Douglas Keane (Cyrus)
The Strand House: Culinary Masters Series
117 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 4/29/13
For just over a year now, Manhattan Beach’s The Strand House has been doing a monthly dinner hosting notable chefs from across the country. The Culinary Masters Series presents a unique meal; local chefs prepare something different from what they’re serving at their restaurants and out-of-town chefs provide an opportunity to try their food without having to travel. Past chefs have included Walter Manzke, Michael Cimarusti and Josiah Citrin locally, as well as Jonathan Waxman and Jose Garces from the out-of-town category.
On this evening, Douglas Keane (of now-closed 2-Michelin star Cyrus in Healdsburg, CA) came to The Strand House. I’ve dined at Cyrus once before a long time ago (I think it was 2006) but don’t remember all that much from it. I was very excited to get a chance to sample more of Keane’s food. 5 courses were $100; wine pairings (Opus One, La Sirena, Seghesio, Byron) were an extra $50.
One cool aspect of this dinner was the fact that the winemakers (from each winery) showed up to discuss their wines and stories. Below, Michael Silacci of Opus One Vineyards.
The evening began with a crisp, complimentary rosé and a couple of small bites.
thai lobster with avocado and hearts of palm
chilled shiitake mushroom broth
The lobster had a nice springy texture – its natural sweetness was complemented by lightly-pickled hearts of palm and avocado. Unfortunately, the restaurant ran out of the mushroom broth so I can’t comment.
cauliflower, uni and caviar parfait
2011 La Sirena, Moscato Azul, Napa Valley
I liked this cauliflower parfait, particularly with the salty caviar and crispy bits of puffed rice. I thought the uni got a little lost in the mix though.
seared scallop morel and ramp fondue sauce Billi Bi
2010 Byron, “Whole Cluster” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
I found the scallop to seared well with a warm-but-still-raw center. I thought there could’ve been a slightly better crust, but it was tasty nonetheless. The morel and ramp purée brought an earthy sweetness that paired well with the scallop.
soba wrapped ocean trout buckwheat groats, ginger-shiso dashi
2010 Seghesio, Cortina Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley
I thought this was a pretty interesting dish – the trout was cooked perfectly and I thought the soba brought an intriguing chewy texture to the mix. I always like a good dashi broth, and this ginger-shiso dashi was no exception. Beautiful plating too.
A-5 Wagyu striploin of beef sweet corn, roasted daikon, ponzu
2009 Opus One, Red Wine, Napa Valley
This was easily my most anticipated dish of the night. Look at that marbling! Rich and buttery, the beef had an almost melt-in-your-mouth texture – just as expected. I liked the combination with the sweet corn, which added a different dynamic to the dish. A pairing with Opus One really helped to make this a memorable dish.
black sesame panna cotta shattered white miso custard, ginger plums and matcha rice flakes
Rock & Brews ‘start me up’ coffee with a kick
Our table had mixed thoughts on this dish; I liked it. The black sesame was subtle, but present, with matcha green tea flakes adding a wonderful texture (kind of like cereal). The drink pairing was coffee with a “kick” which was no misnomer – there was definitely a strong alcohol flavor coming through with the warm coffee drink.
I thought this was a good (not amazing, but good) meal and overall a very memorable dining experience. I thought there was a ton of value inherent in the price tag with a list of seafood-heavy ingredients that included caviar, uni, scallops and trout. I could totally see that wagyu dish alone being a $40+ supplement at other restaurants. The wine pairing, coupled with the winemakers in attendance, just added to the overall experience. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to come to one of these Culinary Masters Series dinners, but it won’t be my last – next up, ex-French Laundry Chef de Cuisine Tim Hollingsworth cooks his first meal in LA later this month.