SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Though my first trip to The Bazaar proved to be a disappointment, subsequent visits have been much more impressive. This latest visit was prompted by visit from my cousin; something of a foodie himself, wanted try a style of food he couldn't easily find back home. The Bazaar was the ideal choice, modernist cuisine aside, the whole experience smacked of douchebaggery that appealed to his sense of conspicuous consumerism.
Sea urchin - Avocado, steamed buns
The freshly steamed bao are filled to the brim with seductively sweet uni and creamy avocado and had that been it, the dish still would have been delicious. The addition of a small sliver of chili really sets things off with just the right amount of burn. My cousin enjoyed these so much that he got a second order and I had to talk him out of a third.
Olives - Modern and traditional
This dish juxtaposes a classic stuffed olive with a liquid version. The true olive has a deeper more nuanced flavor, but the simple salty funk of the liquid olive has more panache.
Sea urchin - pipirrana, Andalusian vegetables
The canned preparation pairs draws out the brinier aspects of the uni. Not quite as rich as the uni bao, I still enjoyed the interaction of the urchin roe with the salsa-like zest of the vegetables
Fermin platter - Assortment of all three, Served with Catalan style toasted bread, tomato
The hams included Serrano, Iberico, and the prized Iberico de Bellota. All three were delicious but the Iberico de Bellota was the clear winner with its glistening oily texture and acorn-fed sweetness. The ham came with a side of toast topped with sweet tomato that was equally delicious on its own or as a countervailing weight to the saltiness of the meat.
Valdeón / Cow and goat - Creamy, sharp blue, DO Valdeón
Murcia al vino / Goat - Semi-soft, sweet and smooth, wine cured rind, DO Murcia
Idiazábal / Sheep - Firm, sharp and wood-smoked, DO Idiazábal
The cheese was a natural pair with the ham. The Murcia al vino and Idiazábal weren't particularly noteworthy, by comparison the savory funk of the Valdeón clearly made the blue the most impressive of the trio. The more robust flavor of the Valdeón also made for a better pair with the jammy quince paste.
Catalan spinach - apple, pine nuts, raisins
Despite its humble ingredients this has consistently been one of my favorite dishes at the Bazaar. The crisp sauteed spinach has a resounding savoriness which contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the apple and raisins; a simple combination but irresistible.
Braised Wagyu beef cheeks - California citrus
Another well-received dish, the cheeks are lusciously tender with rich marbling and a heady beefy sapor. The citrus is perfectly balanced, providing sweet relief without overshadowing the beef.
Grilled Wagyu flank steak - piquillo pepper confit
A much leaner beef than I was expecting but with a rich meaty tang. The texture was a bit tougher than I was expecting but the added fat helped matters somewhat. The piquillo added a fitting smoky accent to the beef while the greens helped balance the dish with a gentle bitterness.
Wild mushroom rice - Idiazábal cheese
This dish is reminiscent of a mushroom risotto, the rice conveys the familiar earthy sapor and pungency of the cheese, but without the creamy weight of a traditional risotto.
Rossejat - paella-style pasta, shrimp
The paella was the only real miss of the night. Though I enjoyed the shellfish tinged brine it was just laid on way too intensely to the point that the noodles were almost inedible. The garlic sauce didn't help matters much by adding even more flavor to something that was already over seasoned.
"Philly cheesesteak" - Air bread, cheddar, Wagyu beef
This has been one of my favorites since tried it when the restaurant first opened. Cracking the toasty crust of the air bread releases the salty smack of cheddar in an intense creamy rush with the beef serving as more of a textural element.
Cotton candy duck liver
Though the name has changed, perhaps to avoid controversy, the dish remains the same: a rich core of foie gras surrounded by a sticky wrapper of cotton candy. This savory sweet adult lollipop got appreciative murmurs all around the table.
Baby Japanese peaches - Di Stefano burrata, hazelnuts, arugula
I've always loved this dish. The tiny green peaches are deceptively sweet while the buratta, nuts, and arugula make for a delightful little salad and a dusting of a little rock salt brings the whole dish together.
Oxtail - Watermelon radish, cilantro, steamed buns
With the party not quite full yet I decided to order another set of the steamed buns that seemed to be so popular. This turned out to be startlingly similar to Chinese braised beef with cilantro and the bao completing the illusion.
Creamy Chocolate Heart - Coffee and cardamom
Despite his adventurousness when it came to savories, my cousin was surprisingly conservative in his dessert choice. Basically a molten chocolate cake with the complimentary zing of the cardamom.
Grapefruit and Olive Oil - Olive oil ice cream, mint and textures of grapefruit
I opted for a lighter dessert. Starting with an enigmatically savory sweet ice cream, the dish adds complexity through a melange of grapefruit and gentle accents of mint.
Three years on, the food at the Bazaar remains solid, a good mix of classic tapas along with the contemporary touches that José Andrés is rightly known for.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills