CUT (Beverly Hills, CA)

Beverly Wilshire Hotel
9500 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Dining date: 9/1/11

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When asked what my favorite steakhouse is, CUT has been my answer since first dining here over 4 years ago. While it’s been years since I’ve been to CUT, I’ve been reminded of their food at each American Wine & Food Festival. They’ve always had some of the best things to eat (which is saying a lot for that festival), including last year’s American wagyu New York with Maine lobster and black truffles. Given that festival is now defunct, what better time to revisit CUT and reassess if it’s still my favorite steakhouse.

Not only do I think they have the best steak, but I’ve also found the restaurant to be surprisingly well-rounded for a steakhouse….I could see why they were awarded a Michelin star in the latest guide. The appetizer menu typically has some interesting items such as a bone marrow flan, veal tongue salad, or oxtail bouillon.

The variety of beef is also some of the best I’ve seen in an LA steakhouse.

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Various domestic USDA Prime cuts of beef are available, but what separates CUT is the American wagyu (above, left) and 100% wagyu from Australia (above, right). My last trip to CUT was actually when I got my first taste of Japanese wagyu beef. Sadly, it’s no longer available due to the disease that crippled the breed last year, but the Australian wagyu is still something special (and at $20+ per ounce, definitely a splurge).

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Compliments of the kitchen, these light “cheese balls” were quite nice. The cheese was somewhat subtle but present, and was just enough to whet the appetite.

Bone Marrow Flan, Mushroom Marmalade, Parsley Salad

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This sounded irresistible on the menu and it didn’t disappoint. The bone marrow flan had the savory richness of bone marrow, yet in a lighter custard form. I don’t always love bone marrow straight (too heavy), so this was an ideal vehicle for it. The mushroom sauce added extra richness and depth.

Butter Lettuce, Avocado, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Champagne-Herb Vinaigrette

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Austrian Oxtail Bouillon, Chervil, Bone Marrow Dumplings

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This was a hearty soup with a deep flavor somewhere between beef and chicken. I don’t think it was purely an oxtail-based broth, but I’m not sure. Loved the chunks of rich oxtail meat, as well as the light bone marrow dumplings.

After much consideration, we opted not to get any wagyu and just stick to the domestic ribeyes.

Bone In Rib Eye Steak 20 Oz U.S.D.A. PRIME, Illinois Corn Fed, Aged 21 Days

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Rib Eye Steak 16 Oz U.S.D.A. PRIME, Nebraska Corn Fed, Dry Aged 35 Days

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Honestly I thought the differences between these two ribeyes were subtle. Both were excellent, displaying a wonderful crusty, charred sear as well as a juicy, pink interior. The meat was beefy for sure, succulent and tender. I enjoyed every last bite. I thought my steak was cooked just right (medium-rare, above), though one person thought their ‘medium’ was a bit underdone.

We ordered three sides to go with the steaks. These were all served family-style and portioned out at the table. I found all of them to be pretty good, but nothing special. They’re meant to be simple.

Cavatappi Pasta “Mac & Cheese” Quebec Cheddar

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At $19, this was easily the most expensive truffle-less mac & cheese dish I’ve ever had. For sure a solid mac & cheese, but not as memorable as the price tag would suggest.

Creamed Spinach with Fried Organic Egg

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I don’t really recall where the fried egg was, but it might’ve been chopped finely into the creamed spinach. Similar to the mac & cheese, it was good but I’m not in a rush to order it again.

Yukon Gold Potato Puree

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The last side order was a ‘must’ for me – a simple mashed potatoes (I just love mashed potatoes with steak). Very rich and creamy, there must’ve been a generous amount of butter and cream.

Dark Chocolate Soufflé, Whipped Crème Fraiche, Gianduja Chocolate Ice Cream

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I thought this was quite good. Served hot, the souffle had a little bit of the bitterness characteristic of dark chocolate. The gianduja ice cream (chocolate-hazelnut) added the bulk of the sweetness and, combined with the whipped creme fraiche, created some pretty rich, creamy mouthfuls.


