First Taste: The Bazaar by José Andrés


It’s no secret to anyone who has eaten at Café Atlántico or Jaleo in Washington, D.C. that José Andrés knows his way around tapas. And anyone who has snagged one of the six seats at Minibar (housed in Café Atlántico) knows that this chef, who trained under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli, is a big fan of the experimental food called molecular gastronomy. The big news at The Bazaar by José Andrés, his new restaurant in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, is that he has learned to seamlessly fuse the two, a feat that very few chefs in this country have accomplished.

Before you experience the food, however, you have to navigate the rather unusual (and huge) restaurant space. Sleek and glitzy, it embodies an entertaining if slightly unwieldy concept of moving the diner from cocktails and raw bar in Bar Centro, directly opposite the entrance, to dinner in the dining room, Rojo y Blanca, then back out to choose your own dessert from the glass-enclosed pastry kitchen at Patisserie, which also features a long, high communal table and a giant crystal chandelier. There’s even an outpost of the high-end design store Moss, where those so inclined can shop during the hours the restaurant is open.

What you think of all this will depend upon how you feel about high-concept design, but there is no denying the virtues of the tapas served in Rojo y Blanca. The menu is divided into two sections, Blanca for traditional tapas, Roja for modern ones. My advice is to try a few from Blanca (the wild mushroom rice with Idiazábal cheese is particularly tasty, rich without being gooey; the sea scallops with tomato-almond sweet pepper sauce are near-addictive), then order as many as you can eat (and afford) from Roja. Watermelon skewers with tomato seeds and Pedro Ximénez reduction may be the highest and best way to eat this sweet melon; “traditional” Ottoman carrot fritters with pistachio sauce will make even carrot-haters ecstatic; olives two ways—large stuffed green olives paired with Andrés’s famous liquid “olives,” in which he creates a skin around olive oil—are a study in flavor and texture; a bite of foie gras rolled in corn nuts and then encased in a miniature cloud of cotton candy is a near-perfect treat. Yes, foam does appear (although it is sometimes referred to as “air,” perhaps to disassociate it from the bad rep foam has acquired in some circles), but when it does, it’s in the service of flavor, not merely novelty: Slices of perfectly rare lamb loin served with foraged mushrooms and mushroom gelée, all sitting in a small puddle of potato foam, is slightly woodsy, slightly gamey, a bit rich, wholly satisfying. Fun without being silly, satisfying without being overpowering, inventive without being ridiculous, these are tapas for today.

The Bazaar by José Andrés 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles (; 310-246-5555)

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