Restaurant: Saint Martha
Location: 740 Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005. (213) 387-2300
Date: May 29, 2015
Cuisine: Modern American
Rating: Really savory
I’ve been wanting to try Saint Martha since it opened, having heard really good things about it.
The tiny frontage in a random Koreatown minimall.
There is a little chef’s counter and behind the camera the small table space.
2002 Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut Cuvée Palmes d’Or. VM 92. Vivid yellow-gold. Ripe orchard and pit fruits complicated by flowers, smoke and spices on the nose and palate. Broad and fleshy but lively as well, with gentle acidity adding back-end lift and cut. Spreads out very nicely on the leesy finish, which hangs on with strong toasty persistence. This hefty Champagne could handle the richest foods.
Fried mussel with saffron. A deconstructed fried moulles.
Hamachi nuoc cham, tiny green things and crispy rice cracker. Small but delicious with bright flavors.
Juniper cured salmon with smoked goat cheese, pickle and everything bagel churro. Really yummy take on salmon.
Uni “tataki” with avocado mousse, serrano, hearts of palm and seaweed doritos. Delicious briny bite.
From my cellar: 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.
agavin: needed a little time to open, and a touch of reductive funk. Delicious, but not as good as the previous bottle I opened.
Chicken liver mousse with mushroom, hazelnut praline, pickled blueberries and toast. Tasted like holiday dinner chicken liver mixed with Nutella! Rich and delicious.
The toast for the liver.
Octopus with koshihikari rice, sauce nero, lardo and espelette. Really nice light octopus bite.
Crab and sake cream “okonomiyaki”. I used to get these all the time in Japan. This was definitely taken up a notch.
2010 Domaine Roulot Meursault 1er Cru Les Poruzots. Burghound 92. There is a hint of exotic fruit to the expressive nose of dried apricot, white peach and pineapple hints. There is outstanding size, weight and muscle to the overtly powerful middle weight plus flavors that possess a lemon character on the lightly mineral-infused finish that delivers terrific complexity. As is typical for this wine, it’s no model of finesse but it certainly delivers excellent depth and plenty of development potential.
agavin: Fresh and highly reductive, this was drinking great. It might close down soon, but was certainly highly enjoyable young great white Burg.
Beets with avocado, curry-almond streusel and coriander. Sweet, almost like a beet dessert. Really good though with a great interplay of textures. The beet was sorbet like constancy and texture.
Mixed baby carrots with coconut, tamarind sriracha and puffed amaranth. A bit of a kick. Delicious combo and cold smoothness of the coconut (ice cream?).
From my cellar: 2005 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon. Burghound 91. A discreet touch of pain grillé and reduction frames fresh and exotic aromas of peach, melon and mango that continue onto the round, rich and concentrated flavors that possess real texture due to the solid dry extract on the mouth coating and solidly long finish. This is notably better than it usually is.
agavin: A little advanced, as there were oxidative notes, but drinking great right now.
Chicken skin granola with spiced date jam, sunchoke, parsnip milk and frozen foie gras.
He adds the parsnip milk.
Then shaves foie on! The whole thing tasted like granola cereal. It was weird how much it did.
Japanese sweet potato tempura with lime cream, chili and crushed peanuts. Great little bit of sweet fry.
From my cellar: 1993 Louis Jadot Bonnes Mares. Burghound 92. Earthy, deep and wonderfully fresh fruit leads to dense, solidly tannnic, beautifully delineated and focused, rich flavors of exceptional purity and length. While the finish is firm, it is by no means hard and there is excellent buffering sève all underpinned by vibrant acidity. There is plenty of wine here but this is a wine for the patient and it should live for years to come.
agavin: like delicious cherry soda.
Yellowtail collar. Super super and flavorful.
Brassicas with brewer’s yeast broth, mushroom and egg.
Bread to dip in it. This wasn’t the easiest dish to split!
Scallop steamed in smoked kombu with braised kohlrabi, enoki and brown butter dashi. Yum!
Whole Thai snapper that was cooked with all these aromatic leaves.
The chef brought of the fish to show us.
Thai snapper with black puddling broth. This was a delicious fish. Smoky and full of flavor and the broth was amazing. I even loved the blood sausage.
1985 Domaine Jean Grivot Echezeaux. agavin 91. A little leaner than the 93 above, but still lots of bright cherry action going on.
Pecan wood smoked brisket with lettuce, carrot, daikon and chili-hoisin. Soft, fatty and A LOT of flavor.
Fried chicken thigh with snails, acorn spaetzle and parsley garlic sauce. Super tender chicken.
Braised pork belly with eggplant parmesan, grits, rapini and manchamantel. Decadent!
From my cellar: 1990 Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Betsek. 93 points. Like mostly sweet raison juice. A very enjoyable oxidative quality too, like a sweeter mid sweet sherry.
Passion fruit. This was an amazing dessert. Interesting texture and temperature plays too.
Strawberry. More great texture plays. This tasted great too, like some soft strawberry cobbler.
PB&J. A sort of take on the classic with peanut butter and strawberry inc cream, brioche, and chocolate crackles.
Shortbread cookies. Really nice ones out of some odd grain.
Overall I was super impressed with Saint Martha. This is some really inventive cooking. Every dish worked to some degree and 80% of them were fabulous. Great textural playfulness, and bright bright flavors with a good amount of subtle Vietnamese influence too. But very modern American. Nick Erven is an extremely talented chef. Service was first rate too and it had a fun and lively vibe.