Restaurant: Laurent Quenioux [1, 2, 3]
Location: Near Pasadena
Date: November 4, 2015
Cuisine: Modern French
Four and a half years ago Foodie Club co-organizer Erick and I put together one of our more legendary dinners, the Bistro LQ Trufflumpagus. Now it’s time for the return!
Chef Laurent Quenioux grew up in Sologne, France, where he developed a passion for food. As a young boy, Quenioux and his father would hunt duck, partridge, and rabbit. Then, he and his mother would prepare her favorite recipes in the kitchen. Eventually, Quenioux left home to embark on an apprenticeship where he trained in some of Europe’s finest kitchens. Quenioux spent time at Maxim’s, Bistro De Paris and La Ciboulette in Paris, before moving on to Negresco in Nice and LaBonne Auberge in Antibe.
In the early 1980s, Quenioux made a move to the United States with a team from L‘Oasis at La Napoule to open The Regency Club in Los Angeles. In 1985, he introduced the celebrated and award-winning 7th Street Bistro in downtown Los Angeles. In the early 2000s, Quenioux debuted the cozy Bistro K in Pasadena and in 2009, Bistro LQ in Beverly Hills. At Bistro LQ, Quenioux set new standards for cuisine in Southern California with his Farmer’s Market-driven kitchen and an emphasis on value and fun.
Returning to Pasadena, Quenioux continues to delight patrons and critics alike in his role as Executive Chef at Old Pasadena’s celebrated Vertical Wine Bistro.
For this special dinner featuring fresh white truffles the chef hosted us at his house, out on the back patio.
Will brought: 1998 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. VM 94-5. Bright gold. Ripe orchard fruits, peach pit, toffee, marzipan and dried flowers on the pungent, smoky nose. Broad and fleshy on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering palate-staining pit fruit nectar, apple pie and brioche flavors, enhanced by a toffeed quality. Closes spicy and very long, with resonating smoke and toasted hazlenut qualities.
From my cellar: 2006 Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée. AG 94. Mint, white flowers, pastry and yellow orchard fruit meld together in Krug’s NV Grande Cuvée. This is one of the very best versions of the Grande Cuvée I can remember tasting in recent years. The impression of total silkiness on the palate is classic Krug. Even though this release is exceptional today, I would be tempted to cellar a few wines for the future, as the best Grand Cuvées age effortlessly. This release is based on 2006 and includes wines from 11 vintages going back to 1990.
From my cellar: NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this cuvée, but with no lack of vivacity.
On the left, Buckwheat truffle blinis, ankimo, caviar de Sologne, wagyu.
On the right, Bone marrow, sopes, hutlacoche, truffles.
Mark brought: 1983 Joseph Drouhin Chevalier-Montrachet. agavin 93. Very nutty and drinking rather lovely for its advanced age. Some reductive notes still.
Mark brought: 1983 Louis Latour Montrachet. BR 95. Golden. Deep and sweet nose with butterscotch and lanolin. The palate is intense without weight. Very nice acidity though lower than some – but that doesn’t seem to have harmed it. Overall a very impressive wine that has depth and still plenty of ripe fruit, but just missing an extra zip for the absolute top prize.
agavin: our bottle was just a touch inferior to the Chevy, but was still in very good shape.
“La ratte” potatoes, melted 24 months Comte cheese, H8 vinaigrette, truffles.
Very yummy, with a rich velvety quality.
Will brought: 1990 Domaine Michel Niellon Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 96. Wonderfully expressive, ripe, forward and complex white fruit and honeysuckle aromas explode from the glass leading to incredibly rich and powerful, massively proportioned flavors of simply incredible depth and awesome length. One of the greatest examples of this vineyard I have ever had and it should be capable of living for a long time to come. A genuinely terrific wine of uncommon breed, class and power.
Will brought: 1991 Domaine Michel Niellon Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 88. Fully mature aromas of honey and a lovely roasted bread quality lead to fat, rich, slightly heavy flavors of good length if not necessarily the best balance. To be sure, a perfectly good wine that is drinking perfectly now and should probably be drunk over the next 5 years.
agavin: much more mature than the 90, but rounded out in the glass and was still impressive for 91
Maine diver scallops crudo, bottarga, chanterelles, escabeche.
This dish had some unusual flavor notes going on. Perhaps it was the bottarga.
Veal tartar, sun choke chips, pickled onions, truffles brioche, celery leaves.
A really nice integration of all the classic tartar elements. Truffles and pickles, how can that not go with raw meat?
Truffle soup VGE. Rabbit albondigas.
Inside this buttery pot-pie pastry was a traditional kind of soup with “meat balls” made from rabbit. Quite lovely.
