The concept is about a fluid 'fantasy'-like dining experience, allowing guests to move through uniquely designed spaces that are true visual treats, while tasting traditional and ultra-modern, innovative tapas (small plates allow for a wider range of samplings!) coupled with cocktails that can be theatrical productions in themselves, with dramatic use of liquid nitrogen and other molecular gastronomy wizardry from a cart wheeled tableside - and desserts again both traditional and those with interpretations all their own. And for those so inclined, add the ability to peruse the eclectic retail displays curated by Moss, integrated into the mix.
The Bazaar recently extended their dineLA Restaurant Week to this past Friday (October 29th), and when my friend tipped us off to this - we made reservations immediately for a party of four and left work on time (for once) to meet up there on a weeknight. The $44 dineLA offer featured your choice of one starter and three entrees from the extensive menu of over 40 different tapas, modern and traditional) plus one dessert.
For our four starters, we chose: #1: "Philly Cheesesteak" - airbread, cheddar, Wagyu beef ($8 on regular menu). I had liked the taste of this one from a previous visit - it's every bit as amazing as it sounds, with slices of buttery beef carpaccio layered on top of steaming, fluffy cheese-filled bread.
Catalan pork sausage, white beans and mushrooms ($12 on regular menu). The chicken filling in the croquetas for some reason tasted like tuna, in consistency and flavor, which was not a bad thing - just, interesting.
As the only one at the table who had been to The Bazaar previously, I had to have all the ladies try the piece de resistance - Cotton Candy Foie Gras - even if it was off the dineLA menu and had to be added to the tab (not too bad at $5 per person). You simply can't visit The Bazaar without trying this, just for the experience. In taste, you can definitely have much better foie in their Foie Gras quince and toasted brioche sandwiches (plate of 3 sliders) - but it's the concept and presentation that is an experiment not to miss. Essentially a block of foie gras is served on a stick, with a cloud of cotton candy wound around it. It's supposed to be consumed like an amuse bouche - all in one bite. A little difficult at first to see how the whole cloud would fit, but the candy of course shrinks down on contact. Definitely a conversation piece - and again the taste is not really for foie connoisseurs, but it is fun and interesting to experience the blend of the creamy, dense, savory block of foie with airy, sugary strands of cotton candy.
Back to the mains - we also tried the Jamón Serrano Fermin (not pictured, $16 on regular menu), which was served on two plates with the slices of ham on one, and toasts with a tomato spread on the other. This one was good, but again overshadowed by its more groundbreaking, drama-filled counterparts.
As we finished with the last of our entrees, our fabulous waitress arranged for a table in The Patisserie space, where we were to move to enjoy our desserts (for those who want to stay in the same space, you are offered the option too, but then you would miss out on the whole concept of the place, and the opportunity to experience the awesome, whimsical space).
It was too dark for any photos, so you'll just have to experience this space for yourselves!
So onto dessert - yes, of course I chose the Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with apricots and muscat gelatin ($12 on regular menu)! Each layer was a revelation, with apricot puree (sprinkled with crushed pistachios) sitting atop the creamy panna cotta, which sat on top of jello cubes made with moscato wine. Amazing.
After our meal, it was fun to walk through the designated retail area to the side of The Patisserie, which showcased an eclectic array of goods from the food and travel related, to jewelry and other accessories.
The only thing to note for other budget foodies, is that valet parking at the hotel will run you $12 minimum before tip. If you are very lucky, you might be able to find street parking - but it's simply easier, given the location, to just valet park it.
Although this season's dineLA is over, the good news is that all of the dishes above are still available (though at higher prices from the regular menu), with many, many other exciting options on offer.
If you are looking for a place that will provide a sensory experience like no other in LA - head to The Bazaar. It's perfect for almost every occasion - from a date to girls' night out or happy hour with coworkers (Bar Centro is actually pretty lively, though in a sophisticated way) - to foodies who simply want to celebrate and support culinary creativity, which José Andrés has done an amazing job in demonstrating, is very much alive and well in LA.
I for one can't wait to go back, for any occasion at all (and due to budget constraints, I normally don't repeat visits unless the place is amazing)! It is expensive - but SO worth it.
Updates from subsequent visits:
Not your everyday Caprésé with cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella ($12) - inventive reconstructed version of the classic Italian insalata. Very good, but not as mind blowing as other dishes at The Bazaar.
On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6.5 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 7 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%
The Bazaar by José Andrés
OpenTable: Look for reservations