The tables haven’t arrived yet. And the menu is far from finalized. But as executive chef David Thomas gives me my first tour of the unfinished Bazaar Meat by superstar chef José Andrés in SLS Las Vegas, an idea of what the enigmatic restaurant will be is finally starting to emerge.
The first thing that strikes me about Bazaar Meat is its size and setup. As you enter, you’ll note the Bazaar Casino, a small gambling pit surrounded by circular banquettes on the perimeters and sofa seating in the center, where you can enjoy a selection of menu items from the restaurant and observe the beautiful people entering and exiting Life Nightclub just a few feet away. (Eating at the actual gaming tables is prohibited.)
To the right of the entrance is the massive main dining room, which seats about 400. A good half of the seats will be at long communal tables, with the balance comprising individual tables for a more private dining experience. Along one side, a massive tapestry with a hunting lodge motif is all that separates the restaurant from the line of partiers heading into Life, while silver alligator heads protrude from the exposed columns. Opposite those, a string of exposed cooking stations lead to the entrance of a private dining room.
As the restaurant’s name implies, the focus here is on meat (with seafood and vegetable options also available). But as Andrés told me via email from Spain the day before my tour, this isn’t a typical steakhouse. “This will be a meat concept unlike any other!” he promised.
That becomes obvious as Thomas walks me past the various cooking stations, all open so guests can watch their dishes being prepared. First up is the Fire Stage. Toward the front of it are Josper ovens—a combination charcoal grill and oven from Spain. According to Thomas, they can burn as high as 800 degrees and can cook a whole chicken in 12 minutes, imparting, Thomas says, “the crispiest skin you’ve ever seen.” Behind them are the wood-burning terracotta ovens. Tucked away in the back is a whole-animal station, where items such as suckling pig are rotisserie cooked, delivered whole in a cazuela (Spanish terracotta dish) to the table on a gueridon cart and then carved.
Past the fire station is the traditional hot line that you’d find in most kitchens. Next to that, however, is what may be Bazaar’s most unique feature: the Meat Bar. Here, in what looks a lot like a sushi bar, chefs will create both classic and nontraditional tartares and carpaccios, hand-cut and shaved to order before a long table of diners. Charcuterie will also be available here.
The final open cooking station is for seafood, and is located in the 50-seat private dining room. Guests here won’t be limited to their private dining experience but, like those in the main room, will also get to observe chefs cooking for the entire restaurant.
The meats at Bazaar—which I’m told will include game—will all be carefully sourced from small producers around the world, but primarily the United States, parts of Canada and Spain. “The whole thing is really trying to identify smaller farmers who are doing the right thing, and be able to bring their product here and showcase it to the world,” Thomas tells me.
As in Andrés’ tapas restaurants, most items will be meant for sharing. “It’s not like [just] you get the filet. You get the strip. And you get the T-bone,” Thomas says. “We want everything to come to the middle [of the table] so that you can enjoy it together and then try the next thing, and the next thing.”
It’s obvious, even at this incomplete stage, that Bazaar Meats won’t be anything like other steakhouses or even like any of Andrés’ other restaurants. “I always say I am not just a chef, but really a storyteller,” Andrés says. “Every one of my restaurants tells its own unique story, and takes you on a new adventure!”
Your adventure begins on August 23.