Restaurant: Smoke Oil Salt [1, 2]
Location: 7274 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046. (323) 930-7900
Date: May 6, 2014
Rating: Good “New American” Spanish
Hedonist leader Yarom is an investor in the new Smoke Oil Salt, a tapas bar from Adam Fleischman (Unami Burger) and Perfecto Rocher (Lazy Ox), so it’s only natural that the group should hit it up just a few weeks after opening.
Our special menu tonight, but we had considerably more than this as you’ll see.
2002 Delamotte Champagne Blanc de Blancs Millésimé. IWC 92. Pale yellow-gold. Fresh citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complicated by notes of gingerbread, white flowers and sweet butter. Toasty lees and mineral qualities gain power with air, adding depth to the wine’s gently sweet pear, honey and tangerine flavors. At once rich and lively, finishing with excellent clarity and alluring mineral and floral character. This Champagne, which I’ve tasted from three different disgorgements now, is proving that it’s built for the long haul.
Olives and bitets. Olives, toasted almonds, manchego, peppers. Very tasty. Particularly the olives and the olive oil soaked cheese (hard to see).
Amanida de remolatxa. Beet salad, goat cheese, watercress. The beet salad has become omnipresent — and boring — but this one had nice bright flavors. The sweetness of the beets contrasted nicely with the vinaigrette and the salty cheese. The watercress and frise offset the smooth textures.
From my cellar: 2011 Raul Pérez Rías Baixas Sketch. Parker 93. The 2011 Sketch is just wonderful – pure Albarino from vines planted in 1972 on sand and granite soils, it sees 12 months in French oak. Interestingly, Raul opted to age some lots underwater in order to see how the lack of oxygen impacts upon the elevage (although some of the lots were spoiled and of course, did not enter the final blend!) The nose is reticent at first, but over one hour it unfolds to offer subtle notes of lime and a tinge of sea-foam, the oak barely noticeable. The palate is exquisite: beautifully balanced and with real race and tension. There is an adorable twist of bitter lemon that keeps this Sketch on its toes. Taut, pure and effortlessly speaking of its place, this is just a delightful Rias Baixas that you will savor to the last drop. Drink now-2017+.
Xarcuteria d’iberic. charcuterie of iberican meats and cheeses. Lots of good stuff here. Salty blue cheese, manchego, and yummy meats.
2005 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Cote de Bouguerots. Burghound 92. A ripe nose evidences moderate Chablis character with plenty of saline character that continues on the big, rich, intense and powerful flavors that evidence plenty of mid-palate concentration. Interestingly, this got better and better the more it aired and while this is a big wine it’s not ponderous or heavy, all wrapped in a well-balanced and persistent finish. This could be drunk now with pleasure or aged further to good effect. Impressive.
Braves trencades. Fried potatoes, serrano ham, chorizo, fried egg. Sort of the ultimate ham and eggs breakfast. This was certainly YUMMY. The yolk from the egg helps soak the soft potatoes underneath and tie it all together.
2001 Henri Boillot Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 94. The purity here is mind bending and this is perhaps the most transparent wine in this entire group. Elegant, fine and crystalline with superbly detailed fruit and flavors with a positively brilliant, almost painfully intense finish that is astonishingly long. Classy and altogether imposing with its unmatched combination of complexity, depth and focus. While I cannot argue that this has better material than either the Montrachet or the incredible Corton-Charlemagne, I can say that stylistically, the Chevalier is my personal favorite. This is unquestionably a great wine. (Drink between 2008-2013)
agavin: our bottle was tasty but a bit premoxed.
Pa amb tomaca i llangonisses. Catalan tomato toast with sausages. Tasty.
1997 Luis Pato Bairrada Vinha Barrosa.
Artichoke tostada. An omelet with artichoke and salad.
1997 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5°. IWC 87. Bright medium ruby. Slightly roasted aromas of plum, tobacco leaf and loam, plus the tarry/vegetal complexity often shown by this bottling. Rich and layered in the mouth, with subtle sweetness; good density leavened by very firm acids. Falls a bit short on the back end, which shows some lemony acidity and toothdusting, slightly dry tannins.
Swiss chard. With pine-nuts and raisons.
From my cellar: 1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Janus Gran Reserva Pesquera. 93 points. Most of us thought this the wine of the night along with the 94 Unico. Very complex and fruity. Cassis.
Peixet Fregit. Fried smelt, fennel, pickles, horseradish aioli. Fried small fish. Hard to tell what was inside, as the fry was very tasty — a bit salty though.
