Restaurant: Laurent Quenioux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
Location: Near Pasadena
Date: November 15, 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 we repeat (with changes) for our now more or less anual Trufflefest 2018 edition — 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.
Tonight, as it’s “winter” (what passes for winter here in LA), we are back in Laurent’s lovely front room.
Big gang of 15 or so.
Tonight’s special menu, produced by Foodie Club co-chair Erick.
From my cellar: 2007 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. VM 96. Taittinger’s 2007 Comtes de Champagne will be nearly impossible to resist upon release. Soaring aromatics, mid-weight structure and soft contours give the 2007 its alluring personality. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint, chamomile and green pear add brightness and freshness throughout, with a persistent, clean finish that makes it impossible to resist a second taste. Today, the 2007 comes across as a slightly more open version of the 2004, with freshness that makes that wine so appealing, and a touch of textural richness that recalls the 2002. Although the 2007 does not have the explosive energy or verticality of the profound 2006, it will drink better earlier. The 2007 has been positively brilliant on the three occasions I have tasted it so far.
Bread with little butters, one “plain” salted and the other truffle.
Paul likes to serve his wines blind.
2010 Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne. VM 96+. Bright pale yellow. Extremely closed nose hints at gunflint and menthol. Dense and pure on entry, then as powerful as a solid in the middle, with explosive lift to the flavors of white pepper, mint and dusty stone. Expands with air to fill the mouth without giving any impression of weight. Finishes with a convincing saline tang and outstanding persistence. This has the structure of a top red Burgundy: I’d forget about it for at least eight years.
Chigoku, caviar de sologne. Radish, Fresh Yuzu, fingerling in duck fat, quail egg. This was a fabulous dish with Champagne. The caviar/oyster thing went together in a way that it doesn’t always — driven by the yuzu.
2002 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. VM 97. Taittinger’s 2002 Comtes de Champagne is a great way to kick things off. Rich, radiant and lush, with all of the exotic ripeness of the year in evidence, the 2002 Comtes delivers the goods. This bottle is perhaps a bit more forward than others have been, but it is nevertheless very fine.
Spiny Lobster, Dungeness Crab. Green apple, black olive, pinenuts pistachio vinaigrette, apple vinegar, finger lime. Another really good dish, if not quite as good as the oyster one.
2007 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. BH 95. Despite several years of bottle age, this remains backward, tight and not revealing much aromatically beyond wonderfully pure white flower, pear and spice aromas. The rich, full and strikingly powerful flavors possess superb depth of dry extract and huge length on the detailed, focused, beautifully balanced and penetrating finish that seems to be extracted directly from liquid rock. This very classy effort is a potentially great Perrières as everything necessary is here and this should age extremely well. The word Zen comes to mind.
2011 Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir. VM 92. A statuesque Burgundy, the 2011 Meursault Les Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir is all class. Nothing in particular stands out, so impeccable is the wine’s balance. The depth and intensity of the fruit is apparent, but readers will have to give the 2011 at least another year or two before the elements start to truly come together. The 2011 is impressive for its depth and stuffing.
Live Spot Prawn. Corn pancake, Vacherin cheese, walnuts, chanterelles, endives.
From my cellar: 1985 Nicolas Potel Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes. BH 91. A very fresh yet mature nose of citrus, white flower and lightly toasted nut aromas combines with round and vibrant middle weight flavors that possess a seductive and rich mouth feel, all wrapped in a sappy and mouth coating finish. This is really a lovely effort with complexity and ample finishing punch and is a wine that will continue to hold well if not improve.
Ron brought: NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé. BH 94. Medium rosé hue. A cool, restrained and highly complex nose that is not especially fruity displays a moderate yeast character along with slightly exotic aromas of mandarin orange and Asian tea, all wrapped in an enveloping array of beguiling rose petal scents. There is very good richness with a relatively firm supporting mousse that adds to the impression of richness to the superbly complex and highly textured flavors, indeed one could aptly describe this as more wine that Champagne. As such this is indeed a sumptuous Krug rosé that is difficult to resist already though it should reward extended keeping if desired. As I noted in the original 750 ml review, that while I am not always wowed by the Krug Rosé, this latest incarnation in magnum is strikingly good.
