The Hedonists return to Henry’s Cuisine for more Hong Kong goodness.
The Hedonists return to Henry’s Cuisine for more Hong Kong goodness.
Restaurant: Rush Street
Location: 9546 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. (310) 837-9546
Date: January 30, 2017
But not being the beer type, I came equipped with real wine :-).
From my cellar: 2005 Château Rayas Côtes du Rhône Château de Fonsalette Reserve. Parker 93. The 2005 Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone is a blockbuster. This blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, and 15% Syrah has a dark ruby/purple color and a beautifully structured style with notes of black truffle, licorice, black currant, and sweet cherry intermixed with some crushed rock and flowers. The wine is beautifully broad, savory, and exceptionally well-delineated and focused. This is a magnificent wine that should be at its best between 2010 and 2025.
lobster & shrimp egg rolls. napa cabbage, ginger, sweet soy & spicy mustard dipping sauces. These tasted like… well egg rolls. Decent middling egg rolls, but I couldn’t tell if it was lobster & shrimp or just cabbage. I’m sure it was the former, but under the fry, hard to discern.
Rush street dry-aged burger. Applewood bacon, cheddar, soestring onions, arugula, confire sauce. This was a fine pub burger. I’m not much of a burger aficionado. Unless they really stand out they are just lost in this middle ground. It was probably slightly more well done than I like (medium maybe as opposed to medium rare).
Same with fries.
grilled asparagus. Parmesan cheese, caper vinaigrette.
Overall, I was expecting something more interesting and artisanal. Rush Street was fine, but it’s just American pub fare which isn’t my thing. Execution was fine though. But there wasn’t much regionality. If I have to do pub, I’ll take something with a bit more local style. Fortunately too I was facing away from the TVs. Not a TV fan in restaurants. Prefer those in my living room.
Location: 525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071. (213) 228-8998
Date: January 22, 2017
Rating: Great high end Italian
Back to Drago Centro for “yet another” Barolo dinner, this time hosted by Liz Lee of Sage Society and featuring Luca Vietti and the impeccable wines of Vietti, one of the most prestigious Barolo producers!
Located on busy Flower in DTLA.
2011 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza La Crena. VM 92. The 2011 Barbera d’Asti La Crena is deeply marked by the heat of the vintage and the inherent richness that emerges from these old vines. Black plum, dark cherries, licorice, melted road tar and smoke race across the palate in a deep, super-ripe Barbera that needs considerable bottle age to shed its baby fat.
2013 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Vigna Vecchia Scarrone. 90 points. Ripe, intense black fruit. Long, complex, rich and tasty. This is one I wish I could have spent more time with. It is very young and there is a lot going on. Should age beautifully.
Quail and foie porchetta. Fig jam. This was the oddest dish of the night, cold quail (with the bone) stuffed with foie and pressed into a lump. Tasted pretty good, but the cold thing was a touch “unusual.”
2012 Vietti Barolo Castiglione. VM 93. The 2012 Barolo Castiglione is a gorgeous, radiant wine. Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, wild flowers and spices all meld together in a sensual, radiant wine endowed with striking presence and intensity. In 2012, the Castiglione is especially lifted, radiant and expressive, with striking purity and nuance. With time in the glass, the wine freshens up considerably, so aeration is a good idea for readers who want to open the 2012 early. This is a striking, seriously delicious Barolo from Vietti.
2012 Vietti Barolo Brunate. VM 94+. A dark, powerful wine, the 2012 Barolo Brunate is the most brooding and inward of these wines. With time and a good bit of air, the Brunate becomes a bit more precise and nuanced, yet it remains a bit monolithic next to the other wines in the range. A host of savory herbs, licorice, tobacco and dark fruits meld into the huge, explosive finish. There is no shortage of depth or character, but increasingly the Brunate is being outclassed by some of its siblings. The competition is pretty tough at Vietti these days.
2012 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito. VM 96. The 2012 Barolo Lazzarito impresses for its precision and class, two qualities that aren’t easy to find in wines from this Serralunga site. Iron, smoke and white pepper lift from the glass in a vertical, structured Barolo endowed with real pedigree. A rush of pomegranate, red cherry jam, wild flowers and blood orange meld into the huge, bright finish. In 2012, the Lazzarito reconciles power and finesse like few vintages in the past. For the last few years, the Lazzarito has been knocking on the door of the big boys in this lineup, the Rocche and Ravera. Today, the Lazzarito makes a strong statement that it has arrived.
Spaghetti chitarra, venison and mushroom ragu. Celistino always knocks this kind of “traditional” pasta out of the park. Just a gorgeous meaty winter ragu. It might be almost a “simple” Bolognese, but this was a deathly good dish. The texture of the delicate pasta was delicious and the rich meaty/mushroomy ragu. Bellissimo!
1999 Vietti Barolo Castiglione. VM 90. Medium ruby. Vietti’s Castiglione is a pretty, accessible Barolo. It offers a perfumed, floral nose and soft red fruit on a medium-bodied frame with fine but firm tannins and excellent length. My experience with this Barolo suggests it will reach full maturity around age 15. In 1999 Vietti did not bottle its Riserva Villero and that fruit ended up in the Castiglione, which no doubt contributes to this wine’s sense of overall balance.
2001 Vietti Barolo Rocche. VM 94. The mid to late 1990s were a period of considerable change in Piedmont, as the differences between traditional and more modern-leaning producers were especially marked during this time. Initially quite awkward, the 2001 Barolo Rocche takes a good few hours to come together. Now, fifteen years after the vintage, the track record for the 2001s is not as consistently brilliant as I had hoped. As a group, the wines are maturing faster and more unevenly than some of the surrounding top vintages, such as 1999 and 2004. Vietti’s 2001 Barolo Rocche is a good example of that. I very much like the wine’s demi-glace-like richness, but the bouquet only comes into focus after the wine has been opened for a number of hours. Even so, the 2001 gives the impression it will age faster than the 1999 tasted alongside it. These are pretty small quibbles, though, as all the wines in this flight are truly superb.
2001 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito. VM 92. The 2001 Barolo Lazzarito has aged quite well. Smoke, tar, incense and iron are some of the many notes that emerge from this powerful, intense wine. The Lazzarito shows considerable density and muscle, both of which will allow it to age gracefully. During this period Lazzarito was the wine that saw the greatest amount of French oak, and those notes, while present, are also nicely integrated.
1996 Vietti Barolo Brunate. VM 92+. Moderately saturated medium red. Complex, aromatic nose of redcurrant, camphor, mint, tobacco and brown spices. Lush, fat and chewy; denser and richer than the Castiglione Falletto bottling. Shows the powerful backbone and toothcoating tannins of the vintage. Late suggestion of mint.
1998 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito. VM 93. Saturated deep red. Highly perfumed nose combines raspberry, lead pencil, spices, dried flowers and truffle. Juicy, tight and high-pitched; sturdy, powerful and very firm. Finishes with serious but fine tannins and outstanding length. Very vigorous, youthfully unevolved Barolo with considerable aging potential.
1989 Vietti Barolo Rocche. VM 94. The 1989 Barolo Rocche is a bit reticent on this night. Although the 1989 is pretty, our bottles aren’t quite as explosive or intensely perfumed as the best examples can be. At its best, the Rocche is one of the finest 1989s. On this night though, the 1989 is merely outstanding. Much the same is true of the 1990 Barolo Rocche, which is very good, but also not quite as memorable as it has been in the recent past.
Overall another stunning evening from Sage Society. The wines were incredible and it was amazing to taste such a variety and lineup (including 3 grapes and many grand cru Baroli) from such a storied producer — and even more amazing (and storied) to here Luca Vietti’s entertaining tales about the wines.
Plus, the food and service were amazing. Celistino is a great host and his menu, created by him and Liz Lee paired spectacularly. A great evening.
Restaurant: Sun Nong Dan
Location: 11712 San Vicente Blvd.Brentwood, CA 90049 310.826.9222
Date: January 18, 2017
We left our epic traditional sushi dinner the other night at Ginza Onodera a bit hungry and so headed east to Korean Town for Second Dinner!
Sun Nong Dan is a 24 place serving up delicious Korean Stews.
The menu is essentially a couple different tunes along the same theme.
Plus there is this dipping sauce for the meat in the main event.
Koh Galbi Jjim. Braised beef short ribs, ox tail, and a spicy red sauce. The short rib was deliciously tender. The ox tail full of flavor but much bonier. The whole thing was served at tongue searing temperatures — but the red sauce was thick, both a tad sweet and spicy at the same time and wholly delicious.
This was some seriously good spicy beef stew!
Sun Nong Dan really hit the spot after our lighter “first dinner” and I definitely DID NOT leave hungry! Note that there is no alcohol here.
Restaurant: Ginza Onodera
Location: 609 La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. (323) 433-4817
Date: January 18, 2017
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi
Rating: Fabulous nigiri, expensive, not enough food
Los Angeles’ amazing homegrown sushi scene has recently been invaded by high end entrees from outside the city. I recently visited Sushi of Gari for some new style sushi, and Ginza Onodera is a Tokyo import using ultra traditional methods.
