Last night I had the opportunity to check out Bazaar restaurant at the SLS hotel. All in all the night was rather entertaining but fell quite short of all the hype and PR that has been circulating for months on this place.
We began our night checking in with the hostess. A little unattentive to say the least. Three women stood behind the podium yet none of them was able to look up, ackowledge our arrival or offer any sort of warm welcome or smile. Not sure if this is the desired effect as I know that some places claim to treat people like this purposely but I, for one, am not a big fan of this type of "service". There are just too many great restaurants in this city that I refuse to deal with impolite staff just so that I can try the food. Unfortunately, the service problems continued throughout the night with a waiter that literally could not be found for over 45 minutes (even after I asked another waiter to send him over).
Regardless, I realize that service is just one peice of the restaurant pie so I will try to focus more on the food. It should be noted that prior to last night, I had heard many great things about Bazaar from people far and near. My particular interest was in the molecular gastronomy aspect but I had also heard that the food was authentic Spanish tapas and spectacular.
The menu: The menu is broken into two distinct sections (1) Traditional Tapas and (2) Modern Tapas. The Traditional Tapas included such classics as canned seafood, jamon, cheeses and all of the traditional tapas one could find in Spain.
Traditional Tapas: Regretfully we did not try any of the jamons but we did try the canned kumomoto oysters as well as other traditional plates.
- Kumomoto Oysters: Fresh, clean and sweet. These are typically my favorite oysters and the chef kept it simple and clean. It should be noted however that these oysters are only served in a can and not taken from a can. They are NOT canned and, for the first time that I can recall, I was upset to see fresh oysters rather than canned as Spain is famous for its canned seafood and the canning process actually adds a consistency and flavor unattainable elsewhere. Either way, these were tasty.
- Sauteed Mushrooms: A nice dish packed with earthy flavors of wild mushrooms and garlic. Nice and simple but not amazing.
- Sauteed Shrimp in Garlc: Again, nice, well cooked shrimp with nice flavors. Solid but not amazing. Its garlic shrimp for heavens sake, this is not rocket science.
- Organized Ceaser salad: An interesting take on the classic. This was a ceaser salad wrapped in Jicama and topped with a quail egg, presented similar to a sushi roll. Unfortunately I did not try this but it looked cool. The comments seemed to be, "yep, that's a ceaser salad, nothing special."
- Avocado Tempura: A strange dish. I love avocados and anything tempura and so this was a nice dish but it felt greasy and heavy. The avocado peices tasted a little like deep fried potatoe squares. Nothing great here and left a greasy after taste.
- Tuna ceviche and avocado roll: The was the best dish of the night. A fairly basic tuna roll. Tuna sashimi wrapped in avocado with some type of corn nuts sprinkled on top. A great combination of flavors and textures that create a real party in your mouth. Well seasoned and very tasty and, if I hadn't heard so much hype, I would stop there but since this place is a walking advertisement I'd be remissed if I didn't point out that this was, all in all, a tuna roll and, again, not rocket science. Still, it was the best plate of the night.
- Sea Urchin & Avocado Steamed Buns: I LOVE Uni and, typically, can eat Uni all day long. This dish was different than anything I've ever had. Although the bun was bigger than I would have liked and tended to over power the uni, this was tasty and different. Not great but interesting.
Overall, I would say that the food and service are truley nothing to write home about. I would take a night at Providence, Sona, Il Pastaio or In N Out over this. In fact, I ended up going by In N Out on the way home to eat a real dinner. Interestingly though, I would recommend people to go at least once to check out the place. The eye candy walking around is typical of most trendy Beverly Hills/LA scenes. Beautiful people abundent throughout. It is a kwirky, strange and unorthodox design inside but it is a scene worthy of Los Angelinos and Hollywood types. Worth grabbing a drink and a snack but bring your checkbook. I'll never go there again for 'dinner' but I could see myself taking a date for drink and a lite snack.
Too bad this turned out to be a little disappointing. All in all, relative to the hype and write-ups I have read recently, Bazaar is wack IMO.