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Jun 1, 2010 12:31 AM

Bazaar? Hm...I'd rather go to Providence or Melisse.

First time was a great experience. The "wow" factor was way up there.

Second time came up last week. And I have to say, remove the novelty factor of a first time experience and the place kinda stumbles.

In some ways, many ways - the service was vastly improved over my first time. (which was fairly disastrous, but the food was so much fun it couldn't spoil the evening) But, when someone in our party pointed out that her favorite dish (which she has had it many times) was too salty - the server took back the course and...skipped right onto the next course. We never saw that dish again. We had a tasting menu too. But no dessert came? Weird. And can they tell the servers to explain the arriving food in a little more detail? A little more fanfare? A little more excitement? Part of the dining experience, part of a whole dining experience is the little bit of theatre that can go along with the presentation of a course.

The foie gras in the little buns? Great. The asparagus in some kind of bland white sauce? Not so great. Too many dishes were simply just good, or not bad. But just not enough were stellar.

I'll go back if a group wants to do it, but I won't go back when I can have far more interesting meals at Providence or Melisse.

Which brings me to another point. Irene Virbilia gives Bazaar 4 stars (the max), but only gives Providence and Melisse each 3 stars. Really? This is wrong. IMHO - shamefully wrong. If I were her (or if she was channeling me) Bazaar is good for 2 stars. And by that rating, Melisse and Providence should both get 4.

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  1. foodiemahoodie,

    i could not agree any more. been to melisse once long time back, but been to providence quite a few times, and bazaar once, and never again. in the vein of inventive food, i'd also give a 4 to animal.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jacknhedy

      Animal gets a 4+ from me for inventive food and very, very fair prices.

      1. re: Servorg

        Agreed. I'm not sure how they only got ONE in the LAT. When you're giving 4 stars to Patina but only 3 to Providence, Melisse, and Urasawa, I think you're pretty much irrelevant.

        Urasawa Restaurant
        218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

        1. re: ramenbound

          While I have never been, the fact that the food focus is quite narrow might have had something to do with it.
          My favorite place now is Hatfields in its new space on Melrose. Works very well on every level, and SIV did give it 3 stars, and every one of them was well deserved.

    2. I think the service at Melisse is lovely (although I really don't like the new purple room Vegas-y thing they've got going) but I just don't think there's anything very interesting at all about the food there. My last visit, everything was very good, but I can't recall a single dish. At those prices, I feel like the kitchen should be sending out at least one dish in the tasting menu that makes me moan and that just didn't happen.

      8 Replies
      1. re: mollyomormon

        I agree with you re Melisse. I would take Providence any day.

        1. re: mbh65

          I just came from Melisse and it was a "moan" dinner. I'm not posting a full review because I sound like a broken record when I review Melisse, because my last two meals were fantastic.

          Tonight, I had two different preparations of asparagus. One was white asparagus with morels in an earthy mushroom sauce and the other was green asparagus with a Santa Barbara prawn, with a separate dish that consisted of a soft boiled egg over thin asparagus slices. Both were "moan"-worthy.

          The second course was truffle encrusted dover sole, sauteed and served tableside with gnocchi and diced mushrooms. The sauce had a hint of something tart, almost like sorrel and was a fantastic complement to the fish. I don't know many fish that would make me "moan," but this was among the best sole I've ever had.

          The next "moan" dish was a rotisserie chicken carved tableside over what are called mashed potatoes, but really are cream and potato puree. Served with more perfectly cooked asparagus and morels with an earthy sauce that brought everything together. It was divine. As if that wasn't enough, they removed the legs and prepared them in a chicken soup that was like the essence of chicken. A rich broth with pieces of the chicken leg and dense with carrots and celery. My stepmother did actually moan as she tasted that soup.

          I won't go into details about the four-part chocolate dessert, except to mention that the chocolate souffle and the peanut-chocolate bar elicited more moans from our table.

          I've had three meals at Melisse in the past year and all were far superior to my last meal at Providence.

