Location: 453 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 651-8553
Date: October 26, 2021
Cuisine: About half Spanish
Rating: Tasty, great service, loud
This Vega Sicilia Unico dinner moved around a little bit but eventually settled on the new (for LA) Tatel in Beverly Hills.
From my cellar: NV Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée de Réserve. VM 92. The NV Brut Cuvée de Réserve Grand Cru is fabulous. A Champagne of tension and energy, the Cuvée de Réserve has real presence, not to mention tons of class. Citrus, jasmine, mint and crushed rocks are some of the many nuances that race out of the glass. In this release, the Cuvée de Réserve has a light tropical quality that is both exotic and hugely appealing. Dosage is 7 grams per liter. Disgorged: March, 2021. (Drink between 2021-2028)
1989 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. AG 95+. Saturated dark, fresh red. Exotic dried fruits complicated by minerals, cedar, cigar box and nuts on the nose. Huge, dense and solid, with great sappy redcurrant and wild strawberry sweetness buffered by powerful acids. With its huge concentration and extraordinarily chewy extract, this has fruit of steel. The wine’s explosive, extremely long finish and great thrust go beyond 99.99% of the world’s wines. (Europvin/Christopher Cannan Selections; importers include Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY and Diamond Wine Merchants, Oakland, CA)
1994 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 95+. Full ruby-red. Knockout nose combines roasted blackberry, minerals, cedar, graphite and flowers; reminded me of a very ripe vintage of Chateau Lafite. Creamy and sweet, but with penetrating, perfectly integrated acids and a structure of steel. Powerful yet wonderfully elegant wine, with flavors of crushed redcurrant, minerals, flowers, chocolate and truffle. Finishes with great length and grip. An outstanding vintage for Unico, with the sheer acid structure and flavor intensity to go on in bottle for at least another two decades. . (Europvin/Christopher Cannan Selections; importers include Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY and Diamond Wine Merchants, Oakland, CA)
Bread with tomato and garlic. This is a fairly deconstructed version of the pan con tomate. You rub the garlic on the bread. However usually they pre-chop the tomatoes for you. Personally I think the best combo is the ham ON the tomato bread.
Ham Croquette. Tomato Sugo, parsley. Solid version of the classic.
1996 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. VM 94. Deep ruby. Complex, heady bouquet of kirsch, candied plum, cured tobacco, licorice, dried rose and cedar. Pungent herbal notes build with aeration and repeat on the palate, adding complexity to the deep, ripe cherry and dark berry liqueur flavors. Remarkably elegant wine with precise cherry/berry flavors and a slow-mounting mocha quality on the long, sappy finish. There’s a very impressive interplay of fruit and tannins here. (Europvin USA, Oakland, CA)
1999 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único. AG 96. Ruby-red. Shockingly deep in color for a ten-year-old wine. Explosive aromas of cherry compote, black raspberry, blood orange, Asian spices and smoky minerals. Pure, vibrant and sweet, offering intense cherry and red berry flavors, with tangy mineral spine and an exotic smokiness. Extremely deep but energetic, with a powerful echo of minerals and singed orange on the endless finish. This is remarkably youthful but highly alluring already. (Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA)
They have a couple different types of “rice” (risotto and paella). We ordered this and two paellas.
Tatel Risotto. Semolina Orzo, parmesan cheese, truffle. Nice risotto, even if that form of rice isn’t old school Spanish.
Roasted Cornish Hen Paella. Porcini Mushrooms, thyme.
Carabineros Paella. Carabineros prawn.
A more seafood variant. Nicely cooked and good flavor.
Grilled Colorado lamb rack. Very well executed, but pretty “international.”
1989 Château Suduiraut. VM 90. The 1989 Suduiraut has always shown better than the 1990. The bouquet is quite vivacious with quince and frangipane, hints of pear and crème brûlée, certainly responding to aeration. The palate has similar weight and texture to the 1990 although, there is slightly more tension here with orange rind and marmalade imparting Barsac-like notes towards the finish. It lacks the sophistication of 21st century vintages but there is joie-de-vivre here. 89gm/L residual sugar. Tasted at a private dinner in Switzerland. (Drink between 2019-2029)
Apple Tart. Good, but grainy mild ice cream.
Tatel World Famous Cheese Cake (Basque Cheese Cake, but not burnt). Perfect creamy light texture on the cake. Ice cream mediocre. The interior was stellar actually, and on point for Basque cheese cake, but the top wasn’t really burnt.
This was a great evening. Wines ruled, of course — Unico duh!
The build out and and service at Tatel was top notch for modern high end restaurants. Additionally, given that we were a 4 person “wine group” at a trendy Beverly Hills restaurant I was surprised how nice and accommodating they were. None of that trendy place BS. Food was very high quality. I was skeptical going in as it looked pretty international, and it was in its way, but the kitchen is good and dishes were generally well executed. I’m slightly weirded out by the mix of classic Spanish dishes (again, well done) and what I think of as “boring BH staples” like Burrata Salad or Tomahawk Steaks. Half the restaurants in 1st tier cities has devolved into the Tomahawk. It’s like the goat cheese and beet salad, burrata, or hamachi with jalapeño and ponzu. So personally I would have preferred an updated (and Tatel is updated) take on roast lamb shoulder, suckling pig, etc. Or better yet LA desperately needs anything good smacking of the kind of modern Basque restaurants to be found in… well the actual Basque region. So Tatel feels like a Basque Mom who married Arnie Morton.
It should be noted that La Paella is the old school 1970s variant of this kind of place (minus any of the trendy). It’s a good place too and quite Spanish, but it’s also very dated and “old fashioned.” It’d be nice to get more modern Spanish in LA.