1994 Vega Sicilia Unico. Parker 96-98. The 1994 Unico is a blend of 80% Tinto Fino, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot (presumably 2% is unknown varieties) that was picked from September 28. It is very intense with notes of raspberry, wild strawberry and mulberry with sensational minerality and vigor. There is a Margaux-like florality to the 1994 that blossom with aeration. The palate is rounded and supple on the entry with great weight and backbone. There is real substance here, similar to the 1996. It expands in the mouth with ravishing notes of blackberry, strawberry, citrus lemon, orange peel and a touch of cedar. There is enormous weight on the finish, a behemoth of a Unico. This is very potent, but it still requires several years in bottle. 96,280 bottles produced. Drink 2019-2040.
Elk. Yarom and a friend shot this elk, and here it returns with mushrooms and rosemary. It was incredibly tender and delicious.
1985 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Unico Reserva Especial. 95 points.
Pheasant. He also killed the pheasant, which was cooked with lentils, sausage, and garbanzo beans. A tad dry.
1996 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. Parker 96-97. Pablo Alvarez quipped that in 1996, the growing season was so benevolent, that the winemaker was not even necessary! The 1996 Unico has a very pure, pastille-like bouquet with raspberry, wild strawberry, crushed stone and a touch of Chinese tea. It has impressive delineation and linearity. The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannins. The fruit profile is shimmering in the glass with black cherries, cassis and blueberry notes. It is very feminine and powerful towards the poised, tensile finish that is long and seductive. One of the finest recent vintages, suffused with sensuality and opulence, the 1996 Unico is destined to be a great wine, one that might unfairly be over-shadowed by the 1994. 99,480 bottles produced. Drink 2020-2040+.
Calamars amb mongetes. Monterey bay baby calamari, warm cranberry beans.
1976 R. López de Heredia Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Bosconia. IWC 96. Pale-edged red. Multidimensional nose of raspberry, black plum, orange zest, coffee, milk chocolate, game and a superripe whiff of raisin. Uncanny sweetness in the mouth, with a strong spine of acidity framing and intensifying the fruit flavors. Really remarkable acid/fruit balance. Big, rich, powerful and deep. Finishes extremely long and magically fresh. Contains about 80% tempranillo, a bit high for Bosconia, which is always higher in tempranillo (and spends less time in barrel) than Tondonia. The Bosconia and Tondonia gran reservas are selections made in the cellar; both are from Vi?a Tondonia grapes, a 100-hectare holding purchased by Maria Jose’s great-grandfather in 1912 (the first Vi?a Tondonia Gran Reserva was from the 1920 vintage). Bosconia, says Maria Jose, is a stronger, more youthful, longer-lasting style of Rioja, with more power and body. It’s for the younger generation, she adds, while the Tondonia is altogether more classical. On my last visit to this bodega, in 1994, I scored the ’76 Tondonia Gran Reserva 97 points.
Valencia callos. Honeycomb tripe stew, spanish chorizo, chickpeas. By far my least favorite dish, and others, as it sat on the table. I’m just not a tripe fan.
2008 Benjamin Romeo Contador. Parker 98. The 2008 Contador, rapidly becoming one of Rioja’s benchmark wines, is composed of 86% Tempranillo and 14% Garnacha aged for 18 months in new French oak. It is a glass-coating opaque purple color with an exceptional bouquet of sandalwood exotic spices, lavender, incense, espresso, tapenade, and blackberry. Dense and mouth-coating, it deftly combines elegance and power in a structured wine that will easily achieve its 20th birthday and well beyond.
agavin: young, but awesome.
1978 Francois Gros Chambolle-Musigny. Fabulous for a mature village wine like this.
Cassoleta de fideua negra. Squid ink pasta, calamari, mushrooms, honey aioli.
This was scrumptious, so I have to show another close up picture.
1978 Vin Santo dell Abbadia. Mature, and paired nicely with the chocolate.
Arros amb llet de xoxolata. Valrhona chocolate rice pudding, salty caramel, cinnamon whipped cream. This was certainly tasty, even if it looked like… well you know.
All in all another great evening of pure hedonism. For a brand new restaurant SOS is strong out the gate. It is right in there in the current “wood table, paper menu, small plates, loud room” thing that dominates new restaurants in LA right now. The food is quite Catalan/Valencian and very good. Only the tripe dish missed the mark. Some of the others, like the squid ink pasta and the eggs and ham were spectacular.
It didn’t hurt that we had a giant group of 16-18 and really fabulous wines either!
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