At acclaimed Spanish chef José Andrés’s The Bazaar food hall in Beverly Hills, boundaries exist to be pushed. Located within the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel, a whimsical space designed by Philippe Starck, The Bazaar’s four restaurants—Bar Centro, Rojo y Blanca, the Saam private tasting room, and Patisserie—offer ample opportunity for diners. But in this 11,000-square-foot epicurean playground, where does one begin?
Bar Centro, a bastion of molecular mixology, is the first port of call. Classic cocktails and modern libations alike are reimagined here through a combination of mad science and creativity. Take the New Way Martini: featuring spherified olives and olive brine espuma, or foam, this interpretation of a dirty martini playfully pays tribute to Andrés’s mentor Ferran Adrià, inventor of the spherification process. Other offerings include Manhattans with liquefied cherries and margaritas topped with salt air, but the bar’s pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the Ln2 Caipirinha. Prepared tableside, each ingredient is feverishly stirred into a bowl overflowing with liquid nitrogen, cooling the mixture to -196 degrees Celsius in a most dramatic fashion.
Thirst quenched, the next destination is Rojo y Blanca, a two-part culinary experience that strikes a seamless balance between classic and contemporary. Rojo, with its deep red glow and impeccably executed small plates, embodies the Spanish tapas tradition to a tee. Stuffed piquillo peppers and pa’amb tomaquet—the Catalan equivalent of bruschetta—shine in their simplicity. Charcuterie offerings also impress, particularly the fermín platter with its selection of the finest jamóns, including the prized ibérico de bellota.
Just around the corner from this lively tapas bar lies Blanca, Rojo’s thoroughly modern counterpart. Boasting an avant-garde menu, Blanca offers flights of fancy that include foie gras cotton candy, miniature lox and bagel cones, and a nouveau Philly cheesesteak comprised of cheddar-filled morsels of bread layered with seared Wagyu. Andrés’s imagination runs wild with Not Your Everyday Caprese transforming the Italian standard with macerated cherry tomatoes and liquefied mozzarella spheres that surprise the palate by bursting on contact. “I want diners to be open to see tastes and textures in a new way,” remarks Andrés, “to laugh or smile, and then to think.”
Not to be outdone, the parade of desserts on display at Patisserie is just as theatrical as The Bazaar’s other offerings. Executive Pastry Chef Kriss Harvey channels Willy Wonka with confections like cocoa pop rocks and fluorescent bonbons, although his classic pastries are equally impressive—especially the canelé de Bordeaux. Harvey spent 15 years perfecting this famously challenging recipe, importing vanilla from Bora Bora, buttery rum from Austria, and special copper molds to meet his exacting standards. Only 12 canelés are made each day, making these treats as elusive as Wonka’s golden ticket.
While winding through The Bazaar’s carnival-like surroundings, one traverses a culinary landscape that Andrés has constructed to engage the five senses in most unexpected ways. “I want my guests not only to feel, but to hear, to see, to enjoy the story that my team and I are telling them,” he says. After indulging in impressive feats of molecular mixology presented alongside traditional Spanish tapas, and modernist small plates accompanied by fanciful desserts, every diner will attest to the fact that his mission has most certainly been accomplished.
The Bazaar by José Andrés, 465 South La Cienega Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California, USA 90048, 310 246-5555.