The only option is a 20 course menu of little bites. It was perhaps inspired by Andres's restaurant Minibar in Washington DC, although that restaurant only seats six and diners are seated in front of the chefs. You access the room by walking through the restaurant and entering an unmarked door, where once you enter you are welcomed by your captain. Dinner is priced at $120 per person, excluding tax, tip and beverage.
|The Golden Boy cocktail (behind) with Lotus Root Chips (front)|
|Black Olives Ferran Adria|
|Ottoman Carrot Fritter (Substitute Course)|
|Jicama Wrapped Guacamole (Substitute Course)|
The Chicken Wing was good but a boneless chicken wing can only be so delicious. The traditional buffalo sauce, ranch dressing and celery are all present on top of the wing, in a nod to the classic American bar food dish.
|Not Your Everyday Caprese|
|Spring Foie Gras Soup (pre broth)|
Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water, they're back. Spheres that is. This time carrot spheres join the party. Not as good as the traditional potato kind.
|Cippolini Onions (Substitute Course)|
|Caviar Steamed Bun|
|Cauliflower "Couscous" (Substitute Course)|
|Mushroom Risotto with Black Truffles ($35 Supplement)|
Jose Andres has a way with wagyu beef sandwiches as his Philly Cheesesteak was my second favorite dish of the evening after the Banh Mi. I had also eaten this dish on my prior visit, but this version was even better. The liquid cheese inside and the airy "bread" and the savory beef made it a memorable combination.
|Foie Gras Cotton Candy|
|Japanese Baby Peaches|
The Dragon's Breath Popcorn (not pictured) was the transition to dessert. It is popcorn dipped in liquid nitrogen and when you eat it, smoke comes out of your nostrils, like a dragon. It is fun to watch your dining companions and the waiter even brought over a mirror so we could see ourselves.
|Sexy Little Sweets|
The Saam room is certainly an experience unlike any other in LA. Whether it is for you depends on how you feel about molecular gastronomy and the price value equation. The three us of shared two bottles of wine, each on the less expensive end of the spectrum and the total cost including the truffle supplement, tax, tip and beverages was about $270 per person. The only other restaurant where you would have a "tasting menu" with so many different tastes is Urusawa, and that could cost double. However, I thought the meal was good, just not good enough to be worth it.
I advised them in advance about not eating pork or shellfish and they said it would not be a problem. One of my dining companions informed them when we arrived he is allergic to oysters and they said they could accommodate that as well. I found it disappointing and frankly lazy that every substitution was a vegetarian one. The dishes I received for numerous courses were not as interesting as many of the meat/fish ones I missed. In May I had dinner with a friend at Alinea in Chicago, and knowing of my dietary restrictions, they were able to offer comparable dishes for every course. That set a high bar. I did appreciate them being willing to adjust to my dietary restrictions, but with several weeks notice and a menu of dozens of dishes to avail themselves of in the Saam and Bazaar kitchens, offering a vegetarian substitution for every dietary course makes it easy on the kitchen but removes some of the illusion that the meal is especially for you.
They also brought me the Jamon and Caviar dish, not realizing that jamon was pork and brought one of my fellow diners a dish with an oyster broth, after he mentioned being very allergic to oysters. Just not a smooth evening and when the dining room only accommodates 40 guests, the service did not live up to the level that it aspires to.
The meal was fun as were many of the dishes and the room's privacy and relatively low noise level make it an attractive option, but overall it disappointed. If the other dishes had been as wonderful as the banh mi, I'd be rushing back. Perhaps the best way to experience the Bazaar is to get a couple of the greatest hits as an appetizer with a cocktail before heading elsewhere for dinner.
Saam at the Bazaar: 465 S. La Cienega Blvd. (in the SLS Hotel). Phone: (310) 246-5545. Website: http://www.thebazaar.com/experience/saam