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CUT reaffirmed my opinion of it being the top steakhouse in the city. The steaks at CUT were top-notch and although the sides weren’t anything special, I don’t think they were trying to be. While many debate the merits of Mastro’s steaks, I really don’t think there’s much of a comparison. The food at CUT is much more well-rounded, and the variety and quality of beef far superior. I will say that, unfortunately, it is also quite a bit more expensive though.

Marché Moderne (Costa Mesa, CA)

Marché Moderne
South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Dining date: 9/26/11

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I often see Marché Moderne near the top (or atop) lists of the best Orange County restaurants. Located in a mall (South Coast Plaza), I suspect many mall-goers that walk by may not realize the accolades garnished upon this place. The restaurant serves upscale French bistro fare in a really quaint setting that almost makes you forget you’re in a large mall. Almost.

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I’ve been for lunch once (trying just one dish) and I thought it was pretty good. I’ve wanted to come for dinner for years now but just haven’t gotten to it. An occasion to meet some family friends in Orange County for lunch would be the perfect opportunity to drop by again.

The restaurant offers a 3-course lunch menu for $20 ($25 on the weekend), changing often. Quite a deal considering a 3-course a la carte meal can easily reach the higher double-digits. I think almost all of the lunch diners opt for that menu…we certainly did.

Smoked Salmon cucumber, mint, yogurt, freshly baked scone, arugula

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The first course was a lightly-smoked salmon on a bed of spinach and arugula. Both the salmon and greens were solid, but the freshly baked scone was delightful – warm, buttery and tasty. I didn’t think the scone really fit in with the rest of the plate, but I still enjoyed it.

Milanese of Pork Filet horseradish & dijon pommes puree, caper tomato tartare, micro arugula

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One of the entree options was this pork, pounded thin and breaded milanese-style. It was pretty moist and tender, complemented well by the crunchy breading and salty acidity of capers and tomatoes. A dijon-horseradish potato puree was nice as well.

Provencal Butter Roasted Shrimp Israeli couscous, blistered cherry tomatoes, yuzu emulsion, micro citrus

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The second entree option was shrimp, just cooked through with roasted cherry tomatoes and a couscous. The sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes worked well with the shrimp, while the couscous provided a welcome grounding of flavors. The creamy emulsion of yuzu provided some welcome citrus flavors as well.

Peach Gateau caramel, chantilly

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Lastly, dessert was a peach gateau with caramel sauce and chantilly cream. Served warm, the gateau was rich and buttery, though the peach flavor was lost. Pretty comforting, nonetheless. The chantilly cream helped to lighten things up a bit.

The three course menu at Marché Moderne was solid. Nothing exactly memorable, but it was a well-executed variety of flavors. For three courses at $20, it presented a ton of value and a budget-friendly opportunity to try the restaurant. I do need to return here for dinner, eventually, as I feel it’ll be a much different experience.

ink. (Los Angeles, CA)

8360 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Dining date: 9/23/11 and 9/25/11

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ink. is probably the most highly anticipated restaurant opening in LA this year. Since winning “Top Chef” season 6, Michael Voltaggio’s popularity has skyrocketed, and the city (and nation?) has been eagerly awaiting his next venture since leaving The Dining Room at the Langham more than a year ago. Outside of “Top Chef,” Voltaggio’s largely known in LA for being opening chef de cuisine of The Bazaar and being executive chef of The Dining Room at the Langham for a short period of time. While I left my sole meal at The Dining Room at the Langham a little disappointed, I’ve been able to try some of Voltaggio’s food at food festivals and pop-ups (which have left a more favorable impression).

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Not surprisingly, reservations filled up quickly, with the first 30 days being fully booked within the first hour of availability. Opening night was September 21st, and this post is a compilation of both of my visits during opening weekend.

The menu is made up of around 20 items, all small plates meant for sharing. While the server recommended ordering 3-4 dishes per person, I found a party of four was the perfect size to try one of each.

