Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Night at The Bazaar

The Bazaar
465 S. La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 247-0400

Last Saturday we visited The Bazaar one more time, at the special request of our friends Y & D. I really enjoyed visiting again because this time I was less overwhelmed by the onslaught of images, media and people watching. I settled in a little more and enjoyed the surroundings.

We arrived a little early to enjoy the bar and sip at a martini. I have been reading some of the reviews and buzz on Chowhound this week in preparation, and several posters have been warning users to beware of the douche factor. Previously, I had seen no evidence of douchiness. However, hanging at the bar I had the pleasure of watching some hotel guests stroll in from the pool, draped in towels and start talking to customers in the bar area. The seemed like they might have been hitting the sauce at the pool. They were escorted from the restaurant.

When our friends arrived, they reminded me that Marcel of Top Chef infamy was now working in the kitchen, and our server kindly escorted them back to say hello and have their photo taken. Additionally, Chef Andres was later walking the room in his chef's jacket and we all got pics with Jose. There was a private Bravo party happening in the well curtained off and body guarded Rojo dining room. You couldn't even walk up to the hole in the curtain and catch a glimpse of Tim, Tom or Padma. How do I know? Don't ask. Is this all maybe a little douchey? Don't care.

One of the first items we had fun trying was a nitro caipirinha. A caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brasil, made from cachaca, sugar and lime. At The Bazaar, they serve them frozen. By using nitrogen to freeze them instead of ice cubes, the drinks don't get watered down. They are an intensely flavorful and boozey frozen beverage. I want to try this at home, but I probably won't. If you see above, the nitrogen evaporates as it freezes the liquid. Wiki tells me that caipirinha is the diminutive of the word caipira, which in Brasil is synonymous with the United States term, "hill-billy". So this drink in Brasil means, literally, "little hill-billy".

We shared the first one between the four of us. Later on the meal, I admit I egged everyone on into another one. This time each couple had their own. Next time, I am not sharing with anyone. These were the kind of cold that makes your tongue stick to the spoon for just an instant. Licking the nitrogen flag pole is not advised.

Like on New Year's, the first item on the agenda were the caviar creme cones. Just as lovely as the first time. I gobbled mine right down, barely tasting it. Next time I need to eat this in slower bites, savoring the creme and the caviar, the crunch of the cone.

We all knew we wanted the Philly Cheese Steak. An even more intriguing pic of this can be found here.

The above rare Wagyu beef sits atop a pillow of "air" bread that hollows out when it bakes and is filled with melted lite creamy cheese. It is delicious. The bread is crisp and almost cracker like, just a little moist. The beef is sliced thin, but not too thin and is still warm. The cheese is beautiful.

We were all intrigued to try the caprese with spherified mozzarella cheese. Now, why it is necessary to spherify a cheese that is sold already in a sphere I do not know. I assume it is simply for the joy of play. The tomatoes were thoughtfully skinned and easy to eat in one gulp. I think it was at this moment that Mr. Andres came out and chided me for not eating the cherry tomato and cheese sphere in one bite.

I may talk too often and too loudly, but my mouth is not big enough to fit both of those balls in at once. *chuckle*

I hadn't even noticed this charming item on the menu, and I would definitely have passed it by had Y & D not jumped at it. They had been here previously, nomming at the bar. This might have been one of the things they tasted that time. They seemed familiar with it. This is called Tortilla de Patates "new way", on the menu.

It is potato foam, with egg, caramelized onion, chives and bacon bits on top served warm and liquid in an egg shell. This was crazy delicious.

The presentation didn't hurt either. I had to really explore the presentation. I ate my tortilla patates then turned the slate base upside down so I could look at how the egg shell was affixed to the slate. It looked like someone had spray painted the egg shells metallic silver, then hot glued them to the slate. I picked at my egg shell a little.

The shell was quite breakable, as real egg shells are. I am glad this was a disposable container, because I purposefully broke it. I am assuming the metallic paint is lead-free.

At neither of our previous visits to The Bazaar have we ordered the scallops for D, which is bizarre. Lovely sea scallops seared and sitting on a thick bed of Romesco sauce and olive oil. Very nice.

