We've learned from the fare at the Cosmopolitan that José Andrés can mix up some fine eats. At Bazaar Meat inside SLS, he shakes things up a bit, by breaking some rules and introducing diners to a new way of fine dining. I think he's offering a model that is pretty great. You can customize a meal here; more so, than I've seen elsewhere. Whether you're a party of thirty or a table for two they have you covered. For example, you can order a few tapas or a whole suckling pig. Even a vegetarian can have their needs met.
I suppose with that wide appeal, you would want seating for many guests. Bazaar Meat does not miss that mark. The dining room is huge. It seemed to go on for days when we were seated in the back not far from the raw bar. There are private rooms, communal tables, just a big ole mishmash of options. The decor is pretty eclectic too. It definitely brings the bizarre to Bazaar Meat. Open kitchens, mismatched chairs, antler chandeliers, alligator heads, I could go on and on...
You might run into some trouble snagging a reservation. I did. Open Table showed no availability. Upon calling, I was told they were fully committed. Odd for a Monday evening, only a major convention could fill the space. After checking with management the hostess said that she could squeeze us in. I was appreciative. It was a surprise to find a near empty cavernous space on arrival. Our two top was in the depths of the restaurant we only passed a few diners on the way. It was peculiar at first, but toward the end of our meal we weren't entirely alone.
The menu is extensive. In fact, our two framed menus were larger than our table. We had to joust to share the space. The menu is broken into a few sections: starters, raw bar including carpaccios and tartare, then there are soups, sandwiches and cured meats, and fire pit selections are followed by other meats, vegetables and salads. It takes a short bit to decipher the best attack plan. We started with the signature Cotton Candy Foie Gras ($8) and Classic Tartare ($24), followed by the Suckling Pig Sandwich ($14) and entree selections were Lamb Neck ($25) and Beef Cheeks ($36) with sides of Robuchon ($15) and Brussel Sprouts ($12).
Please excuse the photo quality, I foolishly left my camera at home and had to rely on my cellphone.
Frank has been on a Moscow Mule kick lately, he was disappointed that it was not part of the cocktail program. He was told, they did not have the proper glassware. I opted for the Salt Air Margarita. I prefer the foam to the salted rim, since I tend to have a real knack for getting salt in my eye. I enjoyed the cocktail. Frank found it too tart.
The Foie Gras Cotton Candy is a playful bite, at the center of the ribbons is a decadent torchon coated with amaranth. The Classic Tartare is the real star, I've heard it has tableside preparation, but ours did not. I've never had a better version. The sirloin is so velvety, almost buttery, what really sets it apart is the robust flavor from the Savora Mustard. The Parker Rolls are light and airy, and a nice accompaniment. The timing of the rest of meal was questionable. We had the Beef Cheeks first, they were tender, but overall fairly pedestrian. Next came the Suckling Pig Sandwich, and the Robuchon potatoes. These dishes are magic. José Andrés pays homage to the man with the most delicious potatoes in all the land, with butter, butter and more butter. The sandwich is really stellar. I cannot recall ever having a better panini; succulent pork, sweet caramelized onions, tangy mustard and crispy bread. Again, it's the mustard really makes it sing. This, coming from a girl who detests yellow mustard, let it be said, all mustard is not created equal. The braised Lamb Neck and Brussel Sprouts were the last to arrive. The lamb was the weakest link of the meal. It was heavily salted. Not nearly as tender or flavorful as I had hoped. I'll stick to shanks, racks and chops. The Brussel Sprouts were just petals, they were light and refreshing. It was like a breath of fresh air after all the rich courses.
I've heard such high remarks given for service, our server was accommodating, but he was unpolished. He assumed we were dining for half price, while we'd love to, we weren't SLS employees. So, instantly, it left an impression we were overpaying for our meal. Then, he went on to explain how gamey and chewy the steaks can be. If he had good intentions it certainly didn't entice us to try the steaks. Toward the end of our meal, we heard another server offer a nice welcome spiel to diners (that did qualify for 50%) that really showcased the restaurant's offerings. Despite a few flaws, overall, it was a pleasant experience... I'd return for the pork alone.