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hamachi parsnip cream, grapefruit, jalapeno, sesame

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I enjoyed the raw hamachi, especially in tandem with the light citrus of the grapefruit. I was a little concerned that the heat of the jalapeno would overpower, but it was sliced so thin that the heat was present only for a moment. The sesame sponge provided an earthy, nutty flavor profile.

young turnips and radishes coffee-cardamom soil, vadouvan, frozen yogurt

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I liked the texture from the “soil” here, but I didn’t find the coffee or cardamom flavors to be present. That may have been for the best, as the turnip and radish flavors were rather subdued as well. The frozen yogurt here was fun, looking kind of like snow on a plate.

blue prawns green papaya, finger lime, coconut

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This was one of the stronger dishes of the night. The shrimp was cooked but served cool, sweet and plump. Loved the texture. The lime provided a welcome acidity, while the slivers of green papaya added a slight crunch too. I liked the coconut too, served in a light and airy sponge form.

dungeness crab toast, smoked mayo, house made hot sauce, avocado

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These were essentially crab spring rolls filled with a lot of crab (love that!). I enjoyed the crisp exterior of the rolls, while the avocado (in two textures, a foam and a sphere) made a good balance with the smoky mayo.

corned beef tongue appenzeller cheese, red onion, pastrami oil, horseradish

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This was a fun play on the corned beef sandwich. A paper-thin cracker took the place of the bread, while thin pieces of tender tongue brought the meatiness. I thought the cheese/horseradish sauce was actually very light and really brought everything together.

beef tartare horseradish, hearts of palm, sea bean chimichurri

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On visit #2, the corned beef sandwich morphed into this dish. I probably liked this iteration even better. The thin cracker was still present, while a light horseradish “cream” and beef tartare came into play here. I really liked the horseradish with the beef, as well as the small bursts of flavor with each bite of the hearts of palm.

bay scallops cream of dehydrated potato, potato skins, buttermilk-shellfish broth

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Another hit here – I feel like bay scallops are so often overcooked (and never the focal point of the dish). Here, Voltaggio was able to get a nice sear on each scallop without overcooking, while the cream of potato added a warm, creamy potato flavor that worked very well. The small pieces of potato skin were key too, adding more potato flavor and a subtle texture. Visit #2 included bone marrow, but I had a hard time picking up that flavor. Still, perhaps my favorite dish.

sea bass lemon, caper, brown butter, romanesco, anchovy

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The sea bass was cooked perfectly – crispy skin with moist, flaky flesh. The lemon and caper sauce was added with restraint, with just a salty citrus flavor coming through. The romanesco cauliflower ensured I was getting my vegetables.

seaweed mashed potatoes sea grass, sea beans

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Fun! It tasted pretty much as it sounded, and the consistency was really smooth and rich. Loved the color too.

octopus buttered popcorn, piquillo pepper, spinach

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The octopus was tender yet slightly chewy in a welcome way. The sweetness of the piquillo was nicely balanced by the spinach, though I’m not sure if I got any of the popcorn flavor in this dish.

black cod red pepper dashi, shishito peppers, kelp pasta

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The black cod was really silky, almost slimy actually…but I liked it. A little bit of heat was provided in the dashi and shishito, while an interesting kelp pasta (what?) added some extra body, though not a ton of flavor.

spaghetti giant squid, squash, hazelnut-ink pesto, piment d’espilette

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Speaking of sea-inspired pastas, here was another one. More like a tagliatelle than spaghetti, the strands of giant squid were delicate and chewy. The hazelnut-ink pesto and piment d’espilette stepped in to add some depth, while there was something wonderfully crunchy at the bottom of the dish (not sure what it was).

quail charred orange and onion, sorrel salad

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The quail was tender and very juicy, well-executed. Quite delicious and the onion and sorrel brought a balancing sweetness and earthiness. Visit #2 brought an interesting banana polenta. I liked it, but I’m not sure my sentiment was shared by the whole table.