From my cellar: 1996 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé P2. 97 points. Floral aromatic start with red berry, red cherry, and ripe apple. Similar flavors with intense concentration, finishing with energizing minerality. In fact very similar to the 1996 “P1” in the next glass, but with just “more” of almost everything good.
Liz brought: 1995 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé P2. VM 95.5. The just-released 1995 Dom Pérignon Rosé P2 is stunning. Young, delicate and vibrant in the glass, the 1995 has it all; expressive aromatics, crystalline fruit and fabulous overall balance. Cranberry, mint, hard candy, cinnamon and dried rose petals are laced into the super-expressive finish. The 1995 P2 is sweet and layered, but with lovely veins of chalky minerality that give the wine its sense of energy. A delicate, floral finish rounds things out nicely.
Comes with a super fancy box.
Blanc and rose.
Goldeneye red snapper.
1990 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon P3. 99 points. Spell binding bottle of Champagne. Disgorged in 2014, there was so much brioche here, I thought I was in bakery. There was a vibrancy and energy to the wine that keep all that pure fruit right out in the front. The effervesce was exactly what it needed to be with textures that promoted its beautiful finesse character. Worthy the money? That is another issue. But price aside, this is in contention for one of the best bottles of Champagne I have ever tasted.
Fermented squid gut. Like a pasta in uni sauce. Very strong earthy fermented taste. A bit sweet. I thought it was delicious, but if you don’t like umami “aggressive” Japanese fermented seafood flavors and slimey texture it might freak you out.
Two kinds of marinated fish roe with slices of daikon. Almost like charcuterie — fishy charcuterie. A touch sweet and quite salty. I loved these. Great texture contrast to between the crunchy daikon and the chewy dried roe.
Chefs plating the next dish.
Our executive chef, Yohei Matsuki!
Overall Ginza Onodera has a very strong distinctive traditional style. The rich is basically oozing with red vinegar and has a strong assertive quality — but it does stay together well. The fish was very aged and marinated and each piece of nigiri crafted so as to balance with the particular qualities of the fish. I can’t fault the taste, texture, or presentation of nearly any of the dishes. They were pretty spectacular. And I love straight nigiri. Individually these are much more enjoyable than the odd combinations at Sushi of Gari for example.
And service was warm, very Japanese, and excellent.
My issues with Onodera are a high price point (about $300 for food) / quantity ratio. The price itself is high, but not outrageous at all given the labor involved (and certainly not offensive like Urwasawa). But there is also a fairly slow rate between pieces (at least 15 minutes), and not ENOUGH pieces for my big nigiri appetite. I could easily have eaten 2-3 times as many. They might as well have just served me pairs. I would say that for pure nigiri QUALITY in volume this is the best I’ve had outside of Japan. Yamakase has some fabulous nigiri too but you only get a few (plus a whole lot of other dishes). Now I may be biased, but Yamakase is a “better deal” in that you get about 4X the calories for similar money. But it’s really a totally different (if both Japanese) cuisine as Onodera is pretty much straight straight sushi and Yamakase a modern creative Kaiseki. Still, if you want to experience the exquisite art of perfectly crafted nigiri — Onodera is the top right now in LA.
But we were so hungry we went afterward (after midnight!) to Korea Town for some hearty stew!
The full wine lineup.
Location: 514-516 California State Rte 2, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 260-2255
Date: December 30, 2016 & January 9, 2017
Cuisine: Modern Vegan
Rating: Best Vegan I’ve had
Real Food Daily has been a Santa Monica Vegan staple for twenty-ish years, but it closed recently (I was not sad, it tasted weird and gave me gas). Instead, the brilliant Saint Martha chef has taken over, rebooted it into a market restaurant, and voila: Erven.
I went twice here in short order. The first time with my wife where we had 5-6 things and the second time with 7 Foodie Club members where we ordered the entire menu X 2!
The two floor interior looks way updated as well, and stylishly, if economically.
Krug Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 94. The NV Brut Rosé is brilliant and finely-sculpted in the glass, with floral aromatics, pulsating minerality and chiseled fruit. Less austere than it can be, the Rosé impresses for its combination of tension and textured, phenolic weight. There is so much to like. This release (ID 213027) is based on the 2006 vintage. The blend is 59% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier. Disgorged Spring 2013.
2006 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé La Grande Dame. JG 95. For both the vintage-dated and the Grande Dame Rosé bottlings, Veuve Clicquot uses their parcel of Clos Colin in the village of Bouzy for the still red wine that is used to add color to the final blend. The ’06 Grande Dame Rosé is comprised entirely of chardonnay and pinot noir, with thirty-three percent of the blend the former and sixty-seven percent of the blend the latter (with fourteen percent still pinot noir). The dosage is eight grams per liter and the wine is outstanding, offering up a pure and complex bouquet of tangerine, desiccated cherries, chalky minerality, orange peel and plenty of smokiness. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and complex, with a superb core, lovely focus and grip, elegant mousse and a very long, zesty and wide open finish. This is drinking beautifully right now, but will age very gracefully as well. (Drink between 2016-2035)
2002 Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne. VM 95+. Steely, penetrating aromas of minerals, crushed stone and vanillin oak. Wonderfully dense and broad, with a dusty, tactile texture and powerful underlying spine. Shows a superripe note of crystallized pit fruits, but the wine’s powerful acids give it great precision and penetration. A great young Corton-Charlemagne.
2004 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. VM 95+. Pale, bright color. A quintessence of Corton-Charlemagne dirt on the nose: stone fruits, lemon, iodine, ginger, minerals and mint, all complicated by a musky, leesy note that reminded me of a Coche-Dury wine. Then compellingly dense and penetrating in the mouth, with captivating, soil-driven flavors of raw pineapple, white peach, white flowers and crushed rock; a sulfidey complexity and a saline element add to the wine’s spectacular subtle complexity. Hardly a blockbuster but conveys an impression of great solidity. This remarkably precise wine coats the palate with dusty stone and leaves behind a suggestion of honey. My sample at Bouchard in early June was painfully young and closed though obviously outstanding, but this bottle, tasted in New York in August, was spectacular. (Incidentally, my following notes on the Chevalier-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte and Montrachet were from bottles tasted at Bouchard-also quite backward at the time-and I would expect my scores to prove to be conservative.)
Soft tofu with brussels sprouts, pickled garlic ponzu, lime cured onion and popcorn. I love this kind of soft tofu and this was like a combo of a traditional Japanese/Korean soft tofu and a Gjelina brussels sprouts dish.
From my cellar: 2006 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. JG 94. The 2006 Pucelles is by a good margin the most sophisticated and pure of these premier crus, and seems to have avoided the ripe excesses of the vintage better than most of the wines in the cellar this year. The nose is deep and fresh, as it offers up a beautiful mélange of lemon, pear, white peach, spring flowers, a touch of both bee pollen and incipient notes of beeswax and a nice framing of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, silky on the attack and utterly refined, with a lovely core of fruit and no signs of heat on the long, crisp and very long finish. This is a beautiful bottle in the making.
1996 Joseph Drouhin Romanée St. Vivant. JK 94. Airy, pure, elegant and extremely expressive as the aromas just float from the glass with rose petal and assorted floral notes. The mineral-infused, racy and finely delineated flavors are nuanced and textured though the backend has a somewhat dry and edgy quality to it that is highlighted by the racy finishing acidity. This is still entirely primary and should age well for a number of years.
2005 Louis Jadot Charmes-Chambertin. BH 94. An interesting nose of menthol, underbrush, warm earth and relatively high-toned red pinot fruit leads to fresh, rich, full and almost tender big-bodied flavors that are supple on the mid-palate before tightening up on the delicious, powerful and mouth coating finish. A quality effort that is more impressive than it usually is and worth a look.
Shredded cabbage pancake. with braised eggplant, chili hoisin. The waitress said it had the best hoisin ever — well no, not even close — but it did vaguely induce a feeling of Peking duck. Made me want some Peking duck!
Overall, Erven was pretty cool. It felt light, and fundamentally the introduction of modern textural play and Asian flavors with the vegan concept really brought the flavor level up. There is so much mouth fireworks going on that it distracts from the lack of protein or fat — wow!
Be warned though, there is a lot of fiber. I’m writing this at 4am because the bloating is keeping me up! Erven will not only tickle your palette, but keep you regular too!
Restaurant: Top Island Seafood
Location: The Marketplace, 740 Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801. (626) 300-9898
Date: December 29, 2016
Cuisine: Cantonese Chinese
Rating: Good — and great value — Cantonese
The San Gabriel Valley is just oozing with new Chinese Restaurants to try.
And no category is more crowded than the Cantonese Banquet House. Top Island fits right in the middle of this pack, offering up all the luxury ingredients in a big format at reasonable prices. Look at that sign on the left, lobster for $8.99!
2006 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Hyde Vineyard. VM 89. Dark red. Subdued, brooding aromas of dark cherry and chocolate. Fresher red and dark berry flavors are brightened by zesty minerals and given grip by dusty tannins. Finishes with very good persistence but limited definition. A serious, deeply concentrated style of pinot that needs some cellar time to loosen up.
