Vegas Eats Preview: Bazaar at SLS Las Vegas
SLS Las Vegas is opening in less than 10 days and wallpapering the world with PR that states that the restaurants they are importing from Los Angeles are like awesome. Fortunately for you, most of the VT staff lives in L.A., enabling us to give these spots a spin and share the results. Previously, we visited the original Katsu-Ya location in Studio City, the Griddle Cafe in Hollywood, Umami Burger in Burbank and Cleo in Hollywood.
As before, this series of posts are previews of what might happen at SLS, based on reviews of the existing venues in Los Angeles.
The Bazaar by José Andrés is located inside the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, where it occupies a majority of the hotel's ground floor. The L.A. based VT staff has dined here mulitple times in different configurations as well as individually... personally, it was my fourth time. Bazaar offers a stylistic mix of traditional and modern tapas. For Vegas dining aficionados, Bazaar is one half Jaleo and one half a slightly less experimental version é.
It should be noted at the outset that the similarly named "Bazaar Steak" at SLS Las Vegas will have a completely different menu than the standard Bazaar, focusing on offal and other non-traditional meats. Bring on the Philly Cheesebrains!
We booked our reservation as part of the DineLA restaurant week program, which offers discounted prix fixe menus to encourage diners to try restaurants they're curious about with slightly less risk.
Our party of five - MikeE, JohnH, Blackjacker1979, MissMonkay - were seated in the rear dining room at a rectangular four top table with yours truly sitting bitch in a chair they threw in the crowded aisle. There were tons of other suitable family style or circular tables tables they could of put us at. Another nitpick, the furniture at Bazaar sucks. Between the cheapo and uncomfortable chairs and tables in the back dining room, the purposefully mis-matched array of thrift store finds that ring the dining room (see the bird cage chair in photo above?) and torturous built-ins (next to the bird cage chair) your comfort is subjugated to appease Starck's dumbish styling.
We ordered nearly everything on the menu.
We started with cocktails... a bottle of imported Fiuggi water ($12), the frothy "Salt Air Margarita"" ($17), "What's Up Doc?" - Grey Goose, carrot juice & basil ($17), "Liquid Cherry Manhattan" a Bulleit Manhattan with a molecular 'cherry' in the bottom ($18), "Smoke On The Water" blackberries, atomized scotch, Islay mist ($18). Here's the whole cocktail menu.
Some Little Starters
Get it? SLS. HA! Their words not mine.
If there is one signature dish at Bazaar, it would be this... the Philly Cheesesteak - a razor thin slice of ultra rare beef atop a football shaped piece of hollow, crunchy 'air bread' filled with sharp creamy cheese.
JohnH said "I could come here and eat only six of these and be satisfied."
The cheese inside is molten delicious. Careful you don't get it on your shirt. The best thing on the menu. The "Hilly Cheesesteak" is the same, but covered with a mushroom sliver.
I ordered the Bagel and Lox Cone - a conical bagel crisp cone filled with salmon roe and dill sprig. Delicious, but a zero compared to the Philly Cheeseseak.
See what I did there?
This is the Jicama Wrapped Guacamole. Visually, it makes me think of a rice paper Vietnamese spring roll as a purse, it tasted like a dot of quacamole wrapped in a purse made of flavorless jicama. All style, no substance.
The Organized Caesar is Andrés’ reconstitution of the Caesar Salad into a single bite. Romaine lettuce, and anchovies are wrapped into jicama encased silos. They were topped with parmesan and a raw quail egg, but only on two out of the four, which predisposed us to the éno, youé argument at the table. They were equally generous with the mini-air bread croutons. They sat in a puddle of dressing. Novel.
The vegetable course began with Endive filled with blobs of goat cheese, sliced almonds, orange purée and chives. Sweet and tangy.
Papas Canarias - incredibly salty baby potatoes with a "mojo verde" which is a cilantro chutney. Together, they echo the taste of an Indian samosa. Tasty. Looks like wrinkled testicles.
