The Bazaar by José Andrés

Dry ice, blowtorches, no income tax—all gimmicks that work well in Vegas and Miami, but aren’t really New York’s style. But The Bazaar, a restaurant with locations in Vegas, Miami and elsewhere, attempts to pull some of these tricks in NYC too. This upscale José Andrés spot has a different menu in every city, and the Noho edition does Spanish food made using Japanese techniques. It isn’t quite fusion, but flavor-wise, it actually works. Unfortunately, everything else about it is pretty annoying. 

Located at the Ritz-Carlton, The Bazaar tries its best, with art deco chandeliers and paintings of 17th century sailors, not to feel like a hotel restaurant. It feels like one anyway. (We think it’s the hotel lobby-style chairs). The official dress code is “sophisticated and chic,” but if you, like us, think wearing a button-down to eat a piece of toro wrapped in cotton candy is preposterous, you can show up in a T-shirt, and you’ll still get seated.

The menu consists mostly of two-bite creations, like miniature tuna empanadas, and molecular olives. The portions are laughably tiny, and despite all the super luxe ingredients, this makes the restaurant feel like a parody of itself. That said, the little food you do get generally tastes good, and we’re not too grumpy to enjoy some wagyu seared on an ishiyaki stone tableside by a man in a nice suit. 

We’re used to shelling out for wagyu. One small piece of toro on a stick for $18, or a few bites of potatoes pau gasol priced at $46—thanks to the addition of caviar—not so much. If you’re staying at the Ritz-Carlton and feeling homesick for a city with a higher tolerance for foodie magic shows, you could give this place a whirl. The rest of us are still paying that New York City income tax.