2013 Boundary Breaks Vineyard Riesling No. 198 Reserve. VM 90. Quite reduced on the nose, with slightly shy aromas of Asian pear, white pepper, champagne mango and chamomile. The palate is quite honeyed and coats the cheeks and tongue in a soft layer of sweet fruit. A strong acidity keeps the palate in motion and prevents the wine from feeling fat. 58 grams per liter of residual sugar.
From my cellar: 2006 Henri Boillot Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. VM 93. Ripe peach, orange and hazelnut on the nose; a real essence of Charmes. Then opulent, sweet and rich but with very good inner-mouth tension to the ripe peach flavor. A seamless, highly concentrated wine with a wonderfully silky texture and a very long, fruit-driven finish. This fruit was harvested early, noted Boillot.
Seb brought: 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex. 92+. There is no doubting this is Sauvignon blanc – it has that straight out green grass, a bit of lime, definitely very crisp although not tart. When NZ makes SB, this is what they are going for I think. Very well done version of that style.
2012 Giesen Pinot Noir The Brothers. VM 90. Bright medium red. Perfumed aromas of strawberry, rose petal and spices. Juicy and intense, offering very good concentration to its brambly red berry and cherry flavors. Finishes with firm but smooth tannins and very good tactile persistence.
Seb brought: 2010 Marcassin Pinot Noir Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard. 95 points. In a great place. A showy wine highlighting ripe red fragrant fruits with a sweet edgy appeal. Quite pretty for a large scale pinot as slightly faded sour cherry fruits are well integrated with bright acidity and baking spice. Finishes really lasts. Quality stuff.
2002 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate. VM 93. Good deep ruby-red. Highly aromatic nose combines musky redcurrant and tobacco. Plush, broad and fine-grained; atypically sexy and showy for this wine, in much the same way that Montelena’s basic 2002 Napa cabernet is unusually pliant and rich. Finishes with big, dusty, but rather suave tannins. This offers early accessibility but has the material and structure for extended aging. The alcohol here is 14.3%, the highest since the 1978, which was 14.4%.
Adam brought: 2004 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 98. Another rating identical to that which was given in 2007 (when first tasted from bottle), the 2004 Harlan Estate is performing essentially the way I suggested in 2007 as it is one of the more precocious and accessible of the Harlan Estate wines to date. A great showing at this retrospective, this wine, which seems like a hypothetical blend of a Pauillac, St.-Estephe and Graves, represents around 1,500 cases from 40 acres of beautifully manicured hillside vineyards overlooking Oakville. Still dense purple to the rim, with notes of creme de cassis, charcoal, blackberry and sweet toast, the wine is full-bodied and voluptuously textured with the tannins largely resolved. But the density and richness suggest this wine can go a long, long way, even though the window for drinking it seems open and inviting already. A world-class, first-growth wine if there ever was one from Napa, this is simply an exquisite Harlan Estate that has atypically reached mid to late adolescence at the age of ten. That is great given the fact that these are 30- to 40-year wines – possibly even half-century wines. Drink it over the next 30 years.
Overall, a great time and really solid meal. Top Island isn’t in the league with Elite or such for high end Cantonese, but this whole feast was $35 a person with tax and tip! So considering with had Peking Duck, Lobster etc and it was all very tasty this was a steal. All the dishes were enjoyable and they have a huge menu. Plus, as Yarom says, “they treated us like Pharaohs.” I.e. we had great service as they were very warm and brought out all the dishes “slowly” (by Chinese standards). Too bad they don’t have this sort of quality on the Westside!
Location: 246 North Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, Ca 90210. 310-888-8782
Date: December 23, 2016
Cuisine: Steak House
Rating: My favorite LA Steak joint
For the second year in a row, my friend Sebastian picked Mastros for his birthday dinner — no complaints here — so we all hauled out the wines and headed across town.
Seb brought: 2002 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon. VM 90. Complex, precise aromas of apricot, mirabelle , honey and smoke. Silky, fat and full if quite dry; considerably richer than the young 2003, with sound framing acidity. Finishes very long, with a subtle whiplash of flavor. This has filled in quite nicely since I tasted it from barrel last spring.
A seafood tower. The quality of the seafood here is impeccable and the only thing we had to complain about was that there wasn’t enough! Really for five we would have expected the two or three story version Still there were amazing shrimp, claws, king crab (didn’t taste frozen), and oysters. The Dungeness chunks in the setter were the real winner.
From my cellar: 1982 Certan de May. Parker 98. Every time I have this wine in tastings outside my cellar, I have guessed it to be Petrus and I have rated it as one of the greatest 1982s. My scores have ranged from 96-100. From my cellar, the wine has always tasted super-concentrated, impressive, and frightfully backward, and not nearly as flattering and open. This tasting note is based on a wine from my cellar – a cold, damp storage facility. The wine reveals no signs of age in its color, which remains an opaque, thick- looking ruby/purple. The nose offers up reticent aromas of super-ripe black fruits (jammy cherries), combined with earthy, truffle, cedar, and chocolate notes. Full-bodied and super-concentrated, with high levels of extract, glycerin, and tannin, this remains an outrageously rich and compelling Pomerol that I find needs another 5 years until it begins to enter its plateau of maturity. It will easily last through the first three decades of the next century . It is a majestic Certan de May, as well as the finest young vintage of this wine I have tasted, but it is evolving at a glacial pace.
Dr. Dave brought: 2003 Thibault Liger-Belair Clos Vougeot. BH 91. This is very ripe though it stops short of being roasted with its plum, earth, wood, spice and pungent game suffused nose. There is excellent density and volume to the overly powerful, intense and broad-shouldered big-bodied flavors that are shaped by a very firm tannic spine that flirts with a bit of astringency on the otherwise lingering finish. This is definitely not a wine of refinement but it is certainly imposing. It’s not really a style that I particularly care for but then again that’s true of many ’03s as they’re just a bit too ripe for my taste. This particular example is slightly less ’03 in style than some but that said, it’s clear that it’s from a very ripe vintage.
Seb brought: 2002 Louis Jadot Chapelle-Chambertin. VM 93. Good bright ruby-red. High-toned roasted fruits, licorice, violet and sweet oak on the nose. Sweet, supple and creamy, with fruit currently dominated by an exotic coconutty oak quality. A second barrel showed even riper aromas and superb richness.
Seb brought: 2005 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage. VM 97. Inky ruby. Hugely aromatic bouquet of red and dark berries, cherry, Asian spices, fresh flowers, minerals and cured meat; smells like a great grand cru from Vosne-Romanee but with a wilder side. Flat-out gorgeous wine, with remarkably deep but fresh red berry and cherry flavors that stain the palate. Seems to actually expand on the finish, picking up exotic spicecake and rose pastille character and leaving a sweet trail of smoky red fruits behind. “If you insist on drinking this young, do it now,” says Chave, “because it will close up in about two or three years and not be open again for a long time.” You’ve been warned.
Dr Dave brought: 1998 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Centenaire. Parker 97-100. Happily, the last two bottles of 1998 Cuvee Centenaire from my cellar were representative of the score that has been bestowed above. Dense plum/garnet to the rim, with an extraordinary nose of creme de cassis, blackberry, licorice, camphor, new saddle leather, and scorched earth, the wine is full-bodied, opulent, rich, very pure, and from sound bottles, a great Cuvee Centenaire that comes close to rivaling the perfect 1990. This wine should drink well for another decade or more.
Arnie brought: 2003 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon RBS To Kalon Vineyard. Parker 97. The closest to full maturity and farthest along in its evolution appears to be the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon RBS Beckstoffer To- Kalon Vineyard. Notes of pen ink, creosote, tar, black currants and Christmas fruitcake jump from the glass of this dense ruby/purple-colored effort, which is showing less color saturation than its three siblings. Full-bodied and ripe with soft tannins, good freshness and liveliness, there is no reason to defer your gratification. It is an intense, mouthfilling, terrific, young Cabernet Sauvignon that should continue to drink well for 10-15 years.
The all important Butter Cake. This is “Mastro’s signature warm butter cake ala mode.” Basically a pound cake with an extra four sticks of butter or something. It’s really sweet and really good. Goes well with the magic whipped cream (see below).
Overall, another perfect steakhouse birthday!
Location: 107 E Valley blvd, San Gabriel, Ca, 91776. (626) 307-8868
Date: December 18, 2016
My Hedonist club has hit up Phong Dinh several times before. This authentic Vietnamese/Chinese continues to serve up interesting stuff — plus they’re happy to take some of Yarom’s “do it yourself” meats, like both boar, deer, and pheasant he shot recently.
From my cellar: 2011 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault. VM 90. The 2011 Meursault is quite beautiful, even if it shows some tightness from its recent bottling. White peach, pear and spice notes all wrap around an energetic frame. I very much like the way the 2011 opens up in the glass. The Comtes Lafon Meursault is now a blend of various parcels, mostly Clos de la Baronne, En la Barre, Luraules and Crotos.
You put all this together with the fish as you like and do your best to roll into a pancake. It’s scrumptious, absolutely delicious, but messy.
2003 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Spätlese. 92 points. Aromas and flavors of blueberry, blackberry and honey combine here with woodsmoke, black tea, nut oil and subtly stony nuances. The wine is rich and full, with its slight sense of heat enhancing the effect of distilled fruit concentration and smoky pungency. The finishing effect is long and noticeably sweet.