Last time they were here, Y & D definitely ordered the foie gras cotton candy, and this time they wanted to try the foie gras sliders on brioche with quince. I thought they were good, but I didn't flip for them. The foie was cool, and I think the flavor of the foie would have been better presented (it is the key ingredient) had it been served warm. It just fell flat for me, which is a shame when treating yourself to foie gras.

I have to admit that by this point I was full. It would have been the perfect place to stop eating. Did we stop eating? Hay-yell no! Y ordered the pisto, a warm vegetable stew with tomatoes and an egg. I tasted and saw eggplant (my fave) tomatoes, red bell peppers, most likely pasilla peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and flower petals.

The stew was served warm with a raw egg on top and the server stirred the stew at the table to cook the egg. It was delicious. This is brunch fodder I could get on board with. (The fact that I am not a breakfast fan being common knowledge, to me anyway.)

Out marches the salmon. This must be a new dish because it is not on the menu. It came out under a dish, still smoking. As our server lifted the dish the beautiful smoke wafted around the table.

It was a generous piece of translucent smoked salmon with deconstructed tatziki...small puddles of yogurt and cubes of cucumber. The taste was nowhere near as dramatic as the presentation, but it was good.

Because we had eaten here a couple times, we let Y & D take lead in the ordering, but at the end D and I decided to add a few items we always want when we dine at The Bazaar. I wanted the miso fettuccine with salmon roe. I am not sure this was to everyone's taste. No one else exclaimed over its amazingness. Nevertheless, my mouth was happy. I love the miso-eyness of this, the light coolness of the fettuccine and the salty roe popping in the corner of my mouth.

Naturally D wanted the tomato and watermelon skewers. Last time we were here he ate two plates of these on his own. The little brown spots are a Pedro Ximinez (a sherry) reduction. Y exclaimed at the tomato on top of the watermelon. She was watching another table eat these earlier in the evening and couldn't believe the tomatoes weren't some kind of caviar. Andres really takes just the juicy soft slippery heart of the tomato and skewers it to those seedless watermelon squares. So refreshing.

The above really disappointed me. It is called Rossejat, or paella style pasta. It is a little like a fideo in the sense that the pasta is cooked til it is crunchy. There were a few shrimp across the top, as you can see. Neither the flavor not the texture thrilled me. Meh.

Because we were with guests, I allowed myself to be swayed by dessert and coffee. The coffee was fantastic and brewed in your individual cup. Y and I were a little miffed that we only got one small cup of coffee for $4. And although pinching pennies over coffee at the end of such an amazing meal might seem strange, let me explain. First off: the meal was not as expensive as you think it might have been, and second: well, so what? I love the little containers the cream and sugar came in. I should have brought a bigger handbag.

Y ordered the bread pudding for D. It is his favorite. I had a nibble and liked the nutty and rich flavor of this, but it was too heavy for me to taste it properly. I would have burst.

My D wanted the Hot Chocolate Mousse, natch. It was served with some delicious sweet pear sorbet. Strangely, this is not served hot. So clearly they are referencing hot chocolate the drink rather than selling chocolate mousse served hot. It was good enough.

This.was.delicious. Greek yogurt panna cotta with apricots and muscat gelatin. All these layers! All these textures. In a little insulated glass. With pistachio dust on top. A beautiful dessert, with some clinging sweetness but light textures...each layer a little different but also kind of the same. Mmm.

If you haven't been yet, at least stop in to The Bazaar, sit at one of the bars and nibble at a couple items on the menu. It won't set you back too much and this is an experience not to be missed right in your own front yard (if you live in LA). You can even come in wearing a swimsuit and a towel, get your pic taken with a celebrity and spy on the private Bravo party eating in the back room.


the woolly monkey said...

can you take me out to eat with you please?


sygyzy said...

I haven't been to Bazaar yet, but have been to Minibar. How is the menu laid out? Is everything a la carte or is it prix fixe. Or is it a hybrid like at XIV?

Food, she thought. said...

Dearest Woolly,
If you were here, I would take you in my pocket!

They have prix fixe (3 levels) and a la carte options. I rarely pre-fixe.