Uni. Sea Urcin Creme Brulee. This was a controversial dish. The lower custard layer was actually a creme brulee custard made from uni. I loved it, and the texture was perfect, but some people thought it was a bit sweet — it was — but this doesn’t bother me and in fact I enjoyed the sweet and briney thing.
Wild Turbot. Squid ink tuille, truffle sabayon, fennel. LQ always does a great job with turbot.
2008 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Montrachet. BH 93-96. A perfumed and simply knock-out nose features highly perfumed notes of honeysuckle, acacia blossom, sandalwood and yellow orchard fruit aromas that give way to powerful, rich and dense full-bodied flavors that possess obvious muscle and simply huge length on the overtly austere, deep and palate staining finish. This is a dazzling effort that will only add to the already immense reputation this wine enjoys but note that patience will be required.
2009 Remoissenet Père et Fils Montrachet Le Montrachet. VM 96. The 2009 Le Montrachet, from a parcel on the Chassagne side, is fabulous. Layers of exotic, tropical fruit flow effortlessly from this broad-shouldered, kaleidoscopic wine. There is plenty of freshness in the glass to support the fruit in this magical, captivating wine. I especially like the way this turns delicate, subtle and refined on the finish.
Monk Fish Cheeks. Pied de veau, ginger, water cress, ALF Tokyo turnips.
2013 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Corton-Charlemagne. BH 92-94. A shy, indeed almost mute nose only grudgingly liberates its cool aromas of green apple, white fruit, spiced pear and wet stone. The intensely saline and stony big-bodied flavors are supported by a firm spine of citrus-inflected acidity that shapes the powerful finish that delivers outstanding complexity and persistence. I very much like the balance and this will need plenty of time to realize its full, and considerable, potential.
2004 Morey-Blanc Corton-Charlemagne. BH 90-93. A reserved, indeed backward spicy green apple and white pear nose complements delineated but very rich flavors that display moderate wood on the big and weighty if not necessarily super dense finish that packs a serious punch and intensity. The length here is really impressive and the balance is such that this should age for 15 to possibly 20 years.
Petit gris Snails. ALF “Petit Gris.” Delicata Squash, parsley, garlic, tapioca, pomme paille. This was “interesting.” Some of the other stuff swamped the snails out.
1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques. VM 92. Good red-ruby. Altogether more vibrant, sexy nose combines cherry, plum, smoke, coffee, game and Cuban tobacco. Fleshy, round and elegant; a distinct step up in extract and volume. Really compelling sweetness of fruit. Very suave and very long on the finish, which features extremely fine tannins. A superb showing today.
Foie Gras lentil ragu. Sprouted lentils, pumpernickel croutons, quince. An amazing slab of foie.
1998 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Romanée St. Vivant. BH 94. Deep ruby. This is extremely floral with dried rose petal and violet notes that highlight the Oriental spice character of the nose that serves as a dramatic introduction to the sappy, delicious, extraordinarily complex and deep middle weight flavors that culminate in huge length. This is stylish, sexy and classy with superb finishing power and impeccable balance. A terrific effort and a consistent one as I have had no disappointing bottles.
2006 Domaine Anne Gros Richebourg. VM 94. Deep red, a bit less saturated than the Clos Vougeot. Sappy dark fruits, flowers and spices on the nose, complemented by an exotic suggestion of white peach. Suave and supple, seemingly more open-knit and easier to taste today than the Clos Vougeot, with exotic floral lift adding to its early appeal. As sappy as this is, it’s also quite sweet and pliant today. Broader than its stablemate but is it as fine?
Wood Pigeon. Date cumin puree, salsify, crosnes, parsnip, last of the season figs.