2010 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde. VM 93. Deep ruby. Powerful aromas of dried cherry, blackberry and licorice, with a suave floral pastille nuance in the background. Densely packed bitter cherry and dark berry preserve flavors show a refreshingly bitter edge and pick up spicecake and dark chocolate qualities with air. Dusty tannins come in late and give shape to the finish, which clings with superb tenacity and a resonating floral quality. Shows the power and structure of this outstanding vintage to full effect but comes off as polished and, I daresay, approachable.
2005 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva. VM 92. Deep ruby. Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of red fruit preserves, vanilla, mocha and fresh flowers, with a hint of pipe tobacco coming up with air. Sappy and broad on entry, then more taut in the middle, with sweet cherry-vanilla and spicecake flavors given lift by juicy acidity. Closes smooth, spicy and long, with lingering smokiness and fine-grained tannins adding grip. A touch more lively than the excellent 2004 version of this wine and of equal quality, which makes it an outstanding value in old-school Rioja.
This raw pork was cooked by us table-side like at Totoraku.
From my cellar: 2002 Louis Jadot Corton-Pougets Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot. VM 92. Medium-deep red. Superripe nose dominated by smoky, earthy soil tones. Silky on entry, then rich, succulent and deep, with very sweet red fruit and mineral flavors building impressively on the back half. Finishes ripely tannic and long. Like a few other Jadot ’02s, this shows terrific early sweetness but also has the structure to age. A very strong vintage for this cuvee
With crispy rice cakes.
We headed over to Salju for dessert. This one was with mochi and mango.
Restaurant: Seasalt Fish Grill
Location: 9901 Washington Blvd #101, Culver City, CA 90232. (424) 361-5222
Date: December 12, 2016
Rating: Very flat
I was excited (apparently prematurely) by the opening of this new Poke place just a block from Ramen Roll. By the time I got there it had been open a whole week or two.
Well, actually it was a tempered mix of feelings, on one hand having another quick tasty spot nearby would be convenient, on the other, poke is vaguely competitive with our concept — although after trying, I’m not at all worried.
Seasalt is very much a QSR (Quick Service Restaurant). You order at the counter and sit. The menu is a mix of poke and (mostly fried) fish. It’s actually a slightly odd mix.
Ahi Poke Salad. Fresh Ahi Poke, mixed greens, romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, edamame, sesame, avocado, carrots, green onion and a lemon ginger dressing.
When I read something like sweet shrimp and surimi crabmeat I think real seafood. Do you see any shrimp? I just see imitation crab. In any case, this bowl had the typical muddle of flavors that is typical of why I don’t like poke. The rice was limp and flavorless, and then there is just a bunch of mush on top of it that tastes like dressing and mediocre fish. Just so sloppy both visually and in terms of flavor balance.
Because of its proximity, I’ll come back and try something else — maybe. I’m not really keen too, but I feel I should give it a second chance with a different type of item. Although farm raised Tilapia is not going to lure me in!
Location: 815 Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Date: June 20, 2016
Rating: Somewhere between Izakaya and Kaiseki
Shibumi is a new Japanese place in DTLA which is both highly “Japanese” and unusual in a number of ways. One, it’s Kappo style which is a kind of “knife and fire” traditional cooking not often found in America. Two, despite this very Japanese sensibility, its chef is an American guy: David Schlosser.
The front looks a bit like Japan — all the more unusual because it’s sitting there on a nondescript DTLA block!
Adam brought: 2008 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. BH 94. A more elegant as well as more refined but also much more reserved nose of white flower and salt water aromas is very much in keeping with the equally refined, pure and silky middle weight flavors that possess excellent detail and precision on the textured and seductive finish that displays grand cru level persistence. This is not quite as rich as the Butteaux but it’s finer as the chiseled flavors are flat out gorgeous. In a word, stunning.
Erick brought: 1993 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. VM 94. Among the wines of the 1990s, I especially liked the 1993 Dom Ruinart, which was beautiful, especially considering this was an original disgorgement. Layers of honeyed fruit, licorice and mint were woven together in a captivating fabric. We also caught this wine at near peak, as it was firing on all cylinders. What a beautiful wine.
Lobster “miso” and sake. The orange stuff is “lobster brain” which really isn’t brain but the liver (I think) of the lobster. It has a very slimey texture not unlike egg yolk. Strong brine and umami flavors. And it does pair nicely with sake. Fairly “advanced”.
Iwagaki oyster, fresh yuzu, shiso flower & mountain caviar. A HUGE oyster cut up. I’m not normally a fan of the giant oysters (although I love smaller ones on the half shell). This did have that big oyster chunky texture, but the pairing of bright and briny flavors was quite lovely.
From my cellar: 2002 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. VM 92-95. Pungent, thoroughly ripe aromas of soft citrus fruits and spices. Fat, sweet and large-scaled; this has real dimension. Highly complex and very rich flavors of orange, minerals, hazelnut and spices. Wonderfully aromatic and showy in the mouth, but also built to age. Finishes very fat and very long. This may be bottled without a fining. Thibodaux says the addition of the younger vines has brought freshness and cut, leavening the “corpulence and massiveness” of the juice from the older vines.
On the left an awesome scallop sashimi layered with something and covered in yuzu. On the right trigger fish liver and meat. Both of these dishes were awesome — but again the textural and in the case of the liver, slightly fermented, components require a high level appreciation of Japanese cuisine.
From my cellar: 1994 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia. 95 points. Absolutely exquisite. Soaring, kalediscopic nose, with swirling aromas of salted caramels, vanilla, honey, jasmin, ginger, almonds, and orange peels. Just mind boggling. Sensuous, smooth, and nutty on the palate, with a level of refinement that the other (also excellent) LdH blancos just can’t reach and a salty finish that leaves your palate tingling for what seems like minutes. A masterpiece that will last for ages.
“ancient” style sushi. Marinated mackerel on vinegar rice with pickled ginger. Sushi has its origins in China as fish packed in a barrel with vinegared rice. When it came to Japan it was adapted into something more like this which is halfway between that old fermented form and our newer (post refrigeration) form. This was quite enjoyable, although it was tricky to keep the rice physically in place.
From my cellar: 1999 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. 95 points. Reticent but very ripe nose hints at white flowers, white plum, orange oil and charred oak. Very rich, dense and chewy, but also high-pitched, perfumed and penetrating. A superrich yet classic wine that comes across as a bit less dry than the Combettes today. A great premier cru.
Silky egg tofu, uni, fresh nori & wasabi. I loved this attractive dish. I adore silken tofu and adding the uni and the traditional wasabi was great. The nori is a significant flavor and texture element in this dish too.
Will brought: 1993 Daniel Bocquenet Echezeaux. BH 88. Very elegant, spicy rich fruit framed robust, intense but edgy flavors that are a bit lean on the moderately long finish. It’s not clear whether this will regain its balance or not with a few years of bottle age but there is no doubting the lovely complexity and solid flavor authority.
Adam brought: 2010 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Eiswein. 98+ points. As I noted in the introduction, this is one of two Eisweins produced from the Brücke in 2010. This particular Eiswein was harvested on Christmas Day, with the one that was still fermenting in the cellars having been picked a week earlier on December 18th. This is a great, great bottle in the making, as it soars from the glass in a brilliantly pure mélange of apple pie, pineapple, candied oranges, lovely minerality, honey, a touch of new leather and a topnote of citrus zest. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and racy, with laser-like focus, beautifully ripe, integrated acids and stunning grip on the endless finish. A great, great wine.
The chef spent quite a while with us at the table.
Overall, Shibumi brings a unique sensibility at many levels. It’s stylistically east/west. The food is very Japanese but the chef is American. And the very style of food is not culled from Japan’s more Western-approachable sub-cuisines. This is some fairly hard core stuff with weird fish bits, fermentation, and “unfamiliar” textures. In fact, it pretty much showcases a texture prized in Asia but which most Americans would describe as “slimey.”
But execution is both unique and spot on. Ingredients are impeccable and the technique sound — and it’s almost instant popularity shows that great cooking can transcend even American parochial style. Too bad the same can’t be said of our recent politics.
And one of the potent drinks.
Location: 3115 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 829-4313
Date: December 9, 2016
Rating: Best meal here in years!
The final Sauvages lunch of the year is always one of the best. The wine theme is not as singular, but instead concentrates on “greats” from France.
And the locale is Valentino, LA’s venerable high end Italian — and host to countless wine events (that I’ve been to).
2002 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. VM 95. The 2002 Brut Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is wonderfully open, expressive and resonant. The richness of the vintage comes through nicely, yet the more overt elements are very nicely balanced by a good deal of freshness. Baked apple, pastry, candied lemon, dried flowers and warm, toasty notes shape the generous, resonant finish. With time in the glass, the 2002 takes a on a striking, vinous character. Readers might want to consider opening the 2002 a few hours in advance, as it really blossoms with air.
The initial chaos tamed by Valentino’s master sommelier.
