Ever since I heard about Bazaar opening in the SLS hotel last year, my taste buds have been waiting for the chance to experience the wonders of Jose Andres‘ skill in a Philippe Starck setting. I finally went for my birthday last week-end and I can say now that not only are my taste buds still in awe, but I can’t wait to go back for more. The tapas menu is three pages long, so we lingered over drinks as we tried to narrow down our choices. My sweet drink loving friend Cindy loved the peach Bellini, while Rohini and I had their driest white wine, served in beautiful stemless Riedel glassware.

We began with a mixed marinated beet salad, which Cindy claimed as her dish after one bite of the smooth, slightly tart dish.

We segued on to the delicate garlic shrimp which were so good I could have easily eaten a dozen, but since we had more orders coming, I contented myself with two.

The Smoked Char arrived in a clear cloche because it was literally smoking as it arrived! As our wonderful server opened the cloche, the smoke enveloped the table, allowing us to inhale the heady perfume. This was my favorite dish of the evening. The Char was so mouthwatering that when there was only a tiny bite left, I literally covered the plate so the bus person could not take it away until the last bite was in my mouth!

As we moved on to more seafood, we couldn’t decide which tuna to order, the one cooked with roasted peppers or the tuna ceviche avocado roll (which was literally rolled IN avocado slices), so we ordered both. I preferred the tuna ceviche roll and our waiter Ryan was kind enough to comp us one after we inhaled the first one that arrived. (Ryan also comped us bread and chocolate covered raspberries as gifts; we thanked him for his thoughtfulness with a nice tip.)

We decided to end our savory journey with the crab buns, a cool creamy bite on perfect puffs of bun.

Since they no longer serve the caramelized popcorn balls, we asked our waiter for his dessert suggestion. Ryan simply said Coconut Floating Island and we ordered it without even listening to a description. It was the perfect cloud of chilled coconut foam floating on slices of bananas and caramel; once you broke the dome, the foam flowed like a cloud over the plate, it was so much fun to eat!

All I know is I got my birthday wish of great friends and great food in a gorgeous setting! And I didn’t even have to blow out a candle to get it all!