Location: 1315 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Date: September 28, 2017
Rating: Tasty, but small portions and attitude
Dialogue is a new restaurant in the old Naughty Dog building on the 3rd St Promenade. It’s helmed by Dave Beran, formerly of Next and Alinea! It’s very small and solid only by ticket.
It’s on the second floor behind a hidden door in what I suspect is the hood space for the Wolfgang Puck Express (which I used to eat at 10 times a week in the NDI days).
The space is attractive, modern, and tiny. Tables are very close to each other. There is a small bar and a few tables, maybe 20 seats total.
Here is chef Dave Beran (in the middle). There is just a single tasting menu, no choice. Options of wine pairings and a $75 a bottle (gulp) corkage.
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet. VM 96. Leflaive’s 2001 Bâtard-Montrachet (magnum) was intensely sweet, layered and pure. It was pure magic.
agavin: fabulous wine in perfect shape.
Springtime for Sean. Well, that’s all the description they gave me. A “salad” with caviar and some nutty foie paste? It was pretty good but kinda deconstructed in texture.
NOTE: By the way, NO FLASH allowed here. I hate that because my pictures really suffer, but I can understand not wanting the tiny dining room flashing all evening.
Roasted banana tea, browned butter, peanut. An interesting shot.
Blackberry thermidor, short rib, bone marrow. Very small, interesting textures.
Fennel, white peach, and rice vinegar. Microscopic. I don’t think I loved this dish. Gooey sauce was good though.
Larry brought: 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.
agavin: our bottle was advanced. Drinkable, but pretty deep golden with sherry notes.
Dragonfruit, scented with roses from early spring. This 0.75″ cube of dragonfruit was ridiculous and didn’t even have much flavor.
King crab, popcorn, orchid, earl grey tea. This was interesting. It really tasted of popcorn (not so much of crab) and had that interesting blend of dehydrated crumble and gooey texture. Pretty good actually.
Burnt lettuce that thinks it’s a peanut. No idea where that description fits in. Can’t even remember what it was.
96 hour koji plum, fresh yuba, thai basil. One of my favorite dishes. Very interesting flavors, very Thai in tone, but not in texture. The yuba is a soy milk skim I used to call “skum in a bucket” but I have always liked it. A very soft tofu skin.
Erick brought: 1995 Domaine A.-F. Gros Richebourg. VM 94. Deep red-ruby. Reticent but very ripe aromas of red and black fruits, licorice, truffle and smoke. Fat, suave and multilayered; less immediately sweet than the huge Clos Vougeot but more refined. A complete wine, with an uncanny harmony of components. Finishes with extremely fine tannins that coat the entire mouth. Totally different in shape from the Clos Vougeot: some tasters may prefer that wine for its sheer size and sweetness, but this is superb Richebourg.
agavin: very nice!
Squab, thai long peppercorn creme fraiche, begonia.
Bitter chocolate, cherry, preserved sakura. I have a friend named Sakura (I think it’s a kind of flower).
The sobering of rhubarb. This was actually a gold colored rhubarb fruit rollup. Tasted like sour cherry fruit rollup.
Choy sum, strawberry nahm prik, cashew. Like a mini salad.
Pork belly, nasturtium, strawberry sambal. I liked this dish. Interesting textures.
These are 2 of the wine tasting wines. I didn’t like them, too many herbal notes. Many of the tasting wines are blended with stuff like fruit juice and vinegar too. I can see how they might pair, but they aren’t really that enjoyable even to a wine geek (at least from these 2).
Black cod, yuzu kosho-beurre blanc, sea grape. Not bad but tiny fish dish.
