Calling Bazaar Meat a good steakhouse is like calling Liz Taylor just another pretty face. What it is is a meat emporium pure and simple, featuring the purest of meats served in the simplest of ways — a carnivore’s heaven, if you will — stocked with the best meat on the hoof money can buy. These animals died for your sins pilgrim, and what little rapture they had on this mortal vale should not be forgotten, and you would do well to count your blessings and honor them as you feast on some of the finest protein preparations on the planet.
Religious experiences like this, however, don’t come cheap. The meal for four we experienced below (with enough food for 6-8) would have easily cost $1,000 (before tip and anything to drink), but if you’re the sort who thanks the lord when you slide a sliver of creamy, gamey and dense Jamon Ibérico de Bellota onto to your tongue (and we are), then $70 is more than worth the dispensation:
Jamon Ibérico is truly the ham all hams want to be. There is something about the nuttiness, the silkiness, and density of sensations that no other cured pork leg on earth can duplicate. Even the Italians admit their finest prosciutto can’t hold a candle to these acorn-infused wonders, and the everlasting mouthfeel will stay with you longer than alimony payments.
If those slices of salty-sweet satisfaction don’t satiate, there’s always some bison carpaccio ($26) to tweak your taste buds:
….it being a playful take on buffalo wings, incorporating a tang of blue cheese here and a spot of Frank’s hot sauce there.
Speaking of playful, the croquetas de Pollo ($12) are nuggets of deep-fried perfection — stuffed with shredded chicken in a textbook béchamel sauce, and come stuffed in a shoe:
The delivery vehicle being some sort of Spanish slang for the little darlings. Try to limit yourself to a bite or two because they are filling, but they also provide a nice creamy beginning to a meal that will, if you order correctly, will be a non-stop parade of sharp, smooth and mineral rich flavors.
The conceit of this menu is you can go big or go small, raw or cooked, large format or tiny tapas, depending on your mood and/or the size of your party. It’s really quite the stroke of genius on José Andrés’ part to re-invent the American steakhouse as a Spanish food hall, but as huge as the enterprise is (360 seats), there’s an intimacy to the space (and a softness to the lighting) that blunts any sense you’re in a head-em-up-and-move-em-out corporate cattle call.
Another stroke of brilliance is packing a meat-obsessed menu with all sorts of top-notch vegetarian and seafood items. Before we get to the meat (and believe us, we will get to the nonpareil proteins in a picosecond), perhaps a preview of these pulchritudinous palate-cleansers is preferable, or at least propitious.
Abhorrers of animal flesh will find plenty to love among the garden greens and leafy things proudly displayed at the front of the store:
Whether it’s a roasted Padron pepper ($15), or a cauliflower “steak” with pine nuts and preseved lemon ($12), or drop-your-fork-delicious Brussels sprouts “petals”with lemon “air” ($12):
…that float your boat, you’ll find plenty of antioxidants to applaud without getting within a parsec of dead animal flesh.
Pescatarians won’t complain either, since the raw bar here puts out the sweetest clams this side of Nantucket:
…giving these little bi-valves some leche de tigre (tiger milk) bite, and the texture of a Peruvian tiradito in the process.
Should your salad-seeking be of the seafood sort, you won’t find more sincere sustenance that this soupçon of lobster and Alaskan claws:
And these super-ripe tomato translations are….
….wait for it….
…technically tantalizing and transformingly terrific.
In fact, the “Beefsteak” tomato tartare (above, $18) might be the most jaw-dropping thing on the menu — it being by turns sweet and acidic, and the perfect expression of late summer eating at its best.
Now, for the show stoppers.
Knowing we were in for a panoply of pig and a cascade of cow, we took but two bites of these braised Wagyu beef cheeks ($36):
…but can still pronounce them the best braised beef we’ve had this year. The mojo rojo sauce surrounding it was finger-licking good as well, but, as is the fashion these days, there wasn’t enough of it on the plate to actually use to flavor your beef bites…so scraping the sorry schmear off the plate, and licking it off your fingers, is the only way to (im)properly enjoy it. (Sigh)
What can we say about the steaks other than they are simply sensational. We strolled over to the grill with Chef David Thomas and picked out the 28-day aged, Washugyu Ranch, Angus/Wagyu beauty in the middle of the grouping at the bottom left:
…and this is how it came to the table:
Once again, the schmear of mustard was but a suggestion of a sauce, but the steak was so full of umami succulence it hardly needed it.
They may not be doing the super-aged thing here that Carnevino does, but there’s no denying the pedigree of this beef. At $80/pound we estimate this headliner would have run around $100 for a single steak. But it was also more than enough beef for four adults, and made a mighty tasty steak sandwich the next day at the ELV manse.
Then Chef Thomas took it to “11.”
In this case with a quarter suckling pig:
…that was as succulent as its name suggests:
Just how can one describe how good it is? Put it this way: deflowering virgins hasn’t been ELV’s thing for some time now, but if he ever wanted to violate some vegan (and thought has occurred to him on many occasions), all it would take would be slipping some of this crispy, crackly, consensually concupiscent skin into where no turgid flesh has gone before, to turn them to the dark side.
If that didn’t do it, one bite of José’s S’mores — foie gras-stuffed, house-made Graham crackers:
…would do the trick.
In no time flat, all sorts of taboos would be dropping like common sense in the California legislature, and you could get on with having a proper sex…er…uh….we mean eating life, and start popping things in orifices you never thought possible…like these “Foiffles” — air waffles with foie gras espuma:
…that are so good her eyes will be rolling back in her head.
The panoply of desserts are outrageously good too:
…but right now we need a cigarette.
Bazaar Meat is about to become one of the most famous restaurants in America. Mortgage the house, rent out the kids, and go there. You won’t regret a bite of it.
Both of ELV’s meals here were comped, but sizable tips ($90 the first time; $200 the second) were left to reward the exceptional service.