          1. re: Jwsel

            Hi Jwsel,

            Is their Rotisserie Chicken always on the menu? Or was it part of a Tasting Menu that changes? Thanks.

            1. re: exilekiss

              I think it's always on the menu. At least, since Melisse opened, they have always had a chicken for two on the menu that is served tableside. It requires an hour preparation. It is not listed on the tasting menu, but you can ask them to split it for two people on the four-course tasting menu with a supplement. (You can do the same with the cote de boeuf for two, which also is excellent.)

        2. re: mollyomormon

          Have you tried the egg caviar? Or the sweet corn ravioli with truffle jus?

          I was there a few weeks ago and had abalone with sea urchin. Salivating a little just typing this.

          Or perhaps our tastes simply differ.

          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            Yeah, the egg caviar was definitely a "moan" dish. I may or may not have actually moaned while eating. Though thankfully the rest of the room was distracted by the amazingly hilarious fight going on at the table next to ours.

            1. re: foodiemahoodie

              The egg caviar at Melisse is one of the best things I"ve ever put in my mouth.

            2. re: mollyomormon

              I far prefer Melisse to Providence, having now been to each restaurant at least twice. To some extent, I think it is a question of preference -- ie, if you like classic French cooking, Melisse provides perfectly executed meals every time. My friends who prefer a "lighter" meal prefer Providence. Given an infinite menu, my preferred meal will always be a seared foie gras followed by a duck breast, and Melisse does those two dishes impeccably. I've also had an amazing, moan-worthy tomato soup at melisse with a tomato sorbet. For me, I don't believe in inventive food for the sake of being inventive -- I would prefer something that is just GOOD and done perfectly. Out of 18+ dishes at Melisse, there's only been one that I've ever felt was not perfectly executed (and even then, I thought it was conceptualized correctly). Each of the two times I've been to Providence, there's been at least one dish where I've questioned either the conception of a dish or the execution, which is far too many for a restaurant of its reputation and caliber. But, to be fair to Providence, it is a fish heavy menu, and I prefer land animals to fish.

            3. I completely agree on the diminishing "wow factor" and have no interest in going back to Bazaar for a third time. As for the "star" scale in the LAT reviews ... look at how long it took them just to give two stars to Mori Sushi. Hardly worth taking their stars as any indicator.

              However, should we compare it to French restaurants, or are there equivalent Spanish establishments that can stand up to foams and such with traditional fare?

              I am not aware of any - and the one that I remember was ok but not up to that level. Maybe pure Spanish cuisine doesn't have a hold here as well as the Cal/French does?

              1 Reply
              1. re: antonis

                There may be several reasons, but something worth noting is that Spanish food does not by definition require foams, gelees, warm gelees, fluid gels, spherifications, airs, cotton candy, or any other hocus pocus. We can thank Mr. Adria for this association, but in Spain there are restaurants like Can Fabes which are more traditional but still very luxurious. And even in the inventive modern style there are places like El Poblet, but Los Angeles is a long ways from attaining a restaurant of this caliber.

              2. I was really looking forward to dinner at The Bazaar this past Friday night, and it did not live up to the hype & expectations. Would definitely have rather spent the $200 at Providence or Animal (have not been to Melisse).

                With the exception of the Waygu "Philly Cheesesteak" nothing else was really extraordinary or stood out. Other items we had included: Sweet Potato Chips with Yogurt, Not Your Everyday Caprese, Catalan Spinach with Apple, Pine Nuts & Raisins, Cotton Candy Foie Gras, Codfish Fritters, some sort of Lamb served with diced vegetables.

                What was most disappointing was the service. We were immediately brought the Sweet Potato Chips & Caprese...and then nothing else came out for almost 20 minutes. And everything else came out at the same time despite the server saying the items would be brought out in waves. And when the dishes were brought out there was no real explanation as to what they were; the server just kind of threw them on the table.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Obessed

                  We had dinner at Hatfield's last night, and the service could not have been more attentive and professional and the food exceptional. However, we did not order the tasting menu and all seven of us felt that the portions were very small (we each had an appetizer and entree). In fact, we were a little hungry when we left...