The Bazaar By Jose Andres

City Sips, Heavenly Bites

If you’re tired of your regular spot and are looking for a fun and unique dining experience to spice up your weekend, then look no further! Jose Andres’s, Bazaar at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, is a revolution in food preparation and presentation.

Before I attempt to explain the technical aspects of Andres’s approach and his ability to handcraft the divine flavors of my favorite dishes, I feel obligated to describe the incredible atmosphere at The Bazaar. To simply describe it as unique would be an understatement because, without an ounce of exaggeration, I can say that there are almost no two chairs that are exactly the same in any one of its four fabulously decorated rooms — including a dessert bar! Every inch of the sprawling restaurant exudes extravagance — from its ornate chandeliers, retro wall paper and uniquely crafted chairs, The Bazaar has left no stone unturned when it comes to having an unparalleled dining atmosphere.

As if the unbelievable atmosphere isn’t reason enough already to make The Bazaar your next birthday, graduation or anniversary destination, let me tell you a little bit about what makes their food every bit as unique as their atmosphere…

Andres’s Bazaar is known for its modern take on traditional Spanish tapas. To this end, Andres has become famous for his use of an incredibly delicate technique called molecular gastronomy which transforms his dishes into true culinary creations. As awesome as it sounds and as amazing as it tastes, I am barely able to understand the chemistry of how it happens. Although, after a bit of research and a dictionary at my fingertips, I can finally explain how one of my favorite dishes, the “Not Your Every Day Caprese,” is made.

As you might have been able to guess, it consists of tomatoes and mozzarella BUT in no ordinary fashion. This dish requires a technique called spherification, which results in a small, translucent ball of mozzarella that seems to be held together, as if by magic. As much as I wanted to believe that, I recently learned that this is possible by combining calcium chloride and liquified mozzarella, and then immersing it into a mixture of water and alginate. Minutes later, a mozzarella filled, tasteless gel capsule the size of a grape forms and remains as such until punctured, at which point it pops, and delicious mozzarella explodes in your mouth — Yes, it is just as magical as it sounds!

These spherified mozzarella balls are served with equally sized, succulent cherry tomatoes, resting on a thin layer of creamy pesto sauce, and accompanied by a miniature crouton. The knowledgable waiters at The Bazaar will instruct you about the method of preparation (of all your dishes), as well as the proper way to eat this dish — carefully scoop up a mozzarella ball, cherry tomato, dollop of pesto and a mini crouton onto a single spoon and — voila — you have your perfect bite.

Another seemingly magical item on the Bazaar menu is the Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) Caipirinha — a combination of Brazilian cachaca, fresh lime juice and sugar, blended with liquid nitrogen to form a delicate, flavorful and strong, frozen cocktail tastier than any frozen margarita you have ever had before. The best part about ordering this futuristic drink is that it is made table-side! You get to watch as a magician with a whisk stirs the liquid nitrogen with the other ingredients as the frozen smoke spills over the mixing bowl. It is then scooped into a glass and served to you with a tiny wooden spoon for consuming.

With every dish more exquisite and delicious than the last, you’ll have plenty of tapas to choose from to create your very own culinary adventure at the SLS’s Bazaar. Despite the seemingly outrageous combinations and preparations, I have yet to taste a dish I didn’t absolutely love — from cotton candy coated foie gras, to jicama wrapped guacamole bites, and even passion fruit and espresso foam Wagyu beef — everything somehow, magically fits together like pineapple on pizza (only SO much better).

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Rating: 10/10

Address: 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Type: Spanish Tapas

Price Range: $18 – $100

Must Haves: Caviar Cones, LN2 Caipirinha, Not Your Every Day Caprese, “Philly Cheesesteak,” Cotton Candy Foie Gras, Brussel Sprouts, Croquettes De Pollo, Papas Canarias

Reservations: Yes – Tough

Full Bar: Yes

Dessert Bar: YES!

Parking: Street, Valet

Fred’s Beverly Hills

Heavenly Bites

If you ever need an excuse to try on a pair of $2,000 shoes before brunch, then do I have the spot for you!

Barney’s New York in Beverly Hills’ newest restaurant and lounge, Fred’s, sits on the 5th floor of the world famous department store, with rooftop seating and classic American cuisine.

Sooo, before I get into it, I’d like to point out that one major plus of going to a fabulous brunch spot on the top floor of a lavish department store, is that you’re forced to browse some of the most elegant and extravagant shoes on the planet! On the other hand, the downside, is that you’re forced to browse some of the most elegant and extravagant shoes on the planet…

Whether you’re able to act on your impulse to buy the Gucci slippers or not, the Madison Avenue salad at Fred’s is always a great choice and a delicious way to start your day. While not the most traditional brunch item, this salad proves itself a worthwhile decision at any meal. With a dozen, fresh chopped vegetables (varying seasonally) and local greens topped with imported Italian tuna, the Madison Avenue salad is my go-to brunch item at Fred’s — And that’s coming from a breakfast food lover!