Iberian pork saffron-pear, salsify, black olive oil

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The pork was tender but not as moist as expected. The pears went well with the pork though, while fried salsify added a nice crispy texture.

veal cheek red curry, nante carrots baked in salt, fried sticky rice

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The veal cheek was exceedingly tender and delicious. Very rich. A subtle curry flavor added some depth, and I enjoyed the fried sticky rice for its crispiness.

beef short rib sweet and sour mushrooms, mushroom chicharron, black garlic

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The short rib was prepared well, leaving it quite tender and meaty. There was a very concentrated sauce that I thought somewhat overwhelmed the meat, though. On visit #2, one of the pieces of short rib was more gristle/tendon than meat, something I wasn’t a fan of.

Moving on from the savory dishes, four desserts were offered.

goat cheese ash, concord grape, arugula

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The goat cheese was well-balanced by the bitterness of the arugula (in sponge form) and sweetness of the grape. Not being a huge fan of goat cheese, I found this pretty easy to eat…but I’m still far from a lover of the stuff.

grapefruit curd avocado, cilantro sorbet, charred maple-lime

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Loved the cilantro sorbet here…it might’ve stolen the show. So refreshing and addicting. The grapefruit curd wasn’t too shabby either.

apple crème caramel, burnt wood sabayon, walnut

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A number of components here, but I think each came through. Apple and caramel flavors were present in the crumble, while the burnt wood ice cream added an interesting smokiness. Kind of reminiscent of bacon. Weird, but I liked it.

chocolate coffee, spice

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This playful dish came out with wisps of steam, likely from the application of some liquid nitrogen. Chocolate and coffee flavors were front and center in this one. The spices came through too, adding a savory element to the sweet dish.

Finally, drinks. I was able to try a number of cocktails throughout the meals.

aperol gin, cardamaro, orange

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rum lime, house falernum

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tequila serrano, lime, grapefruit, soda

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mezcal lemon, ginger, clover honey, angostura bitters

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scotch lemon, apple cider, egg white, cinnamon

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My favorite was probably the tequila. It had a balanced amount of heat from the serrano and citrus from the lime and grapefruit. One that fell flat was the aperol, tasting like a watered down orange soda.

Coffee using Stumptown beans was also available, brewed at the table via chemex. The first night’s cup was quite good, but the water wasn’t hot enough on visit #2, yielding a fairly watered-down brew.

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Both of my meals at ink. were strong efforts. Given the massive amount of hype, I feared that the food just wouldn’t be able to live up to it (similar to what happened at The Dining Room at the Langham). However, I think Voltaggio has created something that meets the lofty expectations. Sure there were some things I didn’t like as much, but the hits easily outnumbered them. I expect dishes to continue to be refined in time (I already saw some of it in 48 hours), making things even better. Overall the food was expectantly imaginative, interesting and most of all, quite delicious. While Voltaggio’s popularity will bring the customers in, the food is what will bring them back.

I thought the desserts stood up to the rest of the meal too, offering dishes that were creative and unique. I was especially interested in the fact that savory elements (cilantro, avocado, smoke, arugula) made their way into each dessert.

Lastly, service was pretty on-point for a first week. Plates came out at a good pace (almost too quick, even). On visit #1 we were seated promptly, but waited 45 minutes past the reservation time on visit #2 (apparently due to parties sticking around after paying). Less than ideal at 9:30pm on a Sunday night. However, the staff was most apologetic and comp’d us cocktails and desserts. A restaurant this popular didn’t need to give a shit, but it did.

Fried Chicken @ Farmshop (Santa Monica, CA)

225 26th St
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Dining date: 9/17/11

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I always hear about Farmshop in discussions about the best brunches in LA. I’ve wanted to try it for some time, but given its Brentwood location I haven’t made it out there yet. However, the restaurant just began dinner service, something that clearly expedited my first visit.

Chef/owner Jeff Cerciello left Thomas Keller’s side last year to pursue his own project. Cerciello had a hand in all of Keller’s projects, but Ad Hoc seems to be the one that struck him most…at least for dinner service. The concept for the dinners seems truly to be inspired by Ad Hoc’s. Dinners are market-driven 3-4 courses served family-style ($40-$60), continually rotating. I’ve known that Farmshop was planning to serve dinner (and an Ad Hoc-like fried chicken) for a while now, so when it was announced that this past Sunday would be the first fried chicken night I had to drop by.

