January 7, 2022

Following my visit to e by Jose Andres in Las Vegas  (currently the best meal I have ever had), I was so excited to try his Bazaar Meat brand here in Chicago, just one month after it opened. This restaurant has an extensive menu so bring your appetite and some friends so you can try a wide variety. We got so much and still missed menu items I would qualify as must-haves (such as the mushroom ramen with pork).

The restaurant (sitting on the 2nd floor above Jose's Bar Mar seafood restaurant) has a terrific feel. You walk in and want to eat here. Staff is proactive and welcoming. Our waiter (Alexander) was superb - perhaps the best I've ever had. He came from Jose's Miami restaurants which says so much about the business side of Jose's empire. Impressive. 

I was most excited to have two small bite plates that mirrored two I had at e - the cotton candy fois gras and Jose's taco. The cotton candy was a disappointment, eating as a fois gras dish with some cotton candy accents and missing the crispy amaranth almost altogether. At e, it was a cotton candy dish (served as a cotton candy empanada) with just enough gamey fois gras and corn nuts (in that version) to provide incredible balance in texture and flavor. 

Fortunately, Jose's taco did not disappoint. Such a simple bite, and one you would expect to be too salty (iberico ham and ossetra caviar...with nothing to offset it). But it's magic. We ordered 2 per person and immediately requested another round. Come here for this bite alone. Trust me.

There were other stand-out dishes. The octopus was fantastic, and the kobe air bread was really unique and enjoyable. But you're here for one thing...the steaks. Taking an hour to cook (Alexander took time to describe their low and slow process, and all of its benefits), each was simply as good as it gets.

When I have great steak, I want nothing else with it - no sauce, no accompaniments. And these were great steaks! But the paired sauces were not only the standouts, they elevated each steak to new heights. The hangar and skirt steaks were beautiful - incredible cuts of beef cooked perfectly. I felt each was underseasoned before pairing with the sauces. Then I understood why. So enjoyable.

Perhaps the biggest standouts were the wines. The by-the-glass list was broad and impressive. The sommelier earnestly listened to the types of wines were enjoyed and steered us to a Chenin Blanc (perhaps my favorite type of white) and then Spanish red that are among the best wines I've ever enjoyed. Each sip made us all groan with how good they were. That enjoyment overshadowed the fact that the sommelier never checked back to see if we were actually enjoying them - the only huge miss of an otherwise near-impeccable service.

The desserts were good, though still in development (as they rightly explained out of the gate). And I'm always frustrated when these types of restaurants have crap tea, which this one did. 

That said, this was a stellar meal and I will without question revisit when I'm back in Chicago. With such broad and tantalizing options, you should too. Jose Andres knows his stuff. 

Bagel and lox cone, dill cream cheese, salmon roe
Cotton candy fois gras, crispy amaranth. Huge disappointment compared to the same dish (served as an empanada) at e.
"Jose's Taco". While e's version was better (even better quality iberico, I believe), this isi still one of the more amazing bites of my life. 4 of us ordered 8 of these, then insisted they bring another 8.
Shrimp cocktail, grapefruit, radish, mustard seed vinaigrette. A miss for sure. I love grapefruit but it completely dominated the shrimp. The spicy radish and acidic mustard seed did not cut through as it should have.
Kobe airbread, onion jam, parmesan espuma. "Eat it quickly, over your plate and fully commit. It's a mess." we were advised. Super delicate hollow bread with a parmesan cream inside. Great bite, though I was missing the onion jam which would have added a lot.
Patatas bravas - fried potatoes, spicy tomato sauce, alioli. Beautiful presentation but completely forgettable dish.
Octopus, black garlic oyster sauce, meyer lemon, furikake gremolata. One of the better octopus I have ever had. So well cooked. And the black garlic sauce was incredible.
Grilled butifarra Catalan-Style Pork Sausage Spiral...
As presented, cut up in front of us with large golden shears. Absolutely fresh and delicious, but so much fat! It at like wagyu so you couldn't get very far through it. Served with...
Pan de cristal, fresh tomato, honey alioli. Soggy tomato bread? A huge miss. Pairing the well marbled sausage with a solid baguette which could absorb and offset the fat of the sausage would have elevated this dish as a whole.
Skirt steak, rosemary-mustard sauce. Great steak, but that sauce was to die for. Really elevated the incredible meat.
Hangar steak, mojo picon. This was such an incredible piece of meat. And the sauce (made from peppers) was somehow even better than the meat! What a pairing. Could have eaten this all night.
The cook on the hangar steak was absolute perfection.
Catalan spinach, apple, pine nuts, shallots, raisins. Incredible presentation, with the little "bundles" of spinach. But the flavor was...well...just simple spinach.
Roasted leeks, salsa negra, crisp spring onion. The leek ash vinaigrette was incredible, but the leeks were cooked to mush. Not a great side at all.
Setas al ajillo - button mushrooms, garlic, nasturtium. Wow! Immense flavor and beautiful presentation!
Their signature ribeye, 1/2 wagyu. An incredible cut of meat. The cap pieces may be among the best steak I have ever had.
The cook on that ribeye...also incredible.
Chocolate banana soufflé, caramelized banana ice cream. Super rich and heavy soufflé (with carmelized bananas at the bottom). That ice cream was incredible though.
Honey cake, honeycomb, sour cream mousse, grapefruit-Campari sorbet
Coconut nitro floating island, banana, passionfruit, vanilla. Oddly the winner of the desserts I thought.
The meat fridge as you walk in.

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