2004 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. BH 93. The color was very pale straw with green highlights yet there was the barest trace of oxidation on the nose. To be fair, it was extremely subtle, indeed two tasters didn’t notice it at first. Yet with air, it became worse and in the end, it was clear that there was a problem. I include the original tasting note here for ease of reference: A reserved yet elegant nose of white flower, green apple, pear and natural spice and wet stone notes that introduce detailed, fresh and wonderfully intense flavors that are exceptionally clean and bright, culminating in a bone dry finish replete with superb minerality. This is not as dense as the ’05 but the purity here is really something to see and as noted last year, it’s sufficiently structured that it will need the better part of a decade to reach its apogee. Note that there was a trace of reduction on the nose and this would benefit from 30 minutes in a decanter should you elect to try one.
2006 Marc Colin et Fils Bâtard-Montrachet. BH 93. A touch of pain grillé frames very ripe but not exotic fruit that includes pear, peach, orange and apricot as well as acacia blossom and honeysuckle that complements well the rich, fresh and vibrant flavors that also display a touch of gas on the textured, opulent and palate drenching finish. This is a big wine that is very Bâtard-like in character as there isn’t much elegance but it’s long on power and size. Buyers would also do well to decant this for 20 to 30 minutes first.
2010 Domaine Michel Mallard & Fils Corton-Charlemagne. 94 points. Initially it was lean and fresh on the palate, I kept thinking Chablis as it had this brightness to it that was really nice, but didn’t have the heft of corton charlie. After a few hours in, I went back to the decanter and it was a totally different wine. It picked up this round rich fruit of apple and citrus on the palate as it picked up more and more concentration and power. Really packed a wallop at the end of the night. Very much made in the style of CC that I like.
Polipo Grigliato Con Crema di Paptate E Sedano. Grilled octopus on a puree of potato and celery.
Calamari Farciti Ai Gamberetti In Brodetto Di Pomodoro E Oregano. Seafood stuffed calamari in light tomato-oregano broth.
More formal than most LA Italian, these are actually very classical in style (for high end Italian).
1990 Domaine Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin Très Vieilles Vignes. BH 95. This has long been one of my favorite 90s with its immense fruit that soars from the glass. Red and black fruits blend seamlessly with the beginnings of secondary aromatics and combine with mouth coating extract of pinot yet despite the incredible richness, the balance is impeccable. This doesn’t quite yet offer the complexity of the Griotte but the superb depth of extract is simply glorious. In sum, this is a profound effort and one of the finest wines of the vintage and while it can certainly be enjoyed now, there is no doubt that this is still improving even though it’s approaching its peak. Multiple and consistent notes.
1990 Domaine Rossignol Trapet Chapelle-Chambertin. 96 points. Every once in a while a wine sufficiently stirs the senses to impart a lasting impression…this is such a wine. Tasted blind. Considerable bricking and somewhat opaque; knew from the outset it was at least fifteen years old. The luxurious bouquet sings with the finest elements of great Burgundy! Sous-bois, earth, rose petals, charred cork, and hints of smoke, etc. The wine features brilliantly focused acidity, all the elements on the bouquet, and a mind-bending textural mouthfeel! Lasting finish marked by tremendous acidity and unbridled deliciousness!
Duck Crespelle with Prosciutto. A delicious big ravioli notched up even further by the ham.
1990 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 96. Two great back to back vintages are the 1990 and 1989. The more developed 1990 boasts an incredible perfume of hickory wood, coffee, smoked meat, Asian spices, black cherries, and blackberries. Lush, opulent, and full-bodied, it is a fully mature, profound Beaucastel that will last another 15-20 years.
From my cellar: 1990 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee. Parker 96. A big step up, and showing that the warmer, richer years dish out the most pleasure at maturity, the 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reserve is drop-dead gorgeous, and close to my favorite of the night. Possessing a thrillingly complex, mature feel, with full-bodied richness and a layered, textured and seamless mouthfeel, this puppy was singing, with loads of lavender, peppery herbs, game and dried flower-like aromas and flavors. I don’t see it getting any better, and would drink it while it still has this voluptuous, hedonistic slant that makes it such a joy to drink.
2000 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 95. The Burgundian-styled 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape is drinking at point today. Possessing beautiful notes of forest floor, truffles, spice, garrigue and sweet cherry and kirsch like fruit, this beauty has notable freshness and purity, medium to full-bodied richness, fine tannin and a layered, integrated texture that keeps you coming back to the glass. There’s no need to delay gratification here and I’d enjoy bottles over the coming 4-5 years.
2003 Clos Saint-Jean Chateauneuf du Pape la Combe des Fous. Parker 97. A big, ripe and voluptuous effort, the 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous is thrilling stuff that’s drinking beautifully. Incense, exotic pepper, cedar and spice are all supported by a ripe core of sweet kirsch and blackberry fruit. It’s full-bodied, rich, textured and voluptuous on the palate. Showing no signs of over-ripeness or astringency, with polished tannin and excellent mid-palate depth, it pumps out loads of fruit on the finish, and should be consumed over the coming handful of years.
2000 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. Parker 94. Deep garnet colour with a faint touch of brick in the rim. Classic Beaucastel earthy/meaty/gamey nose with an undercurrent of stewed strawberries, Chinese dried plums and soy. Quite elegant on the palate with a medium to full body and a reasonably taut structure of medium to high acidity and a medium level of velvety tannins. Layer upon layer of spices and savoury flavours. Long finish. Drink now to 2024.
Classic Crispy Lasagna Bolognese. Isn’t the prettiest, but it sure tasted great!
1982 Beychevelle. Parker 94. I have noticed serious bottle variation with this wine, but recently it has been consistently scoring in the 94-96 point range. Beautifully sweet, slightly herbaceous black currant, licorice, and earthy notes emerge from this nearly opaque, dark ruby/purple-tinged 1982. Compared to the more elegant, feminine-styled wine often produced here, it is a beast. Dense, thick, rich, concentrated, and impressive, it can be drunk now and over the next two decades.
1989 Montrose. Parker 98+. This was not in the tasting at the chateau, but I opened two bottles on my return home, because this is another near-perfect wine from Montrose. It is an unusual two-grade blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. The wine emerged from another very hot, sunny, dry growing season, with early, generous flowering. Harvest in Montrose took place between September 11 and 28. The wine has never had any issues with brett, making it a somewhat safer selection than the more irregular 1990. Like a tortoise, the 1989 has finally begun to rival and possibly eclipse its long-time younger sibling, the 1990. The wine is absolutely spectacular and in auction sells for a much lower premium than the 1990. That should change. This is a magnificent Montrose, showing notes of loamy soil undertones, intermixed with forest floor, blueberry and blackberry liqueur and spring flowers. It has a full-bodied, intense, concentrated mouthfeel that is every bit as majestic as the 1990, but possibly slightly fresher and more delineated. This great wine should drink well for another 40-50 years.
1989 Pichon-Longueville Baron. Parker 96. Both the 1989 and 1990 vintages exhibit opaque, dense purple colors that suggest massive wines of considerable extraction and richness. The dense, full-bodied 1989 is brilliantly made with huge, smoky, chocolatey, cassis aromas intermingled with scents of toasty oak. Well-layered, with a sweet inner-core of fruit, this awesomely endowed, backward, tannic, prodigious 1989 needs another 5-6 years of cellaring; it should last for three decades or more. It is unquestionably a great Pichon-Longueville-Baron.
2000 Lynch Bages. Parker 97. Beginning to open magnificently, the still dense purple-colored 2000 reveals a blossoming bouquet of blackberries, cassis, graphite and pen ink. Full-bodied with velvety tannins that have resolved themselves beautifully over the last eleven years, this wine is still an adolescent, but it exhibits admirable purity, texture, mouthfeel and power combined with elegance. One of the all-time great examples of Lynch Bages, the 2000 is just beginning to drink well yet promises to last for another 20-25+ years.
2000 Figeac. Parker 91-93. Tasted at the Château Figeac vertical at the property. It is some years since I last tasted the 2000 Figeac. There is a valid argument that it is being eclipsed by the 2001, but it is still a fine Saint Emilion. The nose is clean and fresh with strong graphite aromas, very Left Bank in style with black truffle and smoky notes developing. The palate is masculine and rather austere at first, though I notice that it gains fleshiness in the glass. It is nicely weighted, but does not quite deliver the sensuality or joie-de-vivre of the 2001 (which is actually like a lot of millennial Bordeaux). Let’s see how it matures over the next few years, but my money would be on the 2001.
Pan Roasted Napa Quail on lentils with creamy pan dripping sauce and polenta crouton. More ham — and a very tasty little bird indeed.
1989 Rieussec. Parker 92. After a period of prolonged disjointedness, this wine has pulled itself together. The color is deep straw, and the wine displays an intense perfume of creme brulee custard, baked apple pie, and sweet, ripe pineapples and pears. Full-bodied, rich, alcoholic, and fat, with low acidity and considerable sweetness, this is a luxuriously rich, unctuously-textured, heavyweight Sauternes that should become more civilized with age.
Pears poached in red wine. Another Valentino classic. My gelato is better though :-).
