I stayed at the SLS hotel (you can check out my review of the hotel here). I had a spare night where I decided to leave it empty to be a little spontaneous from my usual highly scheduled holiday. I noticed that the SLS hotel has a first class dining venue, The Bazaar by José Andrés, within its walls. I inquired about the restaurant and the feedback seemed to be good, so I spoke to the concierge and made a reservation. The restaurant has the same quirky playful design of the SLS Hotel combined with José Andrés’ delightful tapas menu which is an electric mix of traditional Spanish flavours, amazing produce and deft culinary techniques. It looks to be an amazing night.
I arrive at the restaurant and am seated at the counter and peruse the menu. I opt for a set of wine flights and build my choices from the menu around those wines.
Tapas & Wine Tasting
Wine Flight Part 1
Deutz, Brut Classic, NV, Champagne France
Von Bhul, Kabinett “Armand” Riesling, Pfalz, Germany (2013)
Heitz, Napa, California, Chardonnay (2014)
Seared Scallop Romesco Sauce
The smooth succulent scallop are a lovely textural contrast to almond crumb, bread and onions in the romesco sauce. The dish represents a triangle of flavours with the acidity of the tomato pairing well with the richness and salinity of the scallop and sweet tartness of sherry vinegar. The champagne was refreshing with its mix of lemon, mouth-watering acidity, and sweet candy hints reflecting the dish’s fusion of flavours rather remarkably.
Dungeness Crab “a la Donositarra” – tomato sofrito, seafood broth, toasted bread
The soft flakey crab meat was intermingled with ripe juicy tomato sofrito and the wonderful textures of breadcrumb. Each spoonful is a seriously sensuous and decadent affair. The theme is consistent here; with the richness of the crab pairing well with the acidity of the sofrito and the wonderful refreshing acidity of the champagne.
Grilled Spanish Octopus – Caramelised Onions, Chicken Escabeche, Cherry Tomatoes
The distinct strong flavour of the octopus is couple with a mild bitterness around the charcoal area of the skin. The bitterness is in stark contrast to the sweet onion puree and the few shreds of the pickled onion which acts to refresh palate. The juicy tomatoes in the dish have a tart acidity to them. The sweetness of the Riesling is good with bitterness of octopus and the good helping of black garlic paste in the dish.
Sea Urchin Steamed Buns with Avocado, Eel Sauce, Tempura Flakes
The sea urchin has a rich sweet creamy taste with a flurry of salinity (some of it albeit due to the eel sauce) mixed with the smooth avocado and crunch of tempura and contained within the soft pillowy buns. A little jalapeño sneaks in for the kick at the end. I have paired this with the Chardonnay. There is good acid in chardonnay along with a creamy texture and rich flavours of green apples and citrus to match the smooth richness of the urchin.
Wine Flight Part 2
Hilliard Bruce, “Sun” Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, CA (2011)
Chateau Trimoulet, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France (2010)
Not your everyday Caprese
This dish is gorgeous; its primarily juicy cherry tomatoes and a liquid style mozzarella with a firm outer surface created through reverse spherification. The tanginess of the cherry tomatoes and pesto style sauce is mediated by the creamy liquid mozzarella (which bursts from its encased bubble when poked on the tongue). It makes for rich Mediterranean taste sensation on the tongue. It is paired with the Pinot with its good acid and cherry and raspberry fruit flavours to pair with creamy cheese and a syrupy touch to match the savoury feel of the dish. The croutons add a nice crunch to broadly balance the dish.
Seared Rabbitt ‘Al Ajillo” garlic, potato and parsley
The rabbit is beautiful with a mild natural flavor, the light jus reduction offers good balance but is overtaken by the garlic flavours which very strong and the bite of the onion. The smooth fluffy mash is of good texture and forms a nice base to the dish. I do pair this with the Pinot Noir and the bright fruit (cherry and raspberry) flavours do manage to combat some the garlic but is probably a little too strong for the rabbit.
Beef Tartare Kimchi Crackers, Pickled Shallot, Fried Capers
The wonderful jelly-like texture of the steak is in contrast of salty crisp base of the Kimchi Cracker. There is a good tang in steak mix from the capers and shallot but the natural flavours of the beef still shine through. The Bordeaux proves a reasonable pairing with its rich intensity and very strong dark plum flavours with good layers of tannins and a long finish.
When I finish my final course, the waiter asks if I would like dessert and there is an option to sit next to the dessert train next door and select your desserts and coffee from the dessert bar.
Wine Flight Part 3
The final wine in the wine flight is the Peter Lehmann, Semillon, Barossa, (2012).
The wine has sweet candied pineapple and candied citrus fruit flavours coming through and the wine is well balanced with some good acidity to balance the sweetness.
Chocolate Cake of Your Dreams
The dessert has a tangy red outer powder (It’s kinda like pop rocks in the sensation on ones tongue), there is a soft Peruvian chocolate mousse with rich thick chocolate salted ganache inside which makes for a decadent dessert experience.
Chocolate Almond Praline Tart
This dessert ticks the aesthetics box. There is a good lump of creamy rich mousse in the centre then a chocolate mixture with some crunch mixed through. The crunch is presumably the praline and biscuity chocolate base. It is a delight as well.
The restaurant has a unique design, culinary flair, attentive staff, a reasonable wine list – the wine flight pairings are such good value and an extensive menu which should please any palette. It is definitely worth a visit next time you’re in Los Angeles.