2005 Domaine Pierre Gelin Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. BH 93. Here the breed of a great grand cru shows as the nose is sheer class with an airy array of spice and layered aromas of red and blue fruit trimmed in a very gentle touch of oak. The supple, stylish and detailed flavors offer good depth and fine length, all supported by dense but fine tannins and really lovely depth. In a word, terrific.
2005 Bouchard Père et Fils Chambertin. VM 91-94. (this is the only Bouchard Gevrey grand cru from estate fruit?; 100% vendange entier Full ruby-red. Wild, complex aromas of red cherry liqueur, smoked meat, licorice and shoe polish, with a cool veggie nuance. Sweet and stylish but still quite reserved, even cool, with intriguing suggestions of gibiers and toasty oak. Still quite clenched on the back, finishing with building tannins. Classic austere Chambertin.
Lamb neck. Tarbais beans, Toulouse sausage, “Cassoulet Style”, duck confit. This was amazing!
1971 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Monfalletto.
Larry and a rare Trish sighting.
Scottish Pheasant. Confit leg stuffed cabbage, sautéed breast, Bourguignon, lardons.
1999 Soldera (Az. Agr. Case Basse) Brunello di Montalcino. VM 93. Today, the 1999 Brunello di Montalcino is simply gorgeous. Frankly, I am amazed (and delighted) at how it has come together. Sweet, floral and perfumed, the 1999 remains a relatively mid-weight wine by Soldera standards, but that just adds to immediacy and appeal. Stylistically, the 1999 is a delicate wine, but it has turned out far better than I ever thought it would.
1989 Château Montrose. JG 94. The 1989 Montrose may not be quite as deep as the 1990, but it is a purer wine of precise definition and classic proportions. The superb nose offers up a refined mélange of cassis, dark berries, cigar ash, gravelly soil tones, espresso, fresh herbs and cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and shows off excellent mid-palate depth, with firm tannins, tangy acids and outstanding focus and grip on the very young, pristine and old school finish. Some may prefer the more overtly powerful style of the 1990 Montrose, but for me, though the two vintages are qualitatively equivalent, I prefer the superior transparency of the 1989.
From my cellar: 1989 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra. VM 97. One of Domenico Clerico’s early masterpieces, 1989 Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra opens with a gorgeous, captivating bouquet of soy sauce, smoke, tobacco and cedar. The wine possesses sumptuous richness and beguiling inner perfume in an intensely powerful, mineral-driven style that coasts the palate in stunning style. I am not sure the tannins will fully soften here, but readers lucky enough to own this wine are in for a thrilling ride. This is stunning juice!
1989 Dante Rivetti Barbaresco Emprimer N.11.12.1 Cru Katia.
Flannery Beef Wagyu Rib Eye Cap. Confit onion jam, sweet potato mouseline, bourbon, porcini, colman mustard. Awesome meat!
We used an entire box!
2003 Château Rieussec. VM 92-95. Medium yellow-gold. Reticent but pure aromas of fruit salad, spices and vanilla, lifted by floral and mineral nuances. Wonderfully honeyed, fat fruit flavors are complemented by cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The sexy oak treatment gives lift to the wine. A bit youthfully aggressive but very long on the back end, showing vanillin oak and a bit of warmth. But this one offers superb potential.
Pinku no Yuzu Sorbetto – Yuzu & Meyer Lemon Sorbetto with a touch of blood orange! — the ultimate adult pink lemonade flavor — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #SummerTime #yuzu #MeyerLemon #lemon #lemonade #BloodOrange
Pina Colada Sorbetto — just like the cocktail with Thai coconut milk, pineapple, a touch of lime and dark rum — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #PinaColada #CocktailIceCream #pineapple #coconut #lime #rum
The full wine lineup (+ truffles) in horrible iphone pano.
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 the food was absolutely over the top both in quantity and quality. Bravo Laurent.
The atmosphere was great. A nice private room — truly private and actually quiet (except for us). LQ’s team provided great service (we mostly did the wine service but we are used to that). Walker was busy acting as sommelier — thanks Walker!. Wines were great, as were our hangovers. I prefer these full arrangement of wines where we have a broad range of types across the meal.