In addition to introducing tapas culture to America, Chef Jose Andres is a practitioner of what is best about molecular gastronomy a la Ferran Adria. He was included in Time's 2012 list of 100 Most Influential People in the World, and is the creative genius behind Think Food Group. I have been a fan of Andres' cooking for a few years now, having sampled several of his DC restaurants, including the recently closed Cafe Atlantico (soon to be reopened as America Eats Tavern), Jaleo, Zaytinya (Greek), and Oyamel (Mexican). I never was able to get a reservation to Mini Bar, Andres' most innovative and experimental cooking.
This past week, I was able to finally sample some of Mini Bar's famous recipes at one of Andres' newest endeavors. Housed at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, The Bazaar by Jose Andres offers both traditional and modern tapas in a chic atmosphere that is fun and convivial while remaining very food-centric.
|Tortilla de patatas--potato foam, 63 degree poach egg, and caramelized onions.|
|Cotton Candy Foie Gras|
|English Peas with Iberico Ham|
|Watermelon and Tomato Skewers|
|Oxtail Steamed Bun with jalapeno and watermelon radish|
|Philly Cheese Steak--Wagyu Beef, Air Bread, Cheddar Sauce inside the bread|
|Ottoman Carrot Fritters with Apricots and Pistachio Sauce|
|Gazpacho estilo Algeciras with tomato, cucumber, air bread, and Sherry vingar|
|The Ultimate Tapas--tuna belly, hard boiled eggs, peas, and potatoes|
|Chocolate Flan with Brioche Ice Cream, Caramelized Bread and Olive Oil|
Honestly, I loved everything. Funny, though, when the waitress who took me to the patisserie for dessert (a separate room filled like an old fashioned candy and bake shop) asked what my favorite was, I told her it was the peas with Iberico ham. She had never heard such as answer, but it was true. The peas were salty and sweet, perfectly complemented by the Iberico ham. The cotton candy foie was a delight, and the gazpacho had such a hit of Sherry vinegar it drew me back again and again. The Philly cheese steak was incredibly delicate, reducing the down to two incredible bites what Pat's and Gino's and Tony Luke's have spent decades perfecting. The deconstructed and reconstructed tortilla was amazing, and I could have eaten several. Having cooked many a tortilla myself, this was the very essence, recreated based on science.
The oxtail buns packed beefy flavor into a tiny package, and the watermelon and tomato skewers again played with the sweet and savory aspects. The Ottoman carrot fritters, heavily spices with traditional Moroccan flavors and filled with carrot, were different and possibly my least favorite, though only based on my taste not the quality of the food. I loved the tuna and potato salad with the house made mayo that comprised the "ultimate tapas." It was a case of quality ingredients and the alchemy that makes something greater than the sum of its parts. Dessert was thoroughly enjoyable; the chocolate and olive oil combination with bread is a favorite from Andres' childhood, redeployed in a new form.
Frugal diners need not visit The Bazaar, but those who love Spanish cuisine or just love creative cooking, ought to give it a try. Treat it as a special occasion and enjoy how Andres and his staff play with flavors like no one else.