Overall this was an awesome lunch — as almost all Sauvages lunches are. The food was quiet excellent for Valentino with both a variety and solid execution (sometimes the dishes can be a little flat), plus we had plenty of it and it paired very well. The wines were amazing with almost all of the bottles in great shape and tons of variety of goodness. As always, wine service at Valentino is about the best in the city with tons of stems, organization, and all that. Really very few places that can handle it as well.
Restaurant: Jogasaki Sushi Burrito
Location: Food truck
Date: December 14, 2016
Cuisine: Sushi Burrito
Rating: Kind of a mess
I was in a rush to go to work after a Doctor’s appointment and passed by the Activision parking lot and its array of food trucks.
The menu of fairly typical “roll” contents. Now, I’m not a fan of these kind of rolls even when they come from a real sushi bar. I pretty much knock several points off any sushi place that even serves the like of “Spider Roll.”
Lobster Burrito. The “burrito” is a soy paper wrapped log.
Inside is a messy mix of rice, sweet sauce, avocado, imitation crab, and crawfish. There is no real lobster, only the crawfish, which while not bad tasting by itself, is pretty cheap stuff. The whole thing just tastes like rice and sweet sauce and maybe a bit of avocado. It turned into a total mess too as soy paper is very soft and chunks of it were falling all over the place into an ugly pile.
I’m not a fan. It just tastes like an extra sloppy version of one of those generic rolls – namely rice & sweet sauce. It was fast (except for the 10 minutes waiting for them to open) and moderately cheap. That’s about it. As a fusion, it’s certainly not an improvement in any way except that it’s easier for them to make in the truck than any kind of normal sushi. Just slop in the ingredients and roll.
Restaurant: Yamadaya Ramen
Location: 11172 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. (310) 815-8776
Date: December 15 & 21, 2016
Rating: Solid traditional ramen
They do have a big hood. I have hood envy.
Gyoza. I like gyoza. These were fine, but not great. They could have used more porky punch.
Tonkotsu Ramen. I sorta wanted to try the shio style, but the server recommended the 20 hours Tonkotsu broth. Most LA Ramen shops focus on tonkotsu which is a Kyushu style. Kyushu is the third largest Japanese Island, in the south, and is host to Fukuoka a fun city (I’ve been 3 times) that is renowned for its food.
In any case, back to Yamadaya’s Tonkotsu, which was solid but not exceptional. Very traditional with the egg, chashu, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, green onions and the thin white noodles. I like thicker noodles with more texture myself. Certainly this was a “real” ramen, and as such very enjoyable, it just wasn’t particularly novel or anything.
Yamadaya has quite a number of other ramens, including shio, so I will have to come try them, and they have curry and a number of other traditional items. So I’ll be back to fill out the report.
Restaurant: Marino Ristorante
Location: 6001 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 466-8812
Date: December 14, 2016
Rating: Awesome. One of the best Italian meals I’ve had in LA
Restaurants in Los Angeles are constantly changing, opening, closing etc. One of the recent changes I miss the most was the shuttering of Il Grano — certainly West LA’s best Italian, particularly in the fancy/modern department. I really miss it – as it was one of my favorites and has 9 write ups on the blog (I think the most of any restaurant).
But the amazing chef/owner Sal Marino has relocated (back) to his original family haunt, venerable Marino Ristorante on Melrose and continues to cook up his unique blend of amazing modern Italian. And if anything, he’s gotten even better.
The menu for tonight’s special Foodie Club year end dinner.
1996 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame. VM 95+. Deep, highly complex aromas of citrus skin, nutmeg, porcini mushroom, toasted almond and clove. Rich, dry and impressively deep; superconcentrated and oily. A chewy, spicy Champagne that seemed to grow fresher as it opened in the glass. Really explosive on the aftertaste, finishing with a clinging quality and powerful spicy, nutty flavors. A major mouthful of Champagne, at its best at the dinner table. Displays the combination of high ripeness and high acidity of this vintage at its best. This thick, rich, very powerful wine is still a bit youthfully disorganized and will be even better for a few years of additional aging. One of the standouts of my recent tastings.
Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée. VM 94. The NV Grande Cuvée is absolutely stellar. This is one of the very best Grande Cuvées I can remember tasting. The flavors are bright, focused and beautifully delineated throughout, all of which make me think the wine will age well for many, many years. Lemon peel, white flowers, crisp pears, smoke and crushed rocks race across the palate in a vibrant, tense Champagne that epitomizes finesse. This release is based on the 2005 vintage and was disgorged in winter 2012/2013.
2002 Pol Roger Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 95. Pale gold. Intense, mineral-dominated aromas of candied citrus fruits, pear, anise, smoky lees and chamomile, plus a sexy floral nuance and a hint of sweet butter. Palate-staining orchard and citrus fruit flavors show outstanding depth and energy, picking up chalky mineral and spice notes with air. Strikingly concentrated and precise wine with strong finishing punch and noteworthy persistence. This concentrated, deftly balanced Champagne is built for a long, graceful evolution.
From my cellar: 2010 Borgo del Tiglio (Nicola Manferrari) Collio Friulano Ronco della Chiesa. VM 94. Borgo del Tiglio’s 2010 Ronco della Chiesa shows what this hillside site in Cormons can do in cooler vintages. Still bright, focused and intensely saline, the 2010 bursts from the glass with grapefruit, lime, mint and crushed rocks. The 2010 will probably be appreciated most by readers who like tense, vibrant whites. Next to some of the other vintages, the 2010 lacks a little mid-palate pliancy, but it is quite beautiful just the same. I especially like the way the 2010 opens up nicely in the glass over time.
Persimmon & Burrata. Best Persimmon I’ve ever had. Sweet and soft and non of that weird dusty finish. Amazing with the cheese too.
From my cellar: 2001 i Clivi Brazan. 93 points. Geraniums and menthol on the nose. On the palate, pear, apricot, white flowers, and notes of pineapple and lemon on the medium finish, with good acidity. Unlike a previous bottle, this didn’t show any significant oxidation, and it held up well over two days without fading. Well-stored bottles with good corks should be good for at least a few more years.
1983 Domaine Pothier-Rieusset Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens. 92 points. For a Burgundy that should be over the hill it’s drinking nicely. Crystal clear and very light ruby color. Poured straight from the bottle but with a little glass time it really started to show its stuff. Quite fruity and approachable. Has notes of cranberry cocktail with a twist of lemon.
1996 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart. JK 94. Fairly closed and tight nose of spicy black fruit framed in subtle new wood followed by medium weight, intense, relatively powerful flavors yet the tannins are elegant and quite fine. The overall impression is one of discreet breed and this delivers impressive if not incredible persistence. For the patient.
2003 Domaine Anne Gros Clos Vougeot Le Grand Maupertui. VM 91+. Full red-ruby. Brooding, superripe aromas of medicinal black cherry and cassis. Huge, chewy and backward; boasts impressive flesh and phenolic material but quite closed today, and not particularly sweet. This very rich but youthfully sullen wine finishes with substantial tannic spine. “Jammy but not cooked,” notes Gros.
Black Bass, stinging nettle, dehydrated olives. Great piece of light fluffy bass. As good as bass gets.
1982 Leoville-Las Cases. Parker 95-100. I have had perfect bottles of this cuvee, but, perplexingly, the bottles from my cellar tend to be broodingly backward and require plenty of coaxing. This huge wine is, in many ways, just as massive as Leoville Barton, but it possesses a greater degree of elegance as well as unreal concentration. Classic lead pencil, cassis, kirsch, cedar, and spice characteristics are abundant in both the nose and full-bodied flavors. The tannins are still there, and, at least from my cellar, this 1982 does not appear to have changed much in the last 10-12 years. One wonders how much patience admirers of this brilliant St.-Julien will continue to exhibit. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050.
Chef Sal Marino shows off his pasta dough. Eggy!
1998 Azienda Agricola Montevertine Le Pergole Torte Toscana IGT. JG 91. The 1998 Pergole Torte is a bit deeper-pitched and more black fruity than the more vibrant and red fruity 1999, but despite its slightly “cooler” profile, this too will be a fine bottle of wine at its apogee. The nose is deep and complex, as it offers up scents of black cherries, plums, a touch of bitter chocolate, herb tones, road tar, damp earth and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and still quite tannic, with fine focus, a solid core of fruit and very good length and grip on the firm, chewy and well-balanced finish. The 1998 does not possess the same generosity of youthful fruit as the 1999 or even the 2001 for that matter, and hence would be a bit more difficult to drink before it reaches full maturity, but with its sound acids and lovely complexity, it will be a delightful drink once it reaches its peak.
1985 Antinori Solaia Toscana IGT. VM 94. The 1985 Solaia kicks off a flight of Early Classics. I have had the 1985 twice recently and it has always been impressive. It is also very much a wine of its era, which is to say if anything, it is too polished. This was an era in which wines were squeaky-clean. Well-stored bottles still have plenty of fruit although further upside appears to be limited.
1990 Antinori Solaia Toscana . VM 94. Tasted next to so many other great wines, the 1990 Solaia actually suffers a bit. I am sure it would be magnificent on its own, but here it comes comes across as a bit one-dimensional, with less opulence than vintages like 1994 and 1997, but less structure than the 1988 tasted immediately before. Overall, the 1990 is a hugely attractive wine that stops just a touch short of being truly profound.
