Restaurant: Laurent Quenioux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Location: Near Pasadena
Date: April 25, 2018
Cuisine: Modern French
Six and a half years ago Foodie Club co-organizer Erick and I put together one of our more legendary dinners, the Bistro LQ Trufflumpagus. Ever since then we periodically trek out to visit our friend Chef Laurent for some kind of extravaganza — and tonight it’s his legendary seafood tower — plus tons of other goodies.
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.
These days Laurent mostly hosts popups in his own backyard! We took the whole evening for some epic craziness. Some of my friends visiting from the Netherlands are pictured above.
From my cellar: 2015 Jacques Perritaz Cidrerie du Vulcain Apple Transparente.
Erick designed our special menu.
Erick brought: 1996 de Venoge Champagne Brut Louis XV. 91 points. A bit over the hill.
Bread with flavored Normandy butters.
From my cellar (to pair with Foie): 1990 Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Betsek. RJ 93. From 500 ml – light medium orange brown color with dark orange lights; very aromatic, mature, orange marmalade, baked apricot, light mushroom, light tobacco, smoky orange syrup nose; mature, tasty, orange marmalade, baked apricot, light mushroom, light tobacco, smoky orange syrup, blood orange, orange honey palate with medium-plus acidity; very long finish 93+ points
Sautéed Foie Gras. Mangoes, ginger, Green bar distillery Vodka jus. An incredible (and huge) chunk of the decadent liver.
From my cellar: NV Drappier Champagne Rosé Brut Nature Dosage Zero. BH 90. The color is paler than that of the regular brut rosé. A pretty and slightly more elegant nose features a similar aromatic profile but with more evident yeast character. There is fine intensity to the delicious and vibrant flavors that are supported by a firm and definitely finer mousse, all wrapped in a bone dry and youthfully austere finish where a hint of bitter cherry pit appears. This won’t be for everyone as the dryness is pronounced; I happen to like it but it would be fair to say that this is not a charmer. With that said, a few years of bottle age should serve to round off the austerity and add a bit of depth as well.
From my cellar: 2012 Prager Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Achleiten. AG 90. The restrained nose slowly reveals apple, orange zest, white pepper and wet slate. A taut spine gives lift to the rich texture, but the melon fruit and dried spice flavors are still tightly sealed. Well-balanced and showing noteworthy depth and structure, this veltliner is only just beginning to show its refreshing drinkability.
Toast with Dungeness Crab Rouille and avocado. Super crab salad avocado toast!
Haddock Branade. I love smoked haddock.
Main Lobster brioche. Like a lobster roll in a (big) bite.
From my cellar: 2012 Prager Riesling Federspiel Steinriegl. 95 points.
Spot prawns. Would you believe that everything you just say was all part of the FIRST (of 9!) courses? These were sort of like the sweet shrimp sushi with fried head — but all on one plate. Delicious.
From my cellar: 2014 Királyudvar Furmint Tokaji Sec. 90 points. Dried apple, and then some fruit, and kinda delicious.
Someone else brought this funny cloudy California white.
Puff pastry with wild mushroom, dill, and seafood mixto. Awesome! Like a mini lobster pot pie.
Clam nage with sorrel. Amazing clammy broth.
Soft shell crab (fried of course).
Grilled Monterey Bay Squid with green garlic. This dish I didn’t love as it with very briny.
Manilla Clams with Chorizo and Epazote. Amazing clam and sausage. Laurent’s clams are great.
1990 Domaine Fabien Coche Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. 93 points. Coche from another mother.
From my cellar: 1985 Nicolas Potel Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes. 88 points. Not the best of my bottles from this batch. This one not dead yet but it had lost most of that zippiness. All fatness, honeycomb and butterscotch. For those who like really mature white burg this may still be ok but if you are sensitive to oxidation then it really is time to drink up unless you lucked out with some very pristine bottles.
Now comes the main event, the incomparable seafood tower
But first the sauces: mustard, aioli, horseradish, spicy mayo, mignonette.
The top level with crabs, lobster, clams, prawns, crayfish and more.
And we continue down to the bottle level with abalone, clams, oysters, winkles, and more.
And we had one for two people!
There was fresh uni too. And at this point, my flash batteries went out (eek) and I stupidly had no backups in my bag, so the photos are much higher ISO.This is how I left MY tower.
This is how everyone else left theirs. Wimps!
From my cellar: 2009 Chapelle St. Theodoric Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Sablons. AG 91. Deep ruby. Redcurrant and cherry scents are complemented by dried rose and garrigue A juicy, red-fruited midweight, accented by a slightly tart edge to its tangy cherry and floral pastille flavors. The brisk finish offers good clarity and cut, with silky tannins arriving late.
Apricot Lane Farms Spring Lamb 3 Ways. Braised lamb neck spring roll, lamb “noisette”, roasted lamb shoulder, preserved lemon emulsion, ras el hanout scented cordycep, dates puree with cumin. The spring roll was the best part.
Braised Wagyu Miyazake Short Rib. Bourguignon Style. Pasta Handkerchief, confit cipollini onions & green garlic, black chanterelles.
I think Larry brought the Penfolds Pinot Noir Bin 23.
Mini Cassoulet. Tarbais Beans slow cooked for 7 hours, Toulouse Sausage, garlic sausage, duck leg confit, smoked pork belly bacon style, confit duck gizzard. This dish is also a stunner. One of Laurent’s specialties and well worth it for the sausage alone!
Trio of Sweet Milk Gelato (made by me) plated by Laurent. Flavors are: Pineapple Rosemary Sorbetto, Lavender Blueberry Gelato, and Brillat-Savarin Gelato with Sicilian Candied Orange
Chocolate Cremeux. White chocolate coconut cheese cake, coconut ice cream, matcha meringue, chocolat chips. Laurent is amazing with these kind of desserts — basically a chocolate coconut cheesecake, but deconstructed into many textures.
On the right is Chef Laurent and behind him his busy crew.
This was another seriously epic night. We didn’t go too crazy with the wines since there were a lot of non wine people — there were plenty bottles, but more “normal” wines for us — but the food was absolutely over the top both in quantity and quality. Bravo Laurent.