Trish brought: 1999 Domaine Ramonet Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 96. This is now knocking on the front door of its full maturity with the classic white flower, green apple and limestone aromas all framed by a touches of citrus and spice components as well. The flavor profile combines intense minerality and marvelous detail plus fantastic depth and breadth, all wrapped in a hugely long and powerful finish. This just oozes class and while it could be approached now because of the superb mid-palate fat, for my tastes, I would give this another 2 to 3 years in bottle and then drink over the next 10+. Note that I have upgraded my score as the wine has added notably more depth than I originally envisioned.
agavin: another great great bottle.
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 93. Big, rich and muscular yet this offers excellent definition with explosive fruit trimmed in obvious anise notes and luxuriant, sappy, dense flavors of uncommon depth and complexity. The finish is rather linear presently yet offers wave after wave of mouthwatering extract, all beautifully framed by more than sufficient buffering acidity. A Bâtard worthy of the name and a great success for the vintage.
agavin: still very fresh and reductive.
Truffle congee, poached hen egg, crispy basil snails Karaage, uni.
Wow! This was an amazing dish. One of the best congee I’ve had. The thing that looks like a bao or burrata was actually a poached egg. The fried snails were amazing too.
Celery root risotto, king crab, truffle air, aged parmesan, uni.
Another wonderful dish. Very harmonious. And that crab was fabulous.
From my cellar: 2000 Domaine Jacques Prieur Montrachet. VM 93. I tasted a sample of this wine from tank; the real bottling was scheduled for the next day) Bright but reticent aromas of iodine, clove and nutty oak. Fat, round and silky, with superb weight and volume. By far the richest and longest of this set of wines, with the most volume. Very suave and mouthfilling, but with plenty of underlying backbone and power. Very tightly wound but also very long on the aftertaste.
agavin: I was nervous since I had a corked bottle at the Locanda dinner, but this bottle was a stunner. Incredibly powerful.
Trish brought: 2002 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Montrachet. Burghound 94. The bottle in the tasting displayed definite notes of premature oxidation. I last tasted this in 2011 and that note is: Astonishingly pure fruit aromas of very ripe pear, peach, honeysuckle and lovely green fruit are nicely complemented by a subtle hint of oak spice that merges seamlessly into powerful yet exquisitely delineated, strongly mineral laden flavors of incredible length. This has an amazing depth of sève and it completely stains and coats the palate. This combination of a silky palate impression yet driving intensity makes this an extremely impressive and very classy effort. For my taste this has just arrived on the front end of its peak drinkability and this beauty should be capable of holding at this level for years to come.
Pacific lobster, Malaise, Truffle vichyssoise, nest.
Santa Barbara prawn, truffle creme brulee, brussels sprouts, xo.
This had interesting autumn notes of spices and such.
Amanda brought: 1991 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares. Burghound 92. Big, rich and explosive, still very primary fruit nose that displays only the barest hints of secondary development followed by big, powerful, classically robust and structured flavors that offer superb depth and exceptionally good length. Still youthful, this should benefit from another 3 to 5 years of cellar time but live for a long time after that. A first-rate effort that will probably always possess a slight tannic edge to the finish yet the power and depth make it easy to overlook this.
agavin: Our bottle was cloudy and funky. Not undrinkable, but not really pleasant either.
Larry H brought: 2005 Domaine Robert Groffier Bonnes Mares. Burghound 94. I was frankly shocked to find that the aromatic profile here was even more elegant and arguably finer than that of the Amoureuses with its bright red and blue pinot fruit, minerals and spice notes, particularly anise that complement to perfection the sleek, taut, brooding and focused flavors that explode on the hugely long and deep finish. This is an impressive wine that has that ‘wow’ factor.
agavin: a young stunner. Really good.
Halibut, truffle granola, hazelnuts, chanterelles, brown butter vinaigrette.
The granola was crazy good. Chewy crunchy and a bit sweet.
Larry H brought: 2000 Château d’Yquem. Parker 90. The millennial 2000 Chateau d’Yquem is a valiant effort in one of the most challenging Sauternes vintages in recent memory. The 2000 is quite deep in color. The nose is crisp and well-defined but not the most complex, as you would expect from a truly challenging growing season in Sauternes. It is pleasant in its own way with delicate scents of tangerine, yellow flowers and Mirabelle. The palate is well-balanced with marmalade tinged opening. I like the acidity here, an Yquem with good race, although it does feel a little tapered toward the finish. Drink now-2025.
agavin: very nice sticky in a good spot.
Corn veloute, apple wood bacon, foie gras, truffle Soubise.
A fabulous foie. That corn veloute really notched it up too.
Pintade hen, crispy truffle potato crust, salsify, quince.
From my cellar: 1971 Maison Roche de Bellene Volnay 1er Cru Santenots Collection Bellenum. agavin 87. Weird menthol notes.
Erick brought: 1988 Domaine Georges Mugneret/Mugneret-Gibourg Clos Vougeot. 87 points. Pretty tannic.
