Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Bazaar at SLS Beverly Hills

Sweet Potato Chips at The Bazaar Los AngelesThe unusually named SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills is very cool and funky - from the red velvet elevator banks to the polished black granite and mirror walls in the rooms. This is the kind of hotel you either love or completely hate! Designed by Philippe Starck, the trendy ambiance follows you to The Bazaar: a unique restaurant located within this interesting hotel.

The Bazaar is a set of distinct spaces: a bar area with tall tables and sexy sofas, dining areas catering Chef Jose Andres' inventive Spanish cuisine and tapas, and also a tea lounge for a lazy afternoon tea surrounded by opulent and eclectic pieces of art.

Private Dining at The BazaarJose Andres is a well-known name in culinary circles, often credited with bringing the small plates concept to the United States. He has made The Bazaar one of the most interesting dinner destinations of Los Angeles. During our team dinner here, I had the opportunity to try several of his creative tapas presentations. As we chatted over wine and cocktails before dinner, they brought out his signature foie gras cotton-candy 'lollipops'. More novelty than taste I must say!

Breads at The Bazaar Dinner consisted of several interesting dishes. The tomato-watermelon skewers with a tangy lemon dressing was refreshing and pleasing to look at. The Sweet Potato Chips with a yogurt, tamarind and star anise dip was a creative rendition of an old favorite.

The Jamon Serrano dry cured Ham was quite delightful. This meat comes from the Spanish black Iberian pig and among the most premium cured ham available in the world.

Jamon Serrano Cured Ham at The BazaarThen came the Jicama wrapped Guacamole. Jicama is a Spanish root vegetable that resembles a turnip. They looked very lovely - every cuisine seems to have a form of dumpling and this is the Spanish variation from The Bazaar.

Jicama Wrapped Guacamole at The Bazaar The Ultimate Spanish Tapa with Ensaladilla Rusa, potatoes, carrots, mayo and tuna belly. This dish sounded more interesting than it looked or tasted. The Organized Caesar salad was artfully served with a quail egg and parmesan cheese.

Organized Caesar at The Bazaar The next set of courses consisted of Criquettas of Chicken and Bechamel Fritters. Something fried is always good, right? The Sauteed Shrimp with Garlic and Guindilla Peppers was just ok.

Sauteed Shrimp at The BazaarThe Baramundi, a variety of cod, was served with black garlic and scallions - I liked this one.

Baramundi at The BazaarThere was more! Catalan Spinach with apple, pine nuts and raisins followed by Seared Chicken and dates with mustard caviar and spicy mushroom greens - another winner for me!

Catalan Spinach at The Bazaar
Seared Chicken and Dates at The BazaarEscalivada, a Catalan staple, is made of strips of roasted red peppers, sweet onions, and eggplant. Nice.

Escalivada at The BazaarThe Braised Wagyu beef cheeks were brilliant! This dish was topped with peeled sections of tangerines.

Braised Wagyu beef cheeks at The BazaarAnd finally one of this restaurant's popular dishes: The Philly Cheese Steak on air bread and cheddar. The crunchy shell covers a center of oozing cheesy goodness that tasted heavenly with the thin slices of steak. Amazing stuff!

Philly Cheese Steak on Air Bread at The BazaarI chose a warm chocolate dessert with a dark molten center that was a fitting end to this decadent Spanish dinner.

Warm Chocolate Dessert at The BazaarThe Bazaar is great place for eclectic designer dining in cool, hip surroundings. The food does live up to its hype and is way different from the usual Californian fare that is the mainstay of most fancy restaurants in this part of the world. While they bring the concept of 'small plates' to town, the plates are anything but small. I guess Chef Andres has imbibed that bit of Americanism into his offering!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Osteria Mozza

Mozza Caprese at Osteria Mozza Los Angeles Osterio Mozza is a spirited presentation of Italian cuisine by two of America's best known chefs: Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton. Osterias in Italy are more focused on steady clientele rather than haute cuisine, but this Osteria on Melrose Avenue attracts Hollywood town's beautiful people with more than the basics. The restaurant's Mozarella Bar is a popular concept serving antipasti based on fresh Italian cheeses - the best seat if you enjoy watching food being crafted right in front of your eyes.

Osteria Mozza Los AngelesWe began with an antipasti of Mozza Caprese. One of Italy's most popular summer time salads, the dish is made of mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and drizzled with olive oil. Nancy Silverton's rendition is made of slow-roasted vine tomatoes and hand-pounded pesto and creamy burrata cheese.

Mozza Caprese at Osteria MozzaThe Primi was Garganelli with Ragu Bolognese. This egg-based pasta is formed by rolling a flat, square noodle into a tubular form, unlike penne which is formed into a perfect tube. The pasta in its meat-based bolognese sauce was pretty good!

Garganelli Pasta at Osteria MozzaFor Secondi, I chose the Pan Roasted Pork Loin with Fagioli alla Castelluccio. This turned out to be a great choice. The meat was surprising juicy and tender and combined perfectly with the earthy flavors of the beans.

Pan Roasted Pork Loin at Osteria MozzaThe Dolci, dessert offering, was the Meyer Lemon Gelato Pie with Champagne Vinegar Sauce and Candied Lemon Zest. The dessert looked very large and appealing to the eye, but the tongue beat a hasty retreat because of the exteme tanginess.

Gelato Pie at Osteria MozzaOverall a great experience in fine Italian dining. While we were in a private dining room, I can see the food and service combine to provide an exceptional experience for lovers of Italian cuisine in the heart of Hollywood town.