After our recent dinner at Jaleo in Las Vegas, you could say we're on a bit of a José Andres kick. Our dinner prompted us to wonder what was going on with some of the Chef's restaurants in LA, particularly The Bazaar. What was once the golden child of LA's fine dining scene when it opened in 2009, The Bazaar is still a special-occasion staple, while Saam has been frequently featured on Jonathan Gold's Top 101 list. The restaurant is known for its mix of classic Spanish tapas and the Chef's signature molecular gastronomy, and diners should go with an open mind and sense of adventure. Since it's been quite a few years since I've dined there, I was curious; is it still buzzing? Is the food still has good as I remember? Keep scrolling to find out.
Obviously, we had to start off with a few drinks. Kyle ordered the Salt Air Margarita, which was a classic margarita with a "salt air" (kind of like a salt foam) on top. This gave the drink a nice salty flavor on every sip. I ordered the "Backspin," which was like a honey-infused lemonade. Both drinks were good!
For dinner, we began with the Bagel and Lox cones. The crispy shell was great, while the decadent cream cheese and bursts of salty, fishy salmon roe paired together perfectly. A really fun little amuse bouche.
Next, we ordered the "Not Your Everyday Caprese," which featured cherry tomatoes and liquid mozzarella. The liquid mozzarella looked like normal, plump dollops of cheese, but would burst into a mozzarella-flavored liquid upon eating. A fun, modern take on a classic salad.
The Cotton Candy Foie Gras has been a menu staple since the restaurant opened, and was one of my most memorable and favorite dishes from my first visit. Our waiter instructed us to eat the whole bite all at once, so that the sweet cotton candy would instantly dissolve around the rich, savory foie gras. It was really delicious, and such an interesting and fun combination.
We decided we needed a vegetable dish, so of course we ordered our veggies in fried, tempura form. The eggplant was really tender and juicy, while the tempura batter was light and a bit crispy. With the sweet addition of honey, everything worked really well together.
Up next were the Japanese Tacos. With savory and sweet eel in the middle, the taco was small but satisfying. I also appreciated how the shiso, cucumber, and wasabi added a nice variety to the overall meal's flavor profile.
For something more substantial, we ordered the Oxtail Steamed Buns. The buns themselves were fluffy and nice, while the oxtail was well cooked. The watermelon radish and chili added some bright acid and spice to the dish. They seemed like an unusual choice for the restaurant, but were still really tasty.
Similar to chicken croquetas, the ham croquetas are fun little meaty, cheesy fritters. The addition of the runny quail eggs and roasted red pepper sauce made the overall dish really satisfying and delicious.
Finally, we had to order one of the restaurant's true classics: the Philly Cheesesteak. Made with air bread that instantly dissolves in your mouth, the cheese (which is almost like a foam) instantly oozes out, and when you get a bite with the wagyu, it doesn't get much better than that.
Overall, the meal was really good. The classic dishes-- like the foie gras and Philly Cheesesteak-- were as good as I remember. I would've loved to really try a lot more dishes (as looking back, I think Kyle and I could've ordered a bit more creatively), but alas, the prices are definitely a bit of a hindrance here (that definitely hasn't changed). A filling dinner will probably run diners at least $100/person, leaving the meal a bit out of reach unless for special occasions. In this way, it would be great to see The Bazaar adapt a bit more for the current dining scene (as it still certainly has the food to keep itself on foodies' radars), where great, upscale dinners by superstar Chefs are everywhere, and often don't cost a day's pay. It's great to see The Bazaar still going strong, both in terms of how busy it was and in terms of the food quality.