Cooks County (Los Angeles, CA)

Cooks County
8009 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 12/1/11

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Cook’s County opened last month, the newest farm-to-table, seasonal spot to hit the restaurant-rich neighborhood of Mid-City on Beverly. The stoves are helmed by Daniel Mattern while the pastry chef is Roxana Jullapat, both most recently of Ammo. The space was previously occupied by Laurent Quenioux’s Bistro LQ, but the decor is entirely different. The dining room is more homey and comfortable; white tablecloths won’t be found here.

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The reasonably-priced menu is divided into a few main sections: snacks ($3-8), appetizers ($8-13) and mains ($15-21).

We started with a few things from the snack section.

Spretzel mustard dipping sauce

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Sort of a hybrid between spaetzle and a pretzel, the spretzel was served warm. I liked the soft, yielding texture of the dough and it was well-salted. A mustard dipping sauce was a nice accompaniment.

French breakfast radishes blue cheese butter

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The radish had a nice, fresh crunch and clean flavor. I’m not the biggest fan of blue cheese, but I can say the butter tasted just as expected.

Chicken liver crostini pickled persimmons

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I thought the crostini was tasty. There was a smoky flavor in the smooth liver, and its minerality went well with the sweetness of the persimmons.

Three-day chicken wings cauliflower pickles

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I’m not sure why these took three days to make, but whatever it was made for some good wings. The meat was quite juicy with good flavor, though I wanted the exterior to be just a little bit crispier. Good wings, but not the best value on the menu at $8 a pair.

We ordered a number of items from the appetizer section as well. We didn’t realize it when ordering, but the appetizer options were pretty much all salads (though it was hard to tell just from the descriptions).

Persimmon pomegranate, mache, ricotta salata & toasted walnut croutons

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Roasted beets tangerines, endive & sunchokes

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Warm autumn chicories California chanterelles & sheep’s milk ricotta toast

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Crostone house cured pancetta, poached duck egg & parmesan

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As for the appetizers, I enjoyed the last two best. The chicory salad came with tender sauteed chanterelles as well as a creamy ricotta toast. Perhaps my favorite was the last one, the crostone. Hard to go wrong with pancetta and a poached duck egg; the crusty crostone provided a really nice vehicle to sop up these flavors. While a salad may be one of the best ways to showcase fine produce, I wanted to see a little more technique and variety out of these plates.

We also sampled 5 main entrees.

Tagliatelle slow braised oxtail, dandelion greens & parmesan

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Really nicely cooked with just the right chew, the pasta was pretty well executed. Closer to a pappardelle than a tagliatelle in my opinion, but I really didn’t care. An oxtail ragu is one of my favorite sauces; this was less saucy but still delivered with a rich and savory flavor that was complemented by some of the bright greens.

Pacific seafood soup grilled bass, Dungeness crab, mussels, clams, white shrimp & romesco

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The seafood soup was another strong dish. Because of the variety of seafood, I often find some of the seafood over/undercooked in a dish like this. However, it was all on-point in this plate. The soup was flavorful and had a lot of depth, and I thought the romesco was a good pairing too.

Grilled pork ribs roasted yams, applewood smoked bacon & spring onion rings

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The wood-grill flavor was definitely noticeable in these ribs, adding a smoky essence to the tender pieces of meat. The meat was tender but still had texture, covered in a sticky savory/sweet glaze. I liked the sweetness of the yams and texture of the fried onions to pair.

Braised beef cheek polenta & fresh flageolet bean salsa

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This was a pretty generous portion of the beef cheek. Very rich, I would’ve appreciated a little more acidity from the bean salsa. However, it was tender and quite delicious still, particularly when dipped into the jus. The polenta was light and creamy.

Wood grilled duck breast Brussels sprout leaves, kuri squash & Santa Barbara pistachios

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The unmistakable wood flavor came through on the duck as well. The skin was crisped up nicely and the duck was cooked well, although I felt it was slightly chewy. I liked both the squash and Brussels sprouts, while the pistachios provided a nice texture.

Long cooked greens

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Roasted root vegetables

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We opted for two side dishes. They were both very simple and straightforward, yet altogether unmemorable.

Stuffed, we managed to fit in only one dessert.

Meyer lemon angel pie citron & mountain huckleberries

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The light and airy meringue displayed the tart flavor of the meyer lemon, while the huckleberries provided a fruity, sweet counterpoint. A nice way to finish.

I thought the meal at Cook’s County was a good one, with the strong points being in the mains (that is, after all, where much of the money is spent). Given that the most expensive plate we ordered was $21, I thought the portions were pretty sizable and quite tasty. I’ve heard pretty strong things about the desserts, so I’ll have to come back to try some more as well. Overall, Cooks County showed a lot of promise and I’ll be interested to see how the menu changes with the seasons.

Note: This meal was sponsored by a third party.


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