Location:212 South Beverly Drive. Beverly Hills, CA. (310) 859-3418
Date: December 11, 2014
Rating: Good, but slightly deconstructed
I’ve wanted to try Maude since it opened last February, but the annoying reservation system turned me off. They open reservations by phone only on the first Saturday of the month before for the whole month. I spent 40 minutes autodialing with 3 people on 4 phones and we ended up with two completely random reservations. Ours was at 5:30 on a Tuesday. Really, they should raise prices or use the website or both.
Anyway, the restaurant has a very unusual format. All prix fix. Chef Curtis Stone sums it up as follows: “One Key Ingredient. Nine Courses. Twenty-Five Seats. My dream little restaurant.” Each month has a different ingredient and a single fixed menu. Ours was Winter Squash.
The interior is really cute. It reminded me more of New York or some other “classier” city than LA. It’s tiny, but filled with elegant (but casual) little details. It’s not modernist or particularly hipster (thank God).
Soapbox time! They do have one of those annoying corkage policies too. $50, which would be fine, except it’s one bottle per couple. Now this is far, far more sensible than the fixed number per table, as it works tolerably for 6-8 person tables (which they barely have), but still I don’t get it. I understand that restaurants need to make money off beverages. I understand that they have a cute little wine list. But $50 a bottle should cover it, and the limit isn’t going to make serious wine people buy off the list. They don’t and can’t possibly have a list that serves us. Not without investing a fortune. We brought 3 bottles per couple. My friend Michael brought the whites and I brought the reds. They don’t have and couldn’t reasonably have any Burgundy we’d be interested in on the list. Nor unless they priced them stunningly low would I buy them at wine list price. So why have the limit? It only discourages serious wine guys from dining. If anyone in the restaurant business has any idea why this increasingly common policy makes any sense, I’d love to hear it in the comments.
On the plus side, the Sommelier/wine director was extremely nice, friendly, and knowledgeable. Extremely nice. He did a great job.
Picking the white was tough. We also has a 2002 Jadot Montrachet and a 2000 Domaine d’Auvenay (Lalou Bize-Leroy) Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières! I went with the Coche because — well I love Coche, but Michael and I promised to save our respective other wines to drink with each other at a later date. Great deal!
2000 Coche-Dury Meursault Les Chevalières. Burghound 92. The tightest and most precise of the three 2000 Meursault villages wines of stunning intensity and simply unbelievable purity and this stains and coats the palate with wet stones and an interesting chalky texture. This will require time and should age well for at least a decade as the acidity is ripe and vibrant, giving the flavors real lift, especially on the wonderfully persistent backend.
Maude does have its rules. No flash too I had to use an iphone to get a modicum of light. After this, I’ve now ordered a bigass LED light with 160 diodes! haha! It may not flash, but it will be bright! But until then, these photos have a pathetic depth of field.
Squash Salad. Duck breast, Farro, watercress, Pumpkin.
And a reverse shot of it that shows off the duck better. All the elements of this dish were very nice, and there were LOTS of textures going on. The foam. The sauce blobs. Shaved vegetable. Leaf. The dusty freeze-dried stuff. The meat. The problem was there was no was to get any great number of them in your mouth at once, so the whole thing felt a bit deconstructed and discombobulated.
Striped Bass. Little gem. Anchovy. Chicken. I’m guessing the chicken was in the form of the cracklings (which were awesome), and the fish was nicely done. Although again it was a bit hard to get the other elements in one bite.
I brought the reds. We also has a 93 Jadot Beze and a 98 Bachelet Charmes VV on hand.
From my cellar: 1997 Domaine Anne Gros Richebourg. JG 92+. Fresh, expressive and elegant aromas of cherries, black berries and pinot extract followed by medium weight, relatively fine, nicely detailed flavors that lack a bit of mid palate density. There is better acidity than most of the wines in this group and one is struck by the finesse, unusual for both the appellation at such a young age and certainly the vintage. In sum, this is beautifully detailed rather than dense with fine but prominent finishing tannins. While it could be drunk and enjoyed now, it should continue to improve.
Oxtail Raviolo. Spaghetti Squash, truffle, Rye Crumble. A tasty dish, it had a light foamy quality with an unusual mixture of textures that I’m now picking up as a Curtis Stone signature. The soft foam, the squirmy squash, the crunch crumble.
Overall, we had a great time. Our wine was fabulous. The atmosphere is wonderful, the staff warm, and the food extremely interesting. It’s a highly intellectual cuisine, playing off a lot of forms and textures. Nothing clashed or failed, but sometimes the dishes didn’t seem fully integrated. Mostly it was all those textures and separate elements. It was hard to see exactly how they combined. The flavors err on the subtle, which made them compliment extremely well with the Burgundy. I really want to go back — although I’m not thrilled at the idea of autodialing and having little choice about date!
And what’s with grandma’s old china?