Pisto is a ratatouille-style tomato vegetable stew. You can add a 63 degree poached egg for $1. Tasty, but unexciting. Miss Monkay's spoonful had a 2 inch long stick (not sprig) of thyme in it.
Wild Mushroom Rice - a mushroom risotto with mini-shrooms and a smoky shaved cheese on it. Creamy and delicious.
Ottoman Carrot Fritters - falafel-style fritters made of carrots on a bed of apricot pistacio sauce. So delicious MissMonkay tried to hijack a plate from another table.
The seafood course started with Mediterranean Mussels served in a faux sardine tin. Har. Juicy, tangy and smokey and doused in Mediterranean sumac seasoning. These weren't a big hit at the table.
Just Shrimp Cocktail was next - a piece of poached shrimp wrapped around a plastic pipette filled with a watery sauce that lived in a taste universe somewhere between a bloody mary and traditional cocktail sauce. Interesting, but kinda stupid at the same time. It is amazing how culinary trend of deconstruction/reconstruction had such a short shelf life. This might explain "Bazaar Steak" instead of a third replication of the Bazaar concept in Las Vegas.
Intertwined Sauteed Shrimp served in a giant glass clam shell with shaved almonds, garlic sauce and powdered guindilla pepper that tasted like sumac seasoning. No raves at the table.
Seared Squid in Ink. Tentacles were crispy delicious, body rings were chewy. The white stuff is crispy rice tufts. Tasty, yet not a hit at the table.
The meat course began with a slate platter containing Jamon Serrano Fermin - cured Serrano ham with toasted bread topped with tomato and manchego cheese. A Catalan pizza. Tasty - how could it not be. The table consensus was that this was a thoughtless and a wasted opportunity.
Croquetas De Pollo - served in a glass sculpture of a sneaker.
Chicken a la king meets Japanese style croquettes in a battle McNugget. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside... just like you. This dish didn't excite much conversation at the table.
Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks served with three wrinkled testicle potatoes on a "mojo rojo". Tender, chewy, delicious. Keeping with the theme, I'm surprised these weren't served in a ceramic milk container.
And finally the head scratcher... Seared Mary's Farm Chicken.
First impression? Gag. They served us pink chicken. The waiter said it was "sous vide" therefore safe. Blackjacker texted his chef friend who said "NO, that is NOT the way it should be." We ate it and nobody got sick.
And now, the dessert menu. But wait! Before they bring out the desserts, we're told we need to get up and leave our table... walk outside of the restaurant, through the lobby bar and are reseated at undersized, low slung tables on the other side of the hotel inside of the Assouline gift shop. Yes folks. Bazaar makes diners who want dessert relocate to the other side of the building so they can clean your table and get more folks into the restaurant. Slightly offensive and definitely insulting.
We were seated at a table with two chairs and a two person love seat for five us. The tables and chairs are designed for garden gnomes, or people who like to sit with their knees touching their nipples. MikeE grabbed (and modeled) this chair that had a large lump in the middle that massaged his butt crack.
Unlike our servers inside the restaurant, our server in the dessert section was horrible, and unsavory. After a substantial wait full of forgotten requests, our desserts, coffee ($5) and tea ($9 - !!!) arrived.
Traditional Spanish Flan. Nobody raved.
Ice Cream and Sorbet, tasty scoops of mango, watermelon, strawberry sorbet adorned with berries and a mint leaf.
Pan Con Chocolate, looks like a mousse cock (and ball) being circumcized by a brioche. Sweet, chocolatey.
As with our previous visit to Cleo, we were accosted by the server to sign up for SBE's mailing list under the ruse of winning a $500 gift card. I filled it out. Good luck pal.
The prix fixe bill for five ($45 each) plus six cocktails, a bottle of water, four coffees and a tea came to $400.03 before gratuity.
The Bazaar by Jose Andres is an interesting dining experience, but, like most jokes, only make you giggle the first time they're told. Ultimately, we realized that Bazaar is not about the food, but about the experience, and once is enough. Bazaar Steak promises to be a completely different dining experience... or will it be the same experience with different jokes?
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