Holiday Dining Delights at The Bazaar
BY ERIC ROSEN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIANE CU
The Patisserie in The Bazaar
|Acclaimed chef José Andrés in The Bazaar restaurant|
|One of The Bazaar’s most crave-worthy creations is the Philly Cheesesteak|
|The Not Your Everyday Caprésé salad from Rojo y Blanco|
Thanks to superstar chef José Andrés’s ingenious cuisine and Philippe Starck’s unmistakable design flair, The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills became an instant LA landmark when it opened a little more than three years ago. And during this festive season, it’s also the perfect place for a decadent meal. “Some holiday dinners can be a little less than stimulating, but The Bazaar allows for groups of any size to feel inspired and entertained during their culinary escapade,” says Shanon Ferguson, GM of The Bazaar. “Family gatherings become a whimsical dining adventure.”
“The idea behind the SLS brand,” begins SBE founder, chairman, and CEO Sam Nazarian, “was to create a space in Los Angeles that would deliver culinary expertise and a high-end lifestyle and design product that all kinds of people could embrace. It was going to be a game-changer to have a restaurant of really high caliber that wasn’t your traditional white-tablecloth experience. Our concept was to create an overall experience.”
Nazarian approached Spanish-born chef José Andrés in 2006 about overseeing the hotel’s entire food and beverage program and says, “José focused the cuisine through the lens of Spanish tapas—creating a restaurant that was as much about the food and beverage offerings as it was about the design. [The Bazaar] combines so many different settings—no one in LA had ever seen anything like it. And yet it is sophisticated enough to exist anywhere in the world.”
According to Nazarian, “José and I bet on each other—me for the operations and branding, and José for the creativity and the food.” Almost from the start, it was clear it was a winning bet.
“Although we opened a 220-seat restaurant at the beginning of a global recession,” says Nazarian, “we were cautiously optimistic because we believed in the product.” That investment paid off, says Nazarian. “We came out of the box doing north of $1 million in revenue, and we’ve had over $13.5 million in revenue each year since opening.”
A Delicious Mix
The Bazaar is actually a panoply of concepts within the same space, each with its own unique décor, ambience, and menu. “The Bazaar—the name tells you everything,” says Andrés of his restaurant. “It’s a mix of cultures. We wanted to create a certain level of entertainment with an open kitchen, food carts, and distinct spaces.”
Those looking to enjoy a creative cocktail gather at Bar Centro where they can sip martinis with “spherified” olives and olive-brine “air.” At Rojo y Blanca, Andrés serves playful takes on classic Spanish tapas, including Cotton Candy Duck Liver and the Not Your Everyday Caprésé of cherry tomatoes and liquid mozzarella with pesto and croutons. And many guests end their evening with a confection from the whimsical Patisserie.
SAAM is Andrés’s tasting room, a space set apart for privileged gastronauts willing and able to set forth on a voyage of culinary discovery. Dishes include Bazaar signatures such as the aforementioned Not Your Everyday Caprésé, as well as exclusive “tastes” (small courses) like Norwegian lobster on a bed of seaweed salad and lobster essence. “Los Angeles is a fascinating melting pot. It’s a serious food place, but very open,” says Andrés. “The Bazaar is creative in a way everyone can understand. Everyone will find something on the menu they like.”
From Andrés’s perspective, “Restaurants are the entertainment for the 21st century, and The Bazaar’s success is that it is theatrical.” Hollywood’s celebrity set flocks here because, as Andrés says, “People here are creative and love to be entertained—and we do that.”
On any given evening you might see action stars such as Denzel Washington, Jackie Chan, or Gerard Butler eating, or gal pals Sheryl Crow and Courteney Cox dining together. Hugh Jackman and Sarah Jessica Parker have both conducted business dinners at The Bazaar, while erstwhile glamour couple Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony has come for a date night, as have husband-wife True Blood costars Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin. Oscar winner Natalie Portman liked her meal at the restaurant so much she bought several of Andrés’s cookbooks to take home.