If you are going to Los Angeles, make sure you visit The Bazaar by Jose Andres, a well-known Spanish chef, at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. The Bazaar is a massive space cleverly divided up into:
- Bar Centro (a cocktail bar with high chairs and tables, and comfy lounging sofas);
- Rojo y Blanca: a restaurant that serves traditional and modern Spanish tapas (the modern ones are created using molecular gastronomy techniques);
- Patisserie: a playful space with cute loveseats and pastry displays where, after dinner, you are taken to indulge in decadent pastries.
The Bazaar is designed by Philippe Starck and it is quite possibly the most quirky, amusing and engaging restaurant/bar I have seen in a long time. Here and there you see strange video installations showing famous figures from history whose faces slowly morph into ape faces, gigantic candles designed to look like fancy cakes (available for purchase, over $100), odd bits of furniture sprinkled here and there.
If you reserve a table at the restaurant, I suggest starting out earlier for Bar Centro and hanging out there before dinner. There is a vibrant bar scene where you get to check out the latest designer shoes, bags and outfits worn by the men and women who come to flirt and preen. The bar menu has a vast array of cocktails and small bar bites to get you started.
The restaurant menu is impressive because you rarely get to see such a good selection of typical Spanish (and Catalan) tapas, for example: Pa’amb tomaquet (Catalan style toasted bread, Manchego cheese, tomatoes), Jamon Iberico de bellota Fermin, Escalivada, Rossejat (paella style pasta and shrimp), chipirones in su tinta (baby squid in its own ink). Then there are the modern tapas (using molecular gastronomy technigues) – these are truly divine. The caprese salad is nothing like you’ve ever tasted before (see below).
Instead of just putting some cherry tomatoes and mozzarella au naturel, they did something to the tomato and mozzarella so that they explode in your mouth. The textures are airy and out of this world. We asked our server to describe what they had done and it appears to me that they have something akin to a chemistry lab in the kitchen. Other modern tapas include watermelon tomato skewers, Japanese eggplant with hon-dashi, yogurt and bonito flakes, miso linguini with smoked trout roe, and more.
After dinner, if you are still eager for dessert, the staff will escort you to the other side of the room where the delightful patisserie awaits you. If you are lucky, one of the two-person love seats will still be available and you can indulge in chocolate bon bons, macarons, millefeuilles and other sweet delicacies, followed by espresso.
The service at The Bazaar is impeccable. You are prepared for the worst – a chilly reception and snooty staff – but this is not the case. The staff at The Bazaar go out of their way to help you and to make the experience truly memorable.
Do not miss The Bazaar if you are going to Los Angeles!
The Bazaar by Jose Andres
SLS Hotel Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
+1 310 246 5555