitting), fresh basil, and cracked black pepper. The moment when the smooth mozzarella orbs give in to the pressure of one’s teeth is quite spectacular.

This dish was fun and lively, but the combination of flavors wasn’t as adventurous as I had hoped for. It would’ve been awesome if Andrés had taken a cue from fellow El Bulli alum Grant Achatz and mashed up some unlikely flavors to create something truly extra-ordinary.


The presentation of the Just Shrimp Cocktail “Yeah Right” ($12) was admittedly eye-catching, but the overall taste was a yawn. The worst part of the dish were the small and over-cooked shrimps; they were nothing like the plump jumbo ones I was expecting. Consuming cocktail sauce via pipette was a novel experience, but it couldn’t hide the fact that we were eating inferior shrimps.


The Philly Cheesesteak ($8) marked the transition from cold plates to hot ones. “Air bread,” making its second appearance of the evening, was piped full of oozy cheddar cheese and topped with Wagyu beef. The cheesesteak’s flavors and textures were nothing short of fabulous; definitely one of the stars of The Bazaar.


The foie gras sliders ($12) on brioche buns with quince paste were really, really rich. The quince was too mild to balance the foie overload, but the coarse salt flakes atop the buns were up to the job. Note to self: You do not like foie gras unless it’s in ice cream sandwich form.

The Bazaar-2

The Astronomer was enamored with the sweet potato chips ($10) with yogurt, tamarind, and star anise. I, on the other hand, didn’t come to a four-star restaurant for chips and dip.


The Butifarra—Catalan pork sausage, white beans, mushrooms Senator Moynihan ($9)—was straightforward and tasty. The sausages weren’t anything special, but the texture of the beans had a sear that was outstanding.


Our final dish of the evening was the lamb loin with foraged mushrooms and potato puree ( $14). The only interesting component of this dish was the gelée of natural jus adhering to the lamb. Other than that novel twist, the flavors were fairly ordinary, and the texture of the lamb wasn’t melt-in-your-mouth amazing.

The Bazaar-3

For dessert, we moved from the Blanca room to the Patisserie a few paces away. This change of scenery is a very cool and unique part of The Bazaar dining experience. The Patisserie’s vibe is completely different from the room we were previously in. Carnation pink is the dominant color and everywhere one looks there is literal and figurative eye candy.

The Bazaar-4

The Astronomer and I shared a Nitro Coconut Floating Island ($10) for dessert. A ladle of coconut milk is dipped in liquid nitrogen for one hot minute. The chemical causes a slightly hard shell to form around the exterior, while the innards remain light and foamy. The coconut milk “island” was paired with bananas and passion fruit, which reminded me of the flavors of South East Asia.

The Bazaar1

As we paid our bill, we were treated to chocolate-covered Pop Rocks. I was disappointed to learn from our waiter that the Pop Rocks were purchased from an outside vendor and only covered in chocolate in-house. The best part of the Pop Rocks finale was the look on The Astronomer’s face as he experienced Pop Rocks for the very first time. Priceless, truly priceless.

When it comes to molecular gastronomy, I want wild textures and even wilder flavor pairings. The Bazaar wasn’t nearly bizarre enough.

The Bazaar by José Andrés
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: 310-246-5567

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16 thoughts on “The Bazaar by José Andrés – Los Angeles (Beverly Hills)

  1. Oh, I’m so bummed that you didn’t have a GREAT experience at Bazaar. You note that you were looking for “wild textures and even wilder flavor pairings” and unfortunately you missed a few good ones!

    If you give Bazaar another try, consider ordering the following:

    “Foie Gras Cotton Candy”
    It’s a bite size piece of foie rolled in corn nuts then covered in cotton candy… its creamy, crunchy, salty and sweet in one FUN bite. Photo

    Tuna Toro “Nigiri” with watermelon, jalapeño and a soy sauce foam.

    And definitely the infamous “Dragon’s Breath”
    Caramel popcorn cooked in liquid nitrogen… IF AND WHEN Jose Andres puts it back on the menu (he removed at the end of last week).

    Please tell the Astronomer that, I too love the sweet potato chips and dip. I think the combination of crispy, salty chips and the anise flavor of the tamarind yogurt is perfection.


