The splashy California-based SLS Hotel has finally opened, bringing a sexy West Coast charm and the much-anticipated The Bazaar by José Andrés to South Beach. Like its LA counterpart, The Bazaar has two main dining rooms, both designed by Philippe Starck. “Rojo” (pictured above) in the lobby is accented with black leather couches, red lacquered chairs, a bull’s head in a lucha libre mask and an open kitchen behind the former reception desk. The more subdued “Blanca” in the rear of the hotel features a massive seashell chandelier, lemon yellow accents and a mural painted by Starck’s daughter Ara.
Andrés is known for blending modern cooking techniques like fruit “airs” with traditional Spanish dishes like empanadas and patatas bravas. Prices range from $6 for onion soup to $50 for “Jose’s Taco” with Iberico ham and caviar. Bazaar is still in soft open mode, so the tapas-style menu is not quite complete, but expect 60-80 items that change daily.
Begin with a $5 shot of the LN2 Caipirinha, a two-ounce cocktail flash-frozen into slush with liquid nitrogen. Then move onto beef shumai, pork belly buns, Cuban Escabeche “Estefan’s Way” (pictured above, silky hamachi cured with sour orange, pickled onions and fried capers), a “Bagels and Lox” cone with salmon roe and dill cream cheese (pictured below) or a sandwich “Cubano,” a puffed bread pocket filled with melted Swiss and topped with Iberico ham, mustard and pickles.
Presentation is playful and eye-popping with a serving of bacalao fritters served in a clear plastic sneaker and a scallop risotto presented in a coconut shell. Desserts play with local flavors. The banana mojito is a hollowed-out banana stuffed with mojito sorbet and topped with caramelized bananas, lime meringue and graham cracker crumbles.