The Dining Room at the Langham – 4/30/10

The Dining Room at the Langham
1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106

I had been to the Langham a little over a year ago, when Craig Strong was the chef. I had a good meal at the time, but I’ve been really looking forward to going back to try Michael Voltaggio’s cuisine. Voltaggio, as you might know, won last season’s Top Chef, beating out his brother. Voltaggio helped open the Bazaar, Jose Andres’ highly-acclaimed eatery in LA.  Blending modern, molecular gastronomy with classic French technique, Voltaggio creates some really creative, beautiful dishes – thus, why I’ve been wanting to go for so long.

The restaurant is located in a very, very large hotel in Pasadena – formerly a Ritz Carlton. The menu offers two options – a 4 course a la carte menu, or a 7 course tasting menu. Naturally, we went with the tasting menu. Click for a larger version.

First up was an amuse bouche of a gougere and a tomato jelly.

The gougere was good, however very similar to the others I’ve had at Cut or French Laundry.

First course:
White asparagus, tiny eggs, fried calamari

Perfectly cooked langoustine. Mmm…that’s all that was really necessary, but the poached eggs and yolk added a very nice richness to the dish.

Foie Gras Terrine
Strawberry-yuzu, arugula cake, Minus 8 vinegar

This was a very interesting dish. A foie gras terrine, mousse-like in texture, was covered by a layer of strawberry, served with fresh strawberries, arugula, and arugula cake. The interplay of the sweetness with the rich liver was very nice. The arugula cake was somewhat sweet as well, but rather mild in flavor.

Halibut Cheeks
Red curry, coconut rice, baby leeks

This dish was really delicious. The fish was very moist, tender and flavorful. It wasn’t quite as dense as the typical halibut filet, which I enjoyed. The puffed rice added some crunchiness.

Veal Sweetbreads Tempura
Kale, buttermilk, mustard, potato puree

Sweetbreads fried tempura style – not something I’ve had before. I enjoyed this dish as well, with the tender sweetbreads lightly fried. It was almost scallop-like in texture.

Four Story Hills Farm Suckling Pig
Banana polenta, morels, ramps, red onion

The polenta here was way too sweet. The pork belly was cooked quite well though, and nicely fatty. The skin was crispy – just the way it should be.

Japanese Kuroge Beef
Fried bearnaise, young turnips, bordelaise

The beef here was clearly a high-quality wagyu, with lots of melt-in-your-mouth fat marbling. I really enjoyed this piece of meat, but the accompanying red wine gelee did not do much for me.

Chocolate Caramel Ganache
Chocolate sorbet, salty hazelnut praline, cocoa tuille

This dish was a bit of a disappointment. First, the sorbet was kind of melted (see in picture) when it came out. I figure it might have been waiting just a little while for the other dessert. The caramel was rather jelly-like – this dish was not memorable.

Baba Au Rhum
Textures of coconut and pineapple, compressed papaya

This dish was a little bit better. The cake was dipped in liquor, topped with sorbet, and served with papaya and pineapple jelly.

Finally, the mignardises. Dark chocolate lollipops with pop rocks, mini macarons, and a passion fruit jellies. These were all pretty good.

In all, the meal at the Langham was good, but disappointing. Admittedly, I had very high expectations coming into this meal, and thus why the meal fell a little flat. I was optimistic that this would be one of the top 5 restaurant meals in LA – but I can’t say that it was. I really enjoyed the halibut cheek, but outside of that, none of the dishes were outstanding. However, none of the dishes were terrible either.

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