Restaurant: Tasting Kitchen
Location: 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291 (310) 392-6644
Date: November 14, 2017 & February 19, 2018
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Fun place, good food, great service
Years ago I used to read about all sorts of popup dinners with great chefs at Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney. I never went because I’m just not that into mobilizing rapidly for popups (unless someone else organizes and invites me).
But Tasting Kitchen eventually turned into a restaurant of its own — albeit the concept that led to the name is totally different. Tonight core members of the Foodie Club descend on it to work our special kind of over-the-top magic.
From my cellar: NV Demière-Ansiot Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs. BH 93. A beautifully yeasty nose reflects notes of apple, pear, white flowers and a hint of citrus peel. The vibrant middle weight flavors possess a positively gorgeous texture, indeed the mid-palate is almost creamy, while offering excellent depth and length on the dry but not austere finale. For my taste this is drinking perfectly now and I very much like both the style and the quality.
Bread & Butter. Delicious, but extra money.
From my cellar: 2007 Pierre Morey Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 93+. Pale, bright yellow. Knockout nose combines underripe pineapple, crushed stone and a flinty nuance. Big, rich and voluminous, but with lovely penetration and purity to the pineapple and crushed stone flavors. Wonderfully sweet, tactile wine with outstanding density and breadth for the year. This very long, scented wine remained on my palate for minutes. From very old virused vines in a spot that’s protected from wind by walls on three sides, notes Morey. But the yield in 2007 was still a solid 45 hectoliters per hectare. Wonderfully powerful, youthful Meursault that should reward a decade of aging.
Ron brought: 2014 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers Clos Saint-Marc. VM 94+. Bright, light yellow. Pure tension on the nose, with aromas of blood orange and citrus zest dominating. Boasts outstanding fruit intensity and crunchiness, with a vibrant white peach flavor complicated by a suggestion of grilled pips. Utterly seamless wine but with outstanding inner-mouth lift from brisk, noble acidity (4.5 grams per liter, according to Pillot) without any herbacity. This adamantly primary, intensely juicy premier cru builds dramatically on its peacock’s tail of a finish. Stunning potential here.
Burrata, butternut, pepitas, pomegranate. No one told us that the antipasti already came with this, so we had two helpings — which was okay because I love burrata.
Baby beets, citrus, pistachio (2/19/18). Pretty typical.
Warm olives with orange zest. Our pasta was taking forever and so they brought us these olives. They were actually excellent, some great olives, very soft and warm and the orange zest and olive oil really brought them up.
Erick brought: 1990 Maison Leroy Maranges. 89 points. I had high hopes because it was Leroy but it was a little tight and astringent with the fruit in hiding. Not oxidized or old tasting at all. After some time it did open up a bit and became better.
Riso alla pilota with prosciutto and fagioli. The beans wrecked me later. Meanwhile it was a bit like fried rice with pork and beans. Fairly mild in flavor and the “worst” of the pastas even though it wasn’t bad.
Malagliati alla boscaiola. Not what I expected at all, as usually boscaiola has cream and peas but really great. Thick sheets of chewy pasta with a nice rich buttery sauce and incredible savory hammy chunks.
Bucatini all’amatriciana. Not totally typical in flavor, mild on the porkiness, but really bright and delicious.
Spaghetti, lobster, pomodor, pilacca (2/19/18). Nice.
Gigli, lamb sausage, rapini, lemon (2/19/18). I would have liked more sausage.
Larry brought: 2002 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Mouline. VM 90. smells downright Burgundian. Silky, sweet and mineral-driven red fruit flavors offer impressive energy and focus, with just a suggestion of tannin on the back end. I find this really elegant today.
Short rib, brasato al barolo, celery root, chestnut, gremolata. Meaty and solid.
Spinach, pinenuts, roasted garlic (2/19/18). Almost like a Chinese veggie.
French fries (2/19/18) — excellent ones too.
Chocolate caramel tart. Mint anglaise, salted caramel gelato. Yummy stuff and very attractive.
Hazelnut cream cake. Mascarpone, hazelnut gelato. This was even better. Just delicious.
Crostata, cinnamon, apple, vanilla whip (2/19/18). With the candle for my brother’s birthday.
Overall, we had a great time at Tasting Kitchen. There were a few quirks. First the bad (much overcome by the good). The kitchen was very backed up (they were mobbed) and the food took a LONG time. The bench seat I was on looked comfortable but my butt was going numb and I had to keep standing.
But now for the many plusses. The servers were incredibly nice, helpful, and attentive. Really very good service. They made up for the kitchen slowness. The place, as I mentioned, was very busy and had a great atmosphere full of attractive looking people. Nice build out too. Hostess was nice as well (not always the case at every place by any means). They were very generous/flexible on the corkage.
The food was quite good. It’s not a super extensive menu, nor is it seemingly highly innovative, but the flavors were very bright and most of the dishes excellent, and the lesser ones fine. They “secretly” have a lot of very good pasta here — particularly for it not being an Italian restaurant. Location is great on the super busy ultra-hip high rent Abbot Kinney. I’ll definitely come back.
Came back for my brother’s birthday 2/19/18. Food was just as strong. We were downstairs which was darker and louder.