Heirloom Tomato Salad reed avocado, pickled red onion & opal basil

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An appetizer duo came out first. The salad was light and refreshing; I thought the meaty chunks of avocado went really well with the sweet acidity of the tomatoes and pickled red onion, while the fresh basil added some depth.

House-made Ricotta & Pistachio Salsa Verde

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The whipped fresh ricotta was a little more interesting and pretty tasty. The consistency was like a light whipped cream with some citrus (lime juice?). The flatbread was a little thicker than expected; combined with the pistachios I thought it was sort of a textural overload.

Herbed Fried Chicken

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Next came what we’d been waiting for…the chicken. The crust was richly and uniformly browned, topped with an assortment of herbs. Upon my first bite (into white meat), I was impressed with the juiciness of the bird. It was full of flavor and displayed a lemon-herb essence from the brine. Expectantly, the dark meat was moist as well with a wonderful depth of flavor. A little bit of the crunchy crust in every bite made for some great fried chicken.

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The comparison to Ad Hoc’s chicken is unavoidable. They’re pretty similar actually, but I thought this chicken was more moist than the Ad Hoc chicken served at Bouchon Beverly Hills, and maybe even more than I remember at Ad Hoc (maybe – I need to return soon). There’s more of a lemon flavor coming through in the meat too, which I liked.

Two sides came with the fried chicken.

Cabbage, Fennel, Cucumber & Poppy Seed Slaw

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Sweet Corn & Peppers

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Both of these had just a few carefully chosen ingredients. I thought both dishes made good companions to the chicken, mainly for the sweetness of the peppers and corn and the crisp, cool acidity of the slaw.

Poached Peaches frog hollow farm peaches, lemon curd & oatmeal cookies

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The peaches were delicious and sweet, while the curd added a countering tartness. The oatmeal cookies were pretty good too, adding the textural element. Would’ve preferred them warm, but still good. I appreciated ending with something rather light, showcasing some “farm-fresh” ingredients (notably, the peaches).

Within the same complex that houses Farmshop is Sweet Rose Creamery, a shop I see on ‘top ice cream’ lists over and over. This would be the perfect opportunity for me to finally visit.

Sweet Rose
225 26th St
Santa Monica, CA 90402

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A number of flavors are available each night (some permanent, some rotating), as well as some sweet treats like ice cream sandwiches, bon bons, milkshakes, floats and sundaes. Given it was our first time (and we were already kind of full), we kept it simple.

Toasted almond and chocolate hazelnut

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Salted caramel, chocolate waffle cone

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Coffee and chocolate hazelnut

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The ice cream was pretty money. While none of us liked the almond (it was too grainy), everything else was very good. I really liked the coffee (made using Verve coffee beans) – it had a really deep, rich coffee flavor. Felt like it was gonna keep me up all night. The salted caramel was top notch too, and probably the best I’ve had in the city (even over Carmela).

Overall, I was pretty impressed with Farmshop’s meal. The food was rather simple and well-executed, showcasing some great ingredients. Most importantly on this night, the fried chicken was delicious and has to be some of the best gourmet fried chicken in the city right now. I’ll be curious to see what else is being offered for dinner and would try them out too.

The atmosphere/decor is pretty casual, but somewhat uncomfortable. Even though we had reservations, we were seated at a center communal table with benches. I understand the casual atmosphere, but unless I’m in a bar/lounge or quick-serve restaurant, I’d really appreciate an actual chair as my back starts to hurt after a couple courses.

Test Kitchen Reunion (Los Angeles, CA)

Test Kitchen (Sotto)
9575 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Dining date: 9/19/11

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Test Kitchen’s run ended almost a year ago now, but its spirit lives on. The Townhouse hosted a reunion to celebrate the one-year anniversary of TK with two simultaneous dinners (one upstairs and one downstairs, $70 each) with completely different chef/mixologist lineups. While the idea of attending both dinners back-to-back did come up, the sensible mind suggested just choosing one.

