Lon, Marcel, Jessica 2

If you’re dining in Los Angeles, you need to read My Last Bite. Jo knows all the best restaurants in the area. That’s how I knew about The Bazaar at Jose Andres 465 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048, which was the highlight of the Southern California portion of our trip. It offered the complete LA experience, starting with a brief chat with the sous chef, Marcel Vigneron, of Top Chef Season Two. We asked him to choose our dishes for us, which was a good move because every single dish was special.

Our waiter recommended a cocktail made with muddled green grapes. It was light and refreshing, tart and sweet, but balanced so that it was neither too tart or too sweet.

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The Sweet Potato Chips came with a mesmerizing bowl of fluffy yogurt spiraled with tamarind. The airy lightness was a welcomed change from heavy dips. The funky style was so suitable for the modern wonderland around us. It was a great snack that needed a few more chips to finish the amount of dip served.

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Next a tuna tartare wrapped in a delicate ribbon of avocado, perhaps the first time I really enjoyed avocado. The flavors melted together on your tongue, the subtle touches of sea and garden.

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Cubes of fresh watermelon with tomato innards on top was clean and refreshing, feeling more like a palate cleanser.

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The Caprese Salad was no ordinary tomato and mozzarella salad. What looks like bocconcini are actually spheres of liquid mozzarella. We think the tomato was actually pressed tomato meat, formed into a ball, so that there would be no seeds, just concentrated tomato flavor.  We were advised to eat it all with a spoon, with the pesto and little puffed crouton, I opened my mouth as wide as I could and enjoyed the familiar combination in a whole new way.

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In discussing the next dish, our best guess was that these bite sized potatoes were baked in a salt crust. After submerging one of the salty potatoes in the accompanying Mojo Verde, I popped one after the other. Herbalicious and salty, tender hot centers, going from individual potato to crushed potato in your mouth effortlessly, with a gentle pop of the skin.

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We’ve had Jamon Iberico several times before. This is the first time I noticed a faint sweet nuttiness, perhaps from feeding on acorns. Served at room temperature, the fat melts on your tongue, sensual but reserved.

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The Jamon is served with some toasts, spread with tomato and topped with a smooth mild Manchego, drizzled with fruity olive oil. It’s so simple but the perfect match. It’s suggested that you could put the jamon on top but I like eating alternating bites between the jamon and the toasts.

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The sous vide lamb loin shows off the perfectly even cooking.

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It was served with a coating of gelee, topped with mushrooms, and potato foam, another inventive take on familiar flavors.

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The baby corn was incredible, charred on the outside, making it taste like popcorn. The corn and huitlacoche purees were perfect sauces for it, adding salty and sweet, with a little bit of funk.

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The clusters of spinach topped with pine nuts and raisins, and an apple reduction was another surprise of concentrated flavors in perfect harmony. The toasty nuts, plumped raisins, and juiciness did not hide the spinach.

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Comfortably full, we were escorted to the dessert area, a different section where you can see the showcase of desserts to chose from. Here, we had a nice creamy flan.

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The Coconut foam frozen with liquid nitrogen, called something like Floating Island was light and airy, matched with glazed bananas.

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You are told to break it with a spoon.

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We found the coffee and chocolates to be unimpressive, the only things we would advise against, as everything else was notably delicious. By now, we noticed that sitting at the table next to us was Katy Perry, Eliza Dushku, Perez Hilton, and we weren’t sure if one of them was Ashley Tisdale.

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Despite the impressive celebrity sighting, Lon and I were much more taken with Marcel. We always comment while watching Top Chef, that we wish we could taste the food. During season two, it seemed at times, Marcel took inventiveness a bit too far and allowed dramatics and presentation to take over taste. If that was the case, he has certainly grown without letting go of presentation and creativity. As beautiful and surprising as each plate is, it is just as memorable for the flavor and balance, even some familiarity.

It seems that food in Los Angeles is a bit cheaper than in New York, but we still thought that $233.37 for 4 people was a great price for the experience (with tip, roughly $70 per person). Service was excellent until we got to the dessert side where it noticeably fell off. Still, I’d go back in a heartbeat and I wish I could.

posted by jessica at 12:38 PM Filed under Celebrities, Cocktails and Liquor, Drinks, Fusion or Mixed, Restaurants, Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.