  2. wow, sounds like a fun spot, I like the concept and wonder about the hydroponic tanks and outdoor terrace. The desserts sound very intriguing – haven’t seen poprocks in quite a while! I’d probably be very happy with just the cheesesteak sandwich.

  3. Jo – I know! I was SO stoked about going here, especially after reading your series of enthusiastic posts. If there’s a next time, I’ll take your ordering advice.

    Foodhoe – The cheesesteak was a delight! Pop Rocks have a wonderfully nostalgic quality about them.

    TikiChick – If you really wanna check it out, I could be sweet talked into returning 😉

  4. o man.. you definitely ordered some of the misses (sweet potato flakes & the lamb) but please try other seafoods next time. That said, the foie sandwich was pretty darn good IMO. I’d love a foie banh mi again sometime this decade.

  5. Thanks, Fiona! My friend Jon actually sent me the same link earlier this week. I agree that the pictures are most excellent. The heaps of praise, on the other hand, I just can’t relate to.

  6. “I, on the other hand, didn’t come to a four-star restaurant for chips and dip.” I believe that you are limiting your food experience on your pretentious preconceptions of what you think a dining experience should be. Go for fun, tasty food in any form that you can get it. Also, there needs to be a stop to this “molecular gastronomy” classification. Would you call eating mayonnaise a “molecular gastronomy” experience? Absolutely not, but there is a chemical process that happens when oil and egg are beaten, it’s the same with the products that are used in “molecular gastronomy”, just new ways in utilizing them.

  7. Mr. Pink – Do explore the rest of the site. As you will see, I’m a very unpretentious eater. Chips and dip, which could have been elevated into something intriguing and fun, fell flat at The Bazaar. Jose Andres is looking to put on a show with his brand of restaurateuring, and these chips and dip were just plain boring.

    If a restaurant classifies itself as “molecular gastronomy,” then molecular gastronomy it is.

  8. You definitely missed out in your choices. I was floored by bazaar – the cod fritters, dragons breath, scallops, veal cheeks, foie gras cotton candy, chicken toqatas (or something like that), hangar steak, and several avocado creations were all astonishing. Unfortunately you didn’t get to experience these. I hope you get a better server next time! I would say it is less adventurous than advertised, as you say, but the quality of the dishes I had more than made up for that. You really must try again – go with someone who had a great experience next time.

  9. There’s some great looking grub on this page. I was out in Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam recently on a furniture business trip and the food out there was out of this world. I was also shocked to see that they eat dog out there!!

  10. Caution!!! – Petty theft is thriving here!!

    I actually used to enjoy coming here mostly for great food. Until the
    night my purse was stolen from my table, by someone who was sitting
    next to us with his group of friends. The security camera was right
    above us. However, management refused to show me the tape, call the
    police asap and try to track this person down via the credit card that
    his table paid with. They were uncooperative and plainly uninterested
    in resolving this issue and in helping me getting my property back —
    my phone with all my contacts, different ID’s, some cash and the keys
    to my place. you can imagine of time and money I now have to spend to
    try and renew all those things, however most of the business contacts
    and information are forever lost. In 30-40 minutes after my property
    was stolen I was forced to raise my voice several times to try to get
    their attention, BEGGING them to call the police so the report can be
    made and show me the tape from the camera. Well, guess what? They did
    call cops, but on ME!! What????!!! Are you kidding me?! I’m the victim
    here, not the criminal!!! In all this time they could have already
    gotten this guys info from his or his friends payment info — it was a
    table of 4 or 5 guys not just one guy, call the police, make the
    report and maybe help young girl who now has to break her door down or
    at least call a locksmith for me, I mean something, right? But, I keep
    forgetting that in the REAL world things are not so simple. So at the
    end I did get that yellow paper that’s called a “police report” in
    which the following was written — Suspect has taken the property and
    fled into unknown direction… I guess folks, that’s all I will ever
    hear.. oh and I was told I was not allowed on premises anymore. I was
    what?? Outraged?! You damn right I was! Wouldn’t you be? and I guess I
    should frame this yellow “glory paper” so it can remind me of the
    “Protect and to serve” bitter sweet sentence.

    Anyway, guys enjoy the food and hold on to your bags and your “rights”
    , but you have to be aware of the fact that the second thing that
    you’re holding on to so tightly is only an illusion…

    Bon Appetit!

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