If you’re not quite as open minded as I am, and brunch for you necessarily consists of some variation of eggs or at the very least pancakes and French toast, then you’re also in luck with Fred’s. Their Cinnamon French Toast is divine! It’s made with thickly cut brioche bread, coated in a light layer of egg and cinnamon, and sprinkled with a dusting powdered sugar.

Before I start drooling on my keyboard, I’ll finish by saying that whether you swing by Fred’s for some weekend brunch or a weekday lunch, you’ll have plenty of options from herb omelettes, French toasts and lox platters to sandwiches, salads, and pizzas.

While it may cost you a pretty penny, Fred’s will make a perfect spot for anything from a classy ladies lunch to an elegant bridal shower!

Rating: 9.7/10

Address: 9570 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Type: American Bistro

Price Range: $9 – $32

Must Haves: Mark’s Madison Avenue Salad, Cinnamon French Toast, Los Platter, Lavender Lemonade

Brunch Menu: Weekends Only

Lunch Hours: Monday – Saturday, 11:00 AM – 7 PM; Sunday, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Self Park Garage, Valet

Cava Mezze Grill

Heavenly Bites

The best thing to happen since self-serve frozen yogurt is the innovation of the chipotle style service line. Since I coined that phrase myself, I should probably make it clear that the “chipotle style service line,” as you might have guessed, refers to the fast, casual dining experience provided by a gourmet, cafeteria style line where you are able to choose custom options from a selection of bases, proteins and toppings.

As a graduate of UCLA, and a frequent patron of the surrounding Westwood village, I am very familiar with this style of food service… There are about five restaurants on a single block that emulate this model — and for good reason! You get a completely customized order for one very reasonable, fixed price.

With so much competition in one area, let alone, on one block, it’s hard to stand out above the rest — but somehow, Cava, shines. With a healthy, Mediterranean style menu, Cava is able to provide various options for each constituent of your very own culinary creation. The first is your base, where you can choose between a pita sandwich, a bowl with either saffron basmati or brown basmati rice, black lentils, or one of five lettuce options. At the next stop in line, you have your choice of three of the six available spreads. My favorites are the crazy feta (a smooth and mildly spicy feta concoction), the red pepper hummus, and the tzatziki, which is a creamy yogurt and dill sauce. The other choices include regular hummus, an eggplant and red pepper combination, and an insanely spicy harissa (at least to my taste buds!).

If you can believe it, there are still two more stops on the road to crafting your perfect Mediterranean meal. The next choice is your protein: diced, grilled chicken, braised, shredded lamb or beef, savory beef meatballs, crispy falafel, spicy lamb meatballs or a seasonal vegetable option. My personal favorites are the grilled chicken and the beef meatballs — *drool*. And last but not least, you get to load up your meal with as many toppings as you want, at no additional charge! These toppings can vary seasonally but often include diced cucumbers, a cherry tomato and sliced red onion salad, fresh cauliflower tabouleh, banana peppers, pickled onions, sliced black olives, a tangy cabbage slaw and one of six flavorful dressings.

Take my word for it, if you do it right and load up on the fresh toppings, you can have yourself a truly gigantic bowl for less than $9! See the images below for a proper understanding of what I mean by “doing it right” and filling that bowl up to the max… 😉

TBH, the stacked line up and hundreds of possible combinations for your meal already set Cava apart from its fellow, fast-casual dining competitors, but the true hero, one we neither asked for, nor deserved, is the selection of seasonal, flavored iced teas and carefully crafted lemonades! There’s always something new and one of a kind on their beverage counter, and they never cease to disappoint! A personal favorite of mine was the watermelon limeade — it’s wonderfully cool, crisp and refreshing!

 

Rating: 7.5/10

Address: 1073 Broxton Avenue, Los Angeles 90024

Type: Mediterranean

Price Range: $9 – $15

Must Haves: Greens and Grains Bowl, Crazy Feta, Cauliflower Tabouleh, Cabbage Slaw

Hours: 11 AM – 10 PM

Reservations: No

Parking: Street

Blue Bottle Coffee

City Sips, Heavenly Bites

If you’re anything like me, you need your daily fix — of coffee, of course! And if you’re anything else like me, a bad cup of morning joe can turn a good morning into an unwelcome one faster than you can roll your eyes and say, “It’s 10 a.m. and I already need a nap!”

Well, if you want to put those dreadful mornings behind you, then make Blue Bottle Coffee the newest addition to your morning routine. With twelve locations in the Los Angeles area, you’re bound to be within a few miles of one wherever you’re hiding.

