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.