Upstairs saw Ricardo Zarate (Picca, Mo-Chica) and Roy Choi (Kogi) manning the stoves with pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez (Mozza) on dessert. Julian Cox (Rivera, Playa, Sotto, Picca), Matt Wagner (Rivera), Dave Kupchinsky (Eveleigh), and Krishna Vutla (Picca) handled cocktail duties.

The downstairs kitchen was shared by Steve Samson & Zach Pollack (Sotto), Walter Manzke (Republique), Nancy Silverton (Mozza), David Lefevre (MB Post), Matt Molina (Mozza) and pastry chef Davide Giova (Valentino). Davidson Fernie (Playa, Harvard & Stone), Joel Black, Kate Grutman (Sotto) and Mark Mendoza (Sona, Comme Ca) were behind the bar.

I’m a big fan of Walter Manzke’s food, and given that I can only taste his food at various pop-ups and food festivals, the choice was clear for me – downstairs. Plus, I’ve enjoyed meals at each of Sotto, Osteria/Pizzeria Mozza and MB Post, so I was excited to see what they would cook too.

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NANCY SILVERTON – Burrata with Caviar, Red Onions, Egg and Chives

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The first course featured one of the things Silverton is most known for: mozzarella. Here the silky, creamy burrata was topped with caviar, which added a wonderful salinity. I liked the raw red onions too, adding some bright flavors to each bite. Really simple…really good.

WALTER MANZKE – Zucchini and Basil Risotto

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A late summer risotto, I liked that this dish featured some bright, clean flavors from the cherry tomatoes and basil. Mini bursts of flavor. Meanwhile, the zucchini, nuts and rice added the bulk of the texture. Quite nice.

MATT MOLINA – Calf’s Brain Ravioli with Sage and Lemon

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Calf’s brain is something that would probably strike fear in many diners, I’ve never found anything “weird” about it. I’ve had calf’s brain ravioli at Osteria Mozza before (as part of the tasting menu), and I remember it being a good one.  This one did not disappoint either with a rich, smooth and meaty filling packed into al dente ravioli. The butter-based sauce displayed both the lemon and sage flavors, complementing the pasta.

DAVID LEFEVRE – Braised Pork with Crispy Gnocchi, Summer Squash, Bianco Sardo

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This was likely my favorite dish of the night. Rich and tender pieces of pork shoulder were smothered in its braising liquid, while light pieces of crispy gnocchi were paired alongside. The pork itself was succulent and delicious, while the cheese added a nice richness, helping bring the gnocchi and pork together. I appreciated the pieces of fresh squash in between bites of meat.

STEVE AND ZACH – American Wagyu Brisket and Tongue alla Griglia, Cauliflower Stracotto, Piper’s Arugula, Salsa Verde

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This dish was another good one, with two nice pieces of meat braised until fork-tender. I’m a big fan of tongue and actually preferred it over the brisket here. I thought the arugula and salsa verde were key, adding a peppery bite and acidity, respectively, to the rich meats.  The cauliflower stracotto was something new for me, and I thought it was a welcome addition.

DAVIDE GIOVA – Cassatina

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This was a sort of sponge cake-like half-dome, and the main flavor I got in here was…almond? Pretty tasty, though I wasn’t a fan of the rock-hard pomegranate seeds on the side.

Test Kitchen wouldn’t be Test Kitchen without the cocktails…

Yeoman Warder London Dry Gin, Dry Vermouth, Almond Orgeat, Lemon, Bitters (Fernie)

yeoman 500x335 Test Kitchen Reunion (Los Angeles, CA)

Night Vision Moonshine, Carrot Juice, Thyme, Velvet Falernum, Strega (Black)

night vision 500x335 Test Kitchen Reunion (Los Angeles, CA)

Show Us Your Tikis Spanish Rum, Combier, Pinenut Orgeat, Lime (Grutman)

tikis 500x335 Test Kitchen Reunion (Los Angeles, CA)

Boots With The Fur Apple Brandy, Lime, Celery, Cider (Fernie)