2002 Tua Rita Redigaffi Toscana IGT. Parker 94. The 2002 Redigaffi is sweet and balsamic in its expression of jammy plum fruit, elegant and ample on the flow and with an expanding volume, firmness, and grip which should guarantee maximum pleasure for another decade and a half.
Lamb Ossobuco. This was bone sucking good. Super rich, stewed and fatty. Ron and I were literally gnawing on the bones.
Ramen Roll Gelato, made by me. I brought these in but Sal’s crew plated them. In the front is Macha White, green tea with white chocolate. In the back my amazing Hazelnut Caramel with pure traditional hazelnut (made from Italian Hazelnut Regina paste) and house made caramel.
The normal Marino menu looks great, but is certainly more classic than Sal’s special dinner fare like above. If you like adventurous modern Italian, I’d see if he can do a special tasting menu — likely he’ll be up for it. Or several people could put together something really interesting from the regular menu if they think outside the normal appetizer, entree, dessert box. But it’s with this kind of special dinner — and not to mention the great crew and our awesome wines — that Sal’s cooking really knocks your socks off. He is a nut for detail and ingredients. He grows tons of stuff at home — like over a 100 varieties of heirloom tomato — and really knows how to adapt and pair with wine.
I had a lot of great meals at Il Grano, but this was probably the most on point of all of them. Every dish was pretty much a knock out. Bright fresh ingredients coupled with bright fresh flavors. I’m still dreaming of that truffle Cassonetti.
Restaurant: Odys + Penelope
Location:127 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 939-1033
Date: December 8, 2016
Cuisine: churrasco or asador?
Rating: Nice smoky flavors
Located on La Brea, it’s not far from Republique and the like.
Odys + Penelope describes itself as a churrasco and grill (which is more or less what churrasco means). It’s certainly a grill, but also doesn’t really feel that South American to me. Anyway, they have a ton of wood fired stuff.
Adam brought: 2006 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. VM 93+. Bright yellow with a green tinge. Cool aromas of crushed stone, citrus peel and white flowers. Dense, sweet and minerally, but quite youthfully closed and strict today, showing none of the honeyed character of the 2006 vintage. In fact, this broad, rich wine boasts terrific verve and finishes with palate-staining citrus and stone flavors. This is 13% natural alcohol with four grams per liter of acidity. It will be fascinating to compare this and the more austere 2005 a decade or so down the road.
Maple rosemary glazed beef ribs. Dish of the night. The fat was so integrated through the entire body of the meat, like Wagyu or as if they had massaged it — and the smoky deep flavor. This was some serious rib.
From their list: 2006 Cecile Tremblay Echezeaux. BH 91. The best wine in the range, which is not completely a surprise given how many excellent to genuinely superb examples of Echézeaux were produced in 2006. A pretty red berry fruit that is highly spiced with hints of animale, mocha, plum and warm earth, all of which can be found on the rich, full and dense flavors that display chocolate and dry port nuances while finishing with a mouth coating, powerful and seductively sappy finish. I noted last year that this lacked a bit of freshness but that is not the case from bottle as there is actually good vibrancy present.
Gingerbread copetta, mascarpone mousse, ginger-beer granita, butterscotch ice cream.
Warm caramel cake, poached pear, almond toffee, vanilla-almond ice milk.
Chocolate rye pie, peanut crumble, vanilla malted ice cream.
Overall, this was a great meal at Odys (my one and only so far) and I really enjoyed it for it’s unique “grill style”. Sort of like a BBQ crossed with a small plates place. Very old school and very modern at the same time. It bills itself as a churrasco, and there are certainly South American flavors here, but they don’t predominate. Certainly when I was last in South America (some time ago) the places were much more limited and old fashioned, not so far off from Fogo. Odys reminds me more of a Basque Asador — where all sorts of things are grilled up.
Doesn’t really matter because it’s good — as long as you like the taste of fire!
Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: December 3, 2016
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Awesome in all ways
This is my fourth visit to one of LA’s latest and hottest event restaurants, 71Above. The first can be found here.
Besides being located on the 71st floor (950 feet up!) of the US Bank building, being the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi, and showcasing the food of Chef Vartan Abgaryan, it’s owned and operated by my friend Emil Eyvazoff!
And behind that is the stunning dining room with its computer controlled auto tinting windows. Beyond that the view continues all the way around with the chef’s table and several more intimate private dining areas.
The view alone is worth the price of admission, and offers varied sights depending on your 360 degree angle. Notice how even the second tallest building downtown (seen under construction here) is below eye level! On a clear day you can easily see the vast sweep of the Pacific and several mountain ranges.
gougères. French cheese puffs.
Because you can never go wrong with Krug: NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé. BH 94. Medium rosé hue. A cool, restrained and highly complex nose that is not especially fruity displays a moderate yeast character along with slightly exotic aromas of mandarin orange and Asian tea, all wrapped in an enveloping array of beguiling rose petal scents. There is very good richness with a relatively firm supporting mousse that adds to the impression of richness to the superbly complex and highly textured flavors, indeed one could aptly describe this as more wine that Champagne. As such this is indeed a sumptuous Krug rosé that is difficult to resist already though it should reward extended keeping if desired. As I noted in the original 750 ml review, that while I am not always wowed by the Krug Rosé, this latest incarnation in magnum is strikingly good.
Sunchoke soup, Crème Fraîche, Sweet Garlic, Smoked Trout Roe, Dill.
The soup is added table-side. The dish is one of those velvety dairy based vegetable soups I love so much, knocked up even further by the creme.
Fig. Purslane, Red Onion, Goat Feta, Honey Vinegar, Lemon, Sumac Crisp.
From my cellar: 1996 Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste. Hune. JG 98+. At age ten the ’96 Clos Ste. Hune is just beginning to emerge from hibernation and is beginning to really show just how profound it will ultimately prove to be. The bouquet is deep and magical (and initially quite open, though a bit of the exuberance gets reigned in with extended aeration), soaring from the glass in an exotic mélange of black currant, sweet grapefruit, lime zest, loads of pulverized limestone, candied iris, incipient notes of polenta, a bit of fresh nutmeg and a topnote of currant leaf. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, surprisingly open on the attack, deep and laser-like, with a rock solid core of fruit, and great zip and rapier-like grip on the endless backend. The ’96 is just a monumental vintage of Clos Ste. Hune, that looks to be a bit more tightly-knit and elegant than the great 1990, while at the same time being equally powerful and profound.
Overall, 71Above is just a seriously well conceived and executed one-of-a-kind restaurant. Really, it’s more like a NY, Singapore, or Tokyo kind of concept. First of all, the view is just awesome. I can’t wait to come back on a really clear day. Particularly once they begin brunch service, a nice winter day will offer an observation deck like panorama.
But then Emil and crew built out such a lovely space to capture the drama. It’s modern, but welcoming. Not too loud, you can here the conversation and the music both. And from when you enter off the double elevator ascent it folds from one experience to another: lounge, dining room, more intimate corridors, chef table, quiet and romantic view areas in the back, and a series of two adjustable private dining rooms. The attention to architectural detail is amazing.
Then the menu has a creative format with a fixed price (currently $70) and three savory courses. You can pick from six options per category. If you are a glutton like me, you can add extra courses – and of course dessert. At the chef’s table one gets a 6 course (+ a few bonuses) for a very reasonable (considering what you get) $110 a person!
It should also be noted that an interesting menu wouldn’t be anything without great execution. As you can see in this post, the plating is modern but approachable and highly attractive. But the flavor on the dishes is paramount, and really quite excellent, particularly considering their complexity and textural variation. There is a balanced quality between opposite forces in Chef Abgaryan’s cooking that pulls from Chinese culinary theory, while that specific flavors and combinations are largely American/European. It’s both approachable and sophisticated. Bravo!
Location: 5722 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 871-4160
Date: December 1, 2016
Cuisine: New American French
Rating: Better every time!
I’ve known Kevin Meehan for years as a private and popup chef and have had the pleasure to enjoy many a fine meal he’s put together. But this year he transitioned into the more stationary, and possibly more hectic restaurant world by opening up his own Melrose Ave restaurant! This is our third Foodie Club visit.
With the opening of Kali Restaurant, Chef Kevin Meehan’s broad 23-year culinary career reaches its apex. At Kali, Meehan, whose deft hand was cultivated in Los Angeles’ most prestigious kitchens, joins forces with long-time friend and professional colleague, Drew Langley, previously the wine director at the iconic, Michelin-starred Providence.
For the 39-year-old Meehan, Kali represents the evolution of not just Kali Dining, his roving private dinner pop-up, but the rigorous years he spent refining his craft. The contemporary California restaurant blends the precision and hospitality of the white tablecloth kitchens where Meehan developed his culinary acumen, with the accessibility and ease of a local’s favorite neighborhood haunt.
Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Meehan’s initial foray in the industry was at a fried chicken joint when he was a teenager. While most would be turned off by working the fryer, Meehan was feeding an innate attraction to food, and, in the process, unearthing what would become a life-long love affair with the restaurant world. After graduating high school, Meehan enrolled in the esteemed Culinary Arts program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, an education that he would test and sharpen on-the-line during an apprenticeship at the Michelin-starred L’alban Chambon under French Master Chef Dominique Michou, and, later, alongside Los Angeles’ finest chefs.
