Jose Andres’ The Bazaar in LA

Truly “The Ultimate Gin & Tonic” ($18): w/ your choice of gin (Distillery N. 209, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Hendrick’s) & Tonic (Fever Tree or Stirrings), loaded w/ edible flowers

I’ve been privileged to savor the wonder that is molecular gastronomy done right, whether it be at Alinea, Baume or even the creativity of Coi. In visiting The Bazaar at the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel, I arrived with tempered expectations but left wowed. From DC/Spanish chef genius, Jose Andres, the meal is a wonderland of inventiveness that never commits the cardinal sin of molecular cooking: all style, no substance (or flavor).

Popping-fresh in your mouth are liquid balls of tomato & mozzarella w/ a drizzle of basil in “Not Your Everyday Caprese” ($12)

One after another, his stellar (if tiny) dishes parade out, adding up to a big bill, though each item may only cost around $10. As opposed to astronomical, fixed price tasting menus at all other molecular restaurants, one of many things I love about The Bazaar is that you order a la carte, even in the bar, as much or as little as you wish. If I lived nearby, I’d try a new bite or two regularly, eventually working my way through the entire menu. This is now my all-around favorite LA restaurant.

Cotton Candy Foie Gras ($5) dissolves to a foie center

The space is stunning, Alice-in-Wonderland eclectic but with a classy bent. It could easily be gimmicky, but it works – and I appreciate getting a ‘show’ in setting as well as food for my money. Moving from the general dining room, through a chic bar to the museum-like dessert area, is all part of a drama that works…

For a cocktail hound like  myself, one of the many joys here is that cocktails are equally inventive: whether it’s a margarita with salt foam instead of a rim (I wish all margaritas could be this balanced: salt permeates, but never dominates, every part) or a liquid nitrogen caipirinha prepared tableside, you’ll experience classic cocktails in ways you’ve never had them before.

Brussels Sprouts ($8) w/ lemon puree, apricots, grapes & lemon air/foam

There is a menu of “traditional” Spanish tapas, including a top-notch Spanish meat and cheese selection, but I stuck to “modern” tapas as this is what you can’t get elsewhere.

Since half the joy here is the work of art inherent in each course, I will let my photos do the talking, urging you to dream of what intense flavors and unexpected tastes could surprise from each plate. Better yet, make sure you visit next time you’re in LA, whether for a couple bites or a full evening extravaganza… bring a sense of adventure and wonder.
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Margarita w/ salt foam & Manhattan w/ liquid cherry sphere ($16)

Light Sweet Potato Chips ($10) w/ Star Anise/Tamarind Yogurt

The Bazaar’s striking space melds modern playful w/ LA elegance

Japanese Tacos ($10) melt w/ the sweetness of grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi w/ the added crisp of chicharonnes on top

Possibly my favorite bite of all: “Philly Cheesesteak” ($8) reinterpreted as an airy bread dissolving in your mouth to a hot, oozing white cheddar fondue center w/ Wagyu beef over the top

Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha prepared tableside from a roving cart was served as a frozen glass of ultra-boozy cachaca w/ lime & edible flowers, dissipating on the tongue

Foreground: brilliant Cesar Salad ($8) rendition as sushi-like roll w/ quail egg on top; Background: Watermelon Yellowtail Nigiri ($12) w/ fresh wasabi, jalapeno, red wine, soy

Soft steamed buns hold King Crab w/ pickled cucumbers ($18 for 3)

Dessert is a mix-and-match extravaganza of choices like bonbons (earl grey, rice crispy), to pate de fruit (saffron w/ edible paper), cookies, pastries, candy (lime fizzy rocks, caramelized sunflower seeds); some fared better than others but the stand-out, besides pate de fruit, was dessert entree ($12): Nitro Coconut Floating Island in passion fruit & vanilla