Perfection is hard to come by. There was a high buzz in the foodie world when news hits on the street in that the Los Angeles Times Restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila decided to bestow upon a rare high mark of four stars to one of most anticipated restaurant of last year headed by uber Celeb chef, José Andrés. Given that the last time happened four years ago was for an out-of-towners (Joel Robauchon in Vegas), it was exciting to hear that LA had finally hit the mark.
The big question...did it hit the perfection mark with me?
Ms. Virbila and I are almost always at the end of opposite spectrum when it comes to dining. In a random online survey, she admits that her favorite Chinese restaurant in LA was Chinois from Wolfgang Puck (??!), but also quickly added Lake Spring from Monterey Park. I don't know, those answers didn't sit well with me for a "restaurant critic". It's very rare that we would be going to the same restaurant and put out the same review for the place in the same time period. So it's always interesting because neither one of us like to be the first to review as we both rather let the restaurant get its sea legs going before we start analyzing and deconstruct the food, service, and decor of the place. It'll be fun to see the matchmaking in progress as the comparison will be fair when it happened simultaneously.
One of my dining companions actually printed out her review and wanted to try everything she had ordered. Hey, why not? Head to head comparison with the same exact replicas of some of the stuffs that she had. If it's a perfection for her, it gotta be perfection for us, right?
One of the first item she listed was a foie gras cotton candy. This is like a miniature cotton candy with the foie gras serving as the heart of the lollipop being wrapped around with the sweets. At first I thought it was a foam, but as we all take one quick bite, it definitely hit you up on the sugar high with the cotton candy and put the savor taste in with the foie gras.
On this night, majority of us decided to come here because of the DineLA Restaurant week because we want to take advantage of their specials where this beautiful and very imaginative restaurant (designed by Philippe Starck) will be offering a starter, three tapas, and a dessert for $44 per person. There was a limitation as we can select from the Rojo (Traditional Tapas) Menu and from the Blanca (Contemporary) Menu with minor exclusions.
The Appetizers consist of two options of where you get to choose from Hilly Cheesesteak or Philly Cheesesteak. Remembered Pizza Hut's cheesebread pizza? Similar idea for their cheesesteak with the cheese infused inside of the bread. Once you bite into the bread, smoldering cheese will ooze out. The Philly option comes with Kobe beef and Hilly is the vegetarian option with mushroom on top of the bread.
Before we started it off, one of us ordered a Jamón platter which consist of three selections of all three different hams that is offered on the menu (Jamón Serrano, Jamón Ibérico de bellota, Jamón Ibérico) with a tomato bread on the side. Two of them are dry cured ham from regions of Spain with exquisite taste, while Jamón Ibérico de bellota was a hand-sliced, acorn-fed ham. I can't really decide which ones I liked the best, but I do prefer any of the dry cured hams.
We started it off with a few of the greens before we get bombastic with the meatier tapas. The Verdusas (Vegetables) portion of the menu flies out fast and furious. I was trying my best to keep up with the picture taking (more on that "No Photo" policy later).
These dishes were beautifully presented. I just love the fact that our servers were very caring in explaining what each of these dishes were. Some of these dishes are so fantastically out there, it was no way guessing what they were. The salad both have molecular gastronomy written all over it as the foam and liquid gels written all over it. You have to see how each of these Verdusas dishes are beautifully presented with a lot of imagination. Oh, here's a catch: make sure to let your server bring out the "big spoon" as it is needed to scoop the beautiful crafted liquidized gels. It will break if you try to prick it with a fork.
Speaking of imaginations, these next two dishes would have just blew me away. First one up was the most anticipated of the night and the one dish that typifies molecular gastronomy. The Olives Ferran Adria was a liquid olive presented in a porcelain spoon. You can see from the photo, the olive is broken down to liquid form and capsulized in an egg shape from. Once you put this in your mouth, it will defy any logic of how you would think an olive are suppose to taste. There is no words that can describe the feeling of having the liquid burst right in your tastebuds. Especially from Olives!
The Watermelon Tomato Skewers was supposed to be the straight forward item. Looking at it, they have what they called Pedro Ximénez reduction and cherry tomatoes on top of the watermelon and five "sexy seeds". Sweet, a little bit on tart side, and a very refreshing bite.
This was a great start for the evening. My next write up (yes, there will be sequels) will include the Carnes and desserts. Oh, you will get to see some of the the beautiful decor of the place. There is even a Patisserie section of the room that was avidly described by Ms. V as the "Tea Room in Alice in Wonderland". You don't want to miss that.
Just like an amuse bouche, this is just a bite to tie you over until the main course comes out. I will have to upload the rest of the photos later on. Stay tune to find out if this place matches the perfection.
The Bazaar by José Andrés
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048