In 2000, Meehan drove cross country to assume a post at the celebrated L’Orangerie, then helmed by Chef Ludo Lefebvre. It was there that Meehan met Langley, who he would subsequently work with at the now late Bastide, where Meehan served as Chef de Cuisine, and, later, at Citrine. After Citrine’s closure in 2005, Meehan joined Patina Restaurant Group as Chef de Cuisine at Joachim Spichal’s seminal Patina restaurant in Downtown. During his three-year tenure, the restaurant received a Michelin Star for its fresh interpretation of French cuisine informed by seasonality, and Meehan was consequently promoted to Executive Chef of Café Pinot.
In 2012, Meehan parted ways with the prolific restaurant group to launch his passion project, Kali Dining. The underground operation quickly garnered critical attention for Meehan’s assertive, yet nuanced tasting menus that he prepared, dinner party-style, for Los Angeles top tastemakers, luminaries, and food enthusiasts. Kali the restaurant was birthed from the success of Kali Dining, and the passion that Meehan and co-owner Langley share for pushing the boundaries of the typical fine dining experience.
For Kali, Kevin partnered with Drew Langley.
While most known for his esteemed tenure as the Wine Director at the Michelin-starred Providence in Los Angeles, Drew Langley brings an extensive resume of experience to Kali Restaurant, a passion project born out of his 15-year friendship with Chef Kevin Meehan.
As Co-owner and Wine Director of the contemporary California restaurant near Hollywood’s iconic Paramount Pictures Studios, the 39-year-old’s near life-long matriculation in the food & beverage industry is fully realized. Kali blends the haute cuisine and hospitality of a fine dining destination with the accessibility of an everyday neighborhood haunt, and Langley’s concise, intelligent wine program is a reflection of the core philosophy that defines the restaurant.
Born and raised in a small town in south Maryland, Langley’s initial introduction to the industry was as a dishwasher at a local pizzeria at the age of 13. While his contemporaries found inspiration in the classroom, Langley was drawn to the rhythm and intensity of the restaurant world, acquiring a vast understanding of its inner workings through odd jobs that ran the gamut from line cook at regional chain Perkin’s to corporate trainer for Applebee’s openings to bar back at Solomon’s Pier, a seafood restaurant and nightclub.
In 1997, the then 20-year-old Langley leapt at an opportunity to relocate to Los Angeles, and stumbled into a position at Greenblatt’s, a beloved deli and wine shop in West Hollywood, that would ultimately pave the way for his future career. Langley furthered his three-year wine education at Greenblatt’s with a position at Dennis Overstreet’s Beverly Hills Wine Merchant, before joining the now-closed L’Orangerie in Beverly Hills as Sommelier in 2000. It was there that Langley crossed paths with Meehan, who he would subsequently work alongside at the late Bastide and Citrine.
After opening Bastide in 2002 as Commis Sommelier, and enjoying a stint as Wine Director at Citrine in 2003, Langley switched gears to lend support to entrepreneur and wine collector Jeff Smith for the launch of Carte Du Vin. His time at the local wine cellar management firm birthed and deepened relationships with prominent private collectors, relationships that inform his wine program at Kali today. In 2005, Langley joined the opening team at Providence, serving as Wine Director for Michael Cimarusti’s nationally-acclaimed seafood destination through 2015 when he left to prepare for Kali’s debut in early 2016.
An avid music enthusiast, when Langley is not refining his wine list with new finds or overseeing the day-to-day operations at Kali, the Koreatown resident can be found indulging in the local drum-and-bass culture.
2004 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. VM 96. I am thrilled with the way the 2004 Comtes de Champagne continues to evolve in bottle. A few years ago, the 2004 was quite focused and linear, in the style of the vintage, but more recently, the wine has begun to fill out beautifully. The 2004 remains bright, with a full range of citrus, white flower and mineral nuances that dance on the palate. A brisk, saline-infused finish rounds things out beautifully in a Comtes that impresses for its crystalline purity. I expect the 2004 will always remain a bit cool next to the more opulent 2002, but it is still drop-dead gorgeous.
1999 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet. VM 92+. A mineral bath of a nose, with bright lemon and lime fruit notes. Youthfully austere, penetrating and sharply delineated; strong minerality currently dominates lemon and white grapefruit flavors. Bracing, near-painful finish features superb length and grip.
2015 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé. VM 93. Pale orange. Lively, expansive citrus pith and red currant aromas are complemented by suggestions of chalky minerals and white flowers. Sappy, concentrated and precise, offering palate-staining red berry and blood orange flavors and a hint of spicy white pepper. Shows excellent thrust and persistence on the mineral-driven finish, which emphatically echoes the floral and citrus fruit qualities. I’m impressed by the way this wine balances the opulence of the vintage with vivacity and I suspect it will reward at least another eight or so years of patience — standard behavior for this bottling, which ages more like a red wine than a pink one.
2004 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. BH 93. A mildly reduced nose features honeysuckle and acacia blossom notes introduces sweet, rich and beautifully complex flavors of impressive purity and vibrancy with brilliant length. A terrific effort that has the hallmark softness of Pucelles while retaining a firm and tangy, indeed almost linear finish that displays more minerality than usual.
1993 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens. BH 92. For years the ’93 de Montille Rugiens was impenetrable and it’s still incredibly youthful and in fact, not a great deal has changed except to note that little by little, the wine is gradually emerging from its awkward adolescence with a gorgeous and still primary nose of red and black pinot fruit that reflects obvious mineral notes. The vibrant and firm medium full flavors are impressively complex and are underpinned by firm but integrated tannins that leave the finish with a dusty texture. This will require the better part of the next decade to come around but it should be worth the wait.
From my cellar: 1996 Faiveley Corton-Clos des Cortons Faiveley. VM 94. Deep ruby color. Multidimensional aromas of violet, coffee, dried rose, clove, rare steak and seductive oak. Huge and tactile; really implodes in the mouth today. Extremely deep and lush, with the sheer sweetness to buffer its considerable acids and tannins. Oaky. Finishes extremely long, with very fine, tooth-coating tannins. With aeration, some of the baby fat melted away, and the wine’s powerful structure was manifest. Headspinning, old-style Burgundy, and very impressive. One to buy and cellar.
1999 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Echezeaux. 92 points. Complex and mature bouquet with -beside some red fruits- mostly tertiary impressions. Tar, toast, asphalt, gun powder, a bit organic and rustic. On the palate the same special impressions, minerals, volcanic, beautiful acidity, soft tannin and strawberries. Beautiful and very special wine. Drink now or in the next few years is probably a wise thing to do.
2008 Louis Jadot Grands-Echezeaux. VM 93. The 2008 Grands-Echezeaux is wonderfully expressive in its aromas and flavors. Clean, mineral notes frame an attractive melange of sweet red cherries, flowers, licorice and spices in this mid-weight, intensely long Burgundy. This is a classy effort from Jadot.
2005 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart. BH 96. n expressive and very ripe black berry fruit, spice, mocha, fresh coffee and earthy nose is surrounded by a generous blast of new oak that continues onto the rich, full, concentrated, powerful and sweet flavors that possess superb mid-palate density and huge length. This is an extremely rich wine and because of the influence of the wood, the detail that will very likely come with time in bottle has not yet developed but this is so concentrated yet balanced that it’s only a matter of time. This will live for ages and somewhat surprisingly, this is actually approachable now simply because it is so concentrated yet I suspect that when this finally shuts down, it will stay there for the better part of a decade. In a word, fantastic.
Toasted Meringue Gelato. grated candied yolk. This tasted like sweet cream with a dusting of salty eggy goodness. It was mild, creamy, and absolutely stunning. I ate two.
Overall, not only was this a great meal with great friend (and wine), but Kevin’s food was really bang up fabulous. He’s always been a very talented chef but it seems to me, and I noted how in my previous visit that he’s really polished the cooking. This trend has continued, because in a few short months things have gone from great to… well greater. I don’t know anyone else in LA that’s doing this kind of ingredient focused cooking and yet nailing it with such bright pure flavors. The dishes have this balanced tension that is very sophisticated and some of them are pretty stand out amazing like the yellowtail, burrata, cod, steak, duck, and gelato — and noticed how I named a LOT of dishes because the percentage of knock outs is very high!
Service was great. We felt like family.
Really great stuff. Bravo Kevin and Drew!
I return to Bru’s Wiffle for more chicken, waffles chicken & waffles and more!
Location: 3578 Hayden Ave, Culver City, CA 90232
Date: December 1, 2016
Cuisine: Modernist / Scandinavian
Rating: Cool daytime only spot
When we last checked in with chef Jordan Kahn he was playing host to Elrond’s table at Red Medicine.
spice bread,creme fraiche,black currant,elderflower. Looks awesome. Kinda tasted awesome too, like scones and clotted cream — except for the weird moss. That was only for texture and just kinda interesting.
Overall, this was a really neat little place. Just kinda fun. Fun flavors. Fun textures. Fun attention to detail. I’ll definitely be back.