Friday, October 9th was my thirty-first birthday. I am officially over 3 decades old, even if that is one year over. I always make it a point to do something significant for my birthday. It may seem silly, and often times you will hear people say that they prefer not to make a big deal out of the day because it is just like any other. But let’s be honest, where is the fun in that?
In my opinion, it is not like any other day because it is YOUR birthday. If nothing it holds significance for you. Your life matters. It is so important! And we all deserve to celebrate our birth like its a national holiday. Even more, it certainly was not “just another day” for your mother who went through the physical trail of bringing you into this world. So, if you can, at least do something for your mother or in honor of the memory of her struggle, if you do not do something for yourself.
So, what did I do, you may be wondering? Well, this year I decided to treat myself to an extravagant dinner at one the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Beverly Hills, The Bazaar by Jose Andrés. A lavish, posh, up-scale eatery that offers a modern twist on classic Spanish dishes. Some years ago a good friend recommended I visit the restaurant for a sophisticated night out. However, I never seemed to make my way there. Fortunately, this year I had the good idea to remember to go for my birthday, and it was well worth the experience. I had the pleasure of being accompanied by 5 good friends, some old and some new, but all wonderful and delightful people who have some how managed to find a place in my life and in my heart. With friends like these, good food, and a gorgeous environment, I really could not have been any happier.
Personally, I have an innate attraction to beauty in all its forms: Ornate, luxurious décor meant to compliment well thought-out menus featuring combinations and pairings of unexpected flavors to create a whole new dining experience. Intimate lighting and an ambiance of sophistication that nearly demands elegance, grace, and class… these are the things that make my heart flutter. Furthermore, any reason to dress up just elicits all sorts of joy out of me. So, going to The Bazaar was the ideal choice and the best way, in my opinion, to celebrate my own personal new year.
Now, as I mentioned earlier The Bazaar offers an array of tapas-style dishes that bring together interesting flavors. Everything comes with an unexpected twist, and really, that is half the fun! You never know exactly what your ordered dish is going to look like, and my guests and I were just as excited about the presentation as we were the actually food itself. (Note: There is a slideshow at the end, if you are interested in seeing images of a all items mentioned.)
My meal started with a quick appetizer of Jicama Wrapped Guacamolé. If you are a picky eater – such as myself – then I actually recommend this restaurant even more! I can honestly say that there was not a single dish I did not enjoy, which is a rare claim to make. But that is just how good the food and preparation really is. For example, on a normal day I really cannot stand guacamolé. However, in this form, it was to put it simply… delicious! The jicama provided a refreshing crunch that balanced well with the smooth texture of the guacamolé. This was my first taste and a fitting introduction of what was to come!
The waitress, who was delightful I might add, recommended that everyone order 2 to 3 dishes and she actually encouraged the party to share among themselves. The wonderful thing about this eating style is that you are not limited to just the food on your plate. Your able to try out a number of things and play with combinations to your heart’s content. I could give you a play by play of every little thing I ate, but do not worry… I won’t. However, I will highlight my favorites! The first being the seared scallops. I did not order this one, but if I ever go again, I will be sure to do so. The seafood lover in me was satisfied but the rich, outer crust of the scallop and how it gave way to the well seasoned, softness within. You only get three on a plate, and its almost a tease! They are so very delicious that you hate for it to come to an end.
My second favorite dish came as an unexpected surprise, mostly because it was the simplest of all the dishes ordered. Called, Papas Carnarias, this dish took simple, steamed potatoes and served them with a mojo verdé sauce. It was the sauce that came as the real surprise because it gave such a richness and zest of flavor, that it literally made me look at potatoes in a whole new light! This dish won my heart just for taking the plain to extraordinary!
Finally, I had to throw my vote out there for the Sauteed Shrimp. Again, I am an avid seafood lover. If it came out of the ocean, then more often than not, I will be happy. But I love to try out a dish that you may see just about every where, because I want to see what their spin will be. Just like everything else we ordered that night, the shrimp came in a flavorful garlic, butter sauce. It was served on a gorgeous presentation of an artistic glass bowl with a chili powder that served as a garnish and an extra kick of spice to make your taste buds say, “Oh!”
Moving on, I have to state that there is more to The Bazaar than just amazing food. Living up to its namesake, the restaurant actually has an in-house retail store, Regalo, that is incorporated into the design of the restuarant. You honestly cannot tell where the restaurtant ends and the store front begins because there is seating in and around the retail shop. It is seamlessly woven into the establishment in such a way that one is not sure if its a retail shop at all. It offers a fun, eclectic assortment of unexpected odds and ends that fit the mental images one may think up when they hear the word “bazar”. From Gummi Bear inspired stress relievers to bejeweled fruits and all oddities in-between, there was many wonders to treat the eye. To add to the mystic everything is housed under glass cases.
But no folks, the night does not end there! The final topping to this already indulgent experience of food and visual wonders, is that there is a dessert bar! A pâtisserie with sweets that are as decadent as the food is delicious! By the time my company and I realized that this part of the restaurant even existed, we were already too full of food and wine to want to try anything. However, sometimes holding back can be a good thing, it gives me more to look forward to when I return; and believe me I will! The darling, blush pink boxes, menus, and accents gives the pâtisserie a playful feeling, and the pastries and chocolates on display are each placed under their own glass domes to encourage the eye to take in every little detail, and hopefully entice you to eat more!
Just a note, reservations are welcomed at The Bazaar. However, there are special stipulations for parties of 12 or more. Stipulations that require guests to spend more. Please, if you attempt to book a large party, ask about any expectations that may come along with it. That aside, the staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and accommodating – even allowing us to be seated early since we were gathered.
The night ended as wonderfully as it started! I was humbled by all the love and attention I received by such caring friends and family throughout the entire day, and I could not have planned a better evening. I received gifts, much to my surprise, that fit my personality and tastes perfectly, and just goes to show how thoughtful my friends are and how much they really do understand my inner nature. It forced me to take a step back and really appreciate those around me. As my mother used to say, “appreciate it when some one does something for you, because no one has to do thing.” In other words, do not take for granted the kindness any one shows you. Especially in this world today where kindness, appreciation, general sweetness and love… these are all found in smaller and smaller quantities.
May you always be sweetly inspired – and a little indulgent!
The Bazaar by Jose Andrés
465 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90048
Sun. – Wed.: 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Thurs. – Fri.: 6:00pm to 11:00pm
Sat: 5:30pm – 11:00pm
Unless otherwise stated, all photos were taken by A. Reneé & co. for Darling Afflatus, 2015. Images may not be used without permission.