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We went upstairs to see what was going on, as well as to grab a couple drinks.

picca1 500x335 Test Kitchen Reunion (Los Angeles, CA)

The Paloma Chamomile-infused Tequila, Coriander-grilled Grapefruit, Aperol, Lime, Grapefruit Syrup (Kupchinsky)

paloma 500x335 Test Kitchen Reunion (Los Angeles, CA)

The Darkness Peach-infused Mezcal, Amontillado Sherry, Amaro Nonino (Kupchinsky)

darkness 500x335 Test Kitchen Reunion (Los Angeles, CA)

Cocktail-wise, I actually preferred what I tried upstairs at Picca. I particularly liked the Paloma, mostly because of the herb and fruit flavors in it. Downstairs, my favorite was probably the Night Vision cocktail – bright and vibrant both in color and taste.

I thought this was a pretty fun way to celebrate Test Kitchen’s run and get many of the “alumni” back together. I know I had a great time. I would say the food actually exceeded my expectations. Sometimes getting a bunch of chefs to do a one-night-only meal does not even equal the sum of its parts, but that wasn’t the case here. The food was thought-out and well-executed, yielding some pretty delicious dishes. For the most part, it seemed like the chefs stayed within a comfort zone (nothing too crazy on the plates), which I think really paid off in this meal. For what it’s worth, I heard the upstairs dinner was exceptional as well.

Picca (Los Angeles, CA) (3)

9575 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Dining date: 8/23/11

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Judging by the fact that the restaurant was packed on a Tuesday night, Picca is still one of the hottest restaurants in LA and definitely one of the biggest restaurant openings of the year. My first two trips to Picca were in parties of two, so my dent into tasting the extensive menu was pretty limited. However, on my latest visit we had a party of 6 – clearly, we would be able to try a significant amount of the menu. I enjoyed the food in each of my previous visits, so I was pretty excited to sample some more.

One of the off-menu recurring specials has been this 32-ounce ribeye. I’ve been wanting to try this…but it’s huge. Given that this was everyone else’s first time at Picca, we opted to try a number of other dishes instead. Because I’ve commented on many of these in my past two posts, I’ll just add some overall thoughts at the end.

tuna tartare. tuna, lemon soy dressing, wonton chips

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empanada trio. beef, chicken, eggplant, salad

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jalea mixta. crispy mixed seafood, tartare sauce

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chicharron de pollo. marinated crispy chicken, salsa criolla, rocoto sauce

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conchas a la parmesana. scallops, parmesan cheese, spinach, lemon sauce dressing

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oysters a la chalaca. pan fried oysters, cherry tomato sarsa

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causas: salmon, yellowtail, unagi

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ceviche crocante. halibut, leche de tigre, crispy calamari

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seabass tiradito. thin slice sea bass, soy sauce, lemon dressing, sweet potato puree

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anticuchos: spot prawn, sweet potato, black cod, scallop

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 toro ceviche.

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arroz con erizo. peruvian paella, mixed seafood , sea urchin sauce

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seco de pato. duck leg confit, black beer sauce, cilantro rice

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carapulcra. roasted black cod, peruvian sun dried potato stew, chimichurri

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sudado de lenguado. halibut stew, peruvian corn beer sauce, yuyo

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chanfainita. braised oxtail, mote and potato stew

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tres leches cake.

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chocolate cake.

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Similar to my other visits, I thought the food was strong. While I have always enjoyed the anticuchos (spot prawns!) and causas, I really enjoyed ‘oysters a la chalaca’ with the brightness and acidity in the tomatoes really heightening the sweet oyster. The toro ceviche was one of the specials that evening. Not exactly a ceviche (it appeared to have been seared with a blowtorch), but the fish was good…though I’m not sure it was worth the $26 with so many other items priced much lower. I liked the duck confit too; the duck was predictably tender and savory, and I thought the cilantro rice was an excellent accompaniment. As for the desserts, the chocolate was an off-menu special. The chocolate cake was good itself, but there was a passion fruit-like filling that I really liked with it too.

Previous Picca posts:
6/23/11 | 7/1/11