My personal favorite is their New Orleans. I’m not a fan of sweet drinks, especially when it comes to my coffee — but I also don’t like my coffee black. This usually leaves my options limited and my decision difficult when I want to try something besides my usual iced coffee with milk. But, Blue Bottle has squashed the competition and made at least one decision in my life a no-brainer. The New Orleans is a delightful, delicate and creamy combination of their fresh Cold Brew, blended with a little more than a splash of whole milk (I often substitute almond milk) and just a dash of pure cane sugar. The ultimate trifecta! BUT the most unique part about the New Orleans is the subtle hints of roasted chicory laced within every sip.

Coffee isn’t all they do right at Blue Bottle — their avocado toast is decadent and their poached eggs are flawless. They have a minimal selection of mouthwatering snacks, but the avocado toast stole my heart (as avocados tend to do). It is dusted with red chili flakes and topped with a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper — my favorite way to season avocado in every form!

Blue Bottle Coffee provides a unique, modern take on a centuries old tradition of brewing and drinking coffee. The story behind its inception and their services is just as sui generis as their cup of coffee. So please, feel free to read more here about how Blue Bottle Coffee evolved into the small but fabulous network of cafes that it is today.

XOXO,

Your Not So Basic Bitch

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Rating: Strong 9.2/10

Address: 132 South Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Type: Coffee Shop

Price Range: $3 – $8

Must Haves: New Orleans, Cold Brew, Avocado Toast, Poached Eggs

Hours: Monday – Friday from 6:00 p.m. – 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. – Location Dependent; Saturday – Sunday 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. – Location Dependent

Parking: Street

Non-Dairy Options: Yes

Connie and Ted’s

Heavenly Bites

What drew me to write a blog over any other platform of expression is that I get to create a rapport with my readers. Inevitably, with every post, you will come to learn something new about me, varying primarily with the type of establishment up for discussion. So here’s an initial toast to me bearing my soul to you and hoping that I can help at least a few of you find your way around this bustling city in the process! ♥

Holy Crab! This place absolutely rocked my socks. It is a seafood haven to say the least. From the moment you walk in, you are immersed in what feels like a seafood joint ripped right off the shore line of New England’s eastern coast — From the smell of densely battered fish and chips combined with the light fishy stench of raw clams and oysters by the truckload, you are transported from the busy streets of  West Hollywood to the very shore line that Chef team Michael Cimarusti and Sam Baxter intended to take you.

Connie and Ted’s offers a casual dining experience with an enormously open-air kitchen centered and tucked away in the back of the sophisticated clam shack. While very casual in regards to its visual experience, including the recommended attire for patrons, there is nothing casual about the quality or the the price. With most of their oysters running at $3.25 a pop, starters ranging between $9 – $18, main courses falling somewhere between $20 – $44, with a few sandwiches under $20, and cocktails costing roughly $14, I’d say it would be hard to get out of there without spending at least 35$ a person. With that said, if you can swing it, you won’t be disappointed. The oysters were fresh, the mussels were plump as I’ve ever seen, and the crab and lobster were steamed to perfection. We ordered a side of french fries for the table (always the move, am I right?) and they were thick cut AND crunchy — an all too rare combination!

Last but certainly not least, I would be remiss not to at least mention the Song of the Gringo cocktail and the Blondie dessert. The Song of the Gringo has to be one of the most unique cocktails I’ve ever tried. A delicate combination of apricot brandy, Rittenhouse rye and bitters, amongst other full and fruity flavors, it was topped with a light egg white foam. It tasted like Autumn in a glass — an elegant, spiked apple cider. It got me in the holiday spirit right in time for Thanksgiving! Speaking of, don’t even get me started on the Blondie — I was trying to be good and hold out on having dessert until Thursday, when I planned on having two heaping slices of Pumpkin pie (my fave!). But, as it turns out, I could not withstand the taunt of the giant, fluffy brown sugar blondie bar, topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream the size of a baseball and finally, the tantalizing and generous drizzle of  toasted caramel sauce sitting on a warm plate right in front of me — and I am SO glad I didn’t. It was, without a doubt, one of the top five dessert I’ve had to date.

Needless to say, I strongly recommend this place for any occasion — a fun date-night, birthday dinner, or Saturday night splurge! Find some helpful hints and facts below and feel free to comment on this post if you get a chance to try it out and let me know what you think!

XOXO,

Your Not So Basic Bitch

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Rating: Strong 10/10

Address: 8171 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

Type: Seafood

Price Range: $31 – $60

Must Haves: Oysters, Local Crab, New England Clam Chowder, Blondie

Reservations: Yes – Tough

Full Bar: Yes

Parking: Street, Valet

Happy Hour: Monday – Friday from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Only at the bar