Amanda brought: 1995 Domaine Dujac Echezeaux. Burghound 90. Beautiful black fruit aromas laced with Vosne spice leads to medium weight, elegant, sappy and quite dense flavors that offer beautiful complexity and terrific length. What it isn’t at this point is especially complex but the tannins are well-integrated and this should drink well for all its life. I would give it another 10 years and drink over the next 10. Really pretty juice of evident class.
agavin: a great bottle. Powerful, fruity, and delicious.
Liberty duck breast, figs, vinegar jus, truffle confit rutabaga.
Here we have sweetness, and more than a little of those autumn notes. That jam like stuff was “spiced.”
From my cellar: 1989 Domaine Leroy Nuits St. Georges Aux Lavières. 94 points. Absolutely beautiful bottle. Floral scents with violets and roses, a lovely earthy underbrush tone on the nose. Bright red toned fruit, cinnamon and spice with a cherry backbone. Just got better and betterover time. Perfect balance, luscious fruit and a long finish. Plush yet sharp. A terrific effort.
Amanda brought: 1991 Domaine Leroy Pommard Les Vignots. 93 points. tart red cherry, candle wax, sl spice nose; full bodied, red raspberry, red pie cherry flavors, body matches promise of the nose; tannic, oaky in a new world way, finish all about barrels, not fruit; need rich sauce, meat to cover the tannins in the finish.
Veal sweetbreads, porcini, carrot emulsion, truffle.
I’m not a sweetbreads fan, but this was amazing. Rich too.
Amanda picked up these two old Italians in order to replace some we had lost in a “guest shuffle.”
1958 Oddero Barolo. LF 94. This was sauvage and untamed as a Barolo I’ve experienced. This was all black tar, dark cherry/berry fruits and a little horse on the nose with some macerated flowers and rotting forest floor. Lovely deep, sauvage nose. Sauvage Piedmont style though. The palate was big and concentrated. Apparently alot of the fruit that went into this was from Vigna Rionda which would explain the massive palate presence still at forty plus years old. This really opened up and became much more of a complete wine after around an hour. Definetly a bit less finesse than the Fiorina but compelling in a differnt way for itas singular character within the context of Barolo. Fantastic wine that really seemed four or five years away from full maturity.
agavin: this bottle was pretty nice, very Barolo!
1971 Gaja Barbaresco. VM 93. Angelo Gaja’s 1971 Barbaresco, takes a few hours to open up, but when it does it is fabulous. Still deep and quite intense, the 1971 is a testament to how well Nebbiolo can age.
agavin: ours was a bit on the “mature and cloudy” side.
Painted Hills Beef Hanger, vadouvan, eggplant mole, truffles.
Very rare. More autumn spaces too.
Emil brought: 2003 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg. Burghound 93. his too is very aromatically reserved with only glimpses of spicy and exotic perfume that speak of very ripe, even slightly surmature crushed berries, plum and spice because even though the nose is reticent, the intensity of the fruit is magnificent. The flavors are opulent and sumptuously proportioned with massive amounts of sap and dry extract that completely stains and coats the palate before exploding on the hugely long finish. Yes, this is a big, indeed enormous wine but one that never loses its sense of balance and the velvety backend largely buffers the very firm tannins. There is not necessarily great complexity yet but this is the one wine in the range that could easily surprise to the upside as the raw material here is exceptional and while the style is clearly particular relative to what it normally delivers, it has that “wow’ factor.
agavin: we decanted at the start of the dinner. Wow! Very nice massive powerful and complex bottle of Riche.
Erick brought: 1990 Gros Frère et Sœur Richebourg. JG 92. Starts off a bit meaty and sweaty but breathes up beautifully. Almost looks like an aged DRC with all of its hoisin and soy action. It has notes of mushroom and meat. It is full, rich and intense with acidity that is gentle and length that is superb.
agavin: oh Richebourg, how I love thee!
Scottish wild Hare ravioli, chestnut truffle nage, pecorino.
Vacherin cheese, truffle honey.
Tiny, but lovely. And the honey was amazing.
I love epoisse, but I was a bit disappointed by how much the alcohol in the “flambee” dominated the cheese.
From my cellar: 1977 Dow Porto Vintage. 95-100 points. Wonderful dusty cherry, prune/plum, and raisin aromas. Generous on the palate with more fruit and subtle, tawny-like carmel. Long finish.
agavin: a powerhouse. Next one I’m going to give some more years and then decant.
Chocolate Marquise, Thai basil, mango, macaron.
A really nice bit of chocolate with the mango brightening it up.
Tonka Cremeux, butter ice cream, caramel, granola.
And another great use of that granola.
Overall, this was one of those supremely epic dinners. The food was totally over the top, and delicious at that. Lots and lots of truffle. Not every dish was perfect, but many were very very good. Standouts include the congee, the lobster, the sweetbreads (I have a hard time saying it), and the foie.
The wine was particularly great. Almost all the whites were superb and many of the reds stellar like the Dujac, the Leroys, and both Richebourgs. The Krugs and dessert wines were no slouch either.
Certainly worthy of being called epic.
For more LA dining reviews click here.
Or for more Foodie Club reviews.