Anthony or Larry brought: 1994 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. RP 96-98. The great glories of this house are its Cote Roties, of which there are now five separate offerings. The single-vineyard 1994s were singing loudly when I saw them in July. All of them scored significantly higher than they did during the two previous years, which is not unusual as Guigal’s upbringing (elevage) of the wines results in better examples in the bottle than in cask. All three wines flirt with a perfect score. At this tasting, they reminded me of Guigal’s 1982s – opulent, sumptuously-textured, forward, rich, precocious, flattering wines that will drink well throughout their lives. The exotic 1994 Cote Rotie La Turque exhibits a dense purple color, and a fabulously-scented nose of licorice, Asian spices, truffles, minerals, and gobs of black fruits. Full-bodied, with great richness, a multi-layered personality, and an exotic, overripe character, this is a sensational, chocolatey, rich wine with more tannin than La Mouline.
Anthony or Larry brought: 1995 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. RP 100. One of the treats when tasting through the profound Côte Rôties made by Marcel Guigal was the opportunity to taste all of the bottled 1995’s. Reviewed in previous issues, they are even better from bottle than they were during their upbringing (a characteristic of many Guigal wines). The 1995 Côte Rôtie la Turque is the stuff of legends and is every bit as compelling as readers might expect. This single vineyard wine will have at least 2 decades of longevity.
Everything is burnt. Not my favorite either. Tiny too.
The next dish came on a weird candle holder multi-tier “plate.”
French onion soup, rosemary aroma. Pretty good, did basically taste like a French Onion Soup tako-yaki.
Sebastian brought: 2006 Colgin IX Estate. VM 95. Bright ruby-red. Exhilarating nose of wild berries, wild sage, bay laurel and flowers. Wonderfully dense and sweet, but with an extraordinary light touch to the black fruit, floral and spice flavors. A terrific core of ripe acidity gives the wine outstanding inner-mouth lift and extends the finish, which builds inexorably. The tannins are firm but fine-grained. The best vintage to date for the winery’s estate vineyard overlooking Lake Hennessey, which was planted in 2000. In fact, this is extraordinary for five-year-old vines.
Memories of a tomato salad. Yeah. Texture of jellyfish.
Whipped Persimmon, lemon shortbread, hibiscus sugar. Interesting.
Ages of seedling farms apples, miso caramel. This was a nice dish.
A carrot pulled from the snow. It wasn’t cold. A candied something. Not that memorable.
Overall, Dialogue was “interesting.” Let me break it down.
Setting: Nice enough. A little cramped, but big kudos for being so close to my house and brave for opening a tasting menu restaurant on the 3rd st Promenade!
Food: Taste was all over the place from just “hmmm” to quite good. Per dish portion size was too small. They don’t need to be huge, but these were so small they left little memory of the taste. Textures were very interesting but sometimes the dishes felt a bit discombobulated. Overall food quantity was WAY too small. We had to go to second dinner (you shall see).
Service: Chef himself was nice. The Somm had quite an attitude. They rushed us out. There are 2 seatings, which I can understand from a business perspective, but they pretty much threw us out at the end even though we were still working on our wines. That just isn’t fine dining.
Wine Policy / Service: Limited wine list. Expensive ($175) weird pairings. $75 a bottle corkage. The corkage is a little high but at least they don’t have per table limits — a retarded policy I have lambasted before. This would all be okay if the Somm hadn’t made us feel like he was doing us a favor by allowing corkage. He was very stingy with glasses, complaining that they were going to run out even though we could see them on the shelf. If it’s really a problem they need more stems. We only had 2 each when he was complaining and $75 X 6 bottles really deserves more than 2 stems.
If they change their menu frequently I’ll try it one more time, but I think right now it would be best for couple or something. It really isn’t setup very well for wine dinners.
So being hungry we walked down to Capo!
The room was packed even at 9 something.
Unlike the Dialogue Somm this one was very friendly and the list is huge. I asked the Somm for a reasonable and older village wine and got this nice bottle.
2000 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod / Barthod-Noëllat Chambolle-Musigny. BH 88. Beautifully pure Chambolle fruit with good harmony. This too is quite supple and not especially complex but it is extremely elegant and fine. Essence of pinot character. Give this 3 to 4 years in the cellar and drink it over the next 3 to 4.
Seb got sea bass because he was being “good” — or maybe because sea bass sounds like Sebastian :-).
Buccatini with lamb ragu. My favorite!