Restaurant: Kass Restaurant – Wine & Bar [1, 2]
Location: 320 South La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 413-2299
Date: June 19, 2019
Cuisine: California French
Years ago I enjoyed Chef Christophe Emé’s Ortolan and have had attended private dinners he’s prepared.
So it was exciting that he opened a new place on La Brea — supposedly a bit more casual this time (as is in vogue).
I think the sign was completed in 2018, I believe the restaurant itself opened in 2019 :-).
From my cellar: 2006 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon. VM 94+. The 2006 Rosé Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon is powerful, intense and also classically austere in its make up. Crushed flowers, mint, red berries and cranberries are all finely sketched. The 2006 finishes with striking mineral-driven precision, and while it doesn’t have the opulence or exuberance of the 2002, it is still a very pretty and appealing Champagne. The Elisabeth Salmon is 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, with about 8% still Pinot Noir. Dosage is 6 grams per liter.
Erick and I, then Ron, sat outside for a bit drinking our Champagne while we waited for the full crew to assemble.
This is the inside after dinner when we outlasted everyone. Clean and cosy.
The kitchen was small and neat and you can see Chef Christophe Emé in the center, carefully managing every detail.
Grilled Sardines with Eggplant Caviar. Delicious and perfectly cooked sardines. The eggplant beneath had a Lebanese sort of flavor. Delicious!
The next dish makes an arrival.
Egg Caviar. The classic, with scrambled eggs and Kaluga caviar.
Close up. This was a perfect pairing with the 2002 Krug!
Ron brought: 2012 Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeot 1er Cru Clos Blanc de Vougeot. VM 92. Pears, white flowers and quince meld together in the 2012 Vougeot Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot. This is another rich, inviting white with lovely resonance and an inviting, soft personality beautifully suited to near-term drinking. The oak still needs to become a bit more fused with the wine, but there is a lot to look forward to.
Tuna Sashimi. Arima Sansho Infusion. Crispy Rice. The textural play here was perfect, with the soft tuna and crunchy rice. But the flavors were amazing. There was some olive oil, giving it an Adriatic Italian vibe, and a perfect zing from the Sansho.
From my cellar: 1993 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. 93 points. This has aged well, and I think the second time I have encountered the wine in the last four years, as Howard Cooper also brought it to another holiday dinner a couple of years ago, if I recall correctly. It may not have as much precision as the Ramonet, tasted just before, but I really like how it combines grace and “fat” at the same time. Indeed, the palate is more broad than long, but always pleasing. I am not sure how much longer anyone should hold on to this. It seems fine now and likely just on its plateau.
Housemade Tagliatelle. Lobster Bolognese. Caviar. Another amazing dish. Petite, but the pasta was cooked perfectly and paired fabulously with the rice lobster. Very umami.
Erick brought: 2002 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. JG 100. It is hard to believe that two and a half years have now passed since Champagne Krug unveiled its long-awaited 2002 Vintage Brut. I do not know if there have been different disgorgements of this bottling, but this one is the same as the last bottle that swept me off of my feet back in the spring of last year, having been disgorged in the autumn of 2015. The wine is a blend of forty percent pinot noir, thirty-nine percent chardonnay and twenty-one percent pinot meunier in 2002 and is already one of the legendary vintages of Krug ever produced. The bouquet is deep, pure, ripe and vibrant, wafting from the glass in a marvelous blend of pear, apple, almond, a stunningly beautiful base of soil tones, subtle spice shading, patissière, a touch of citrus blossoms and that signature Krug smokiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine rock solid, mineral-driven and shows off stellar purity, with its full-bodied format seamlessly supported by great structure and grip. The mousse is impeccable, the complexity still youthful and growing with each visit and the finish, long, refined and absolutely perfect. This will last almost forever and I suspect at age fifty-seven, I will never drink it at its absolute zenith of evolutionary perfection. But, I admit very much enjoying my occasional visits as the wine is in climbing mode to that future peak!
Grilled Octopus. Basil mashed potatoes, red pepper coulis. A very nice and tender leg of octo.
Seared Maine Scallop. English peas, salmon roe, beurre blanc sauce. Awesome. Totally brought together by the peas in butter and elevated with the briny bits from the roe.
Ron brought: 1998 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape. VM 92. Good medium red. Aromas of red fruit syrup, cola, milk chocolate, humus, graphite and prune. Sweet, lush and rich, with the fruit syrup flavor showing a distinctly roasted quality. Grew fresher and juicier with a bit of aeration and held its shape nicely, but eventually the pruney element became more pronounced. With little in the way of primary fruit remaining, this doesn’t really come alive, in spite of its complexity.
Grilled quail breast. Meaty, almost livery like. Delicious.
Larry brought: 2001 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage. VM 94+. Good bright medium ruby. Subtly complex, granitic nose melds cassis, blueberry, smoky gunflint, pepper, tar, bitter chocolate, roast coffee, leather, game and animal fur. Wonderfully juicy but currently rather folded in on itself. But this has brilliant acidity, precision and penetration on the palate. Almost painfully intense and wonderfully long and gripping on the back. Very firm and structured but not at all dry. This will need a good decade of additional cellaring.
Braised Lamb Shank. Jus. Gnocchi. Super rich and meaty. Absolutely delicious. Needed bread. haha.
Cheese and raison bread. The left one was barely cheese, pretty much fromage blanc. All lovely.
Cherry tart. Perfectly in season and a fabulous cherry flavor.
Poached Rhubarb. Strawberry sorbet. Very nice light dessert. I don’t even normally like rhubarb. Sorbet has that paco jet thing where the structure starts to melt instantly (a gelato maker’s complaint). Tasted great though.
Tarte au Citron. Orange Granite. Crunchy, meets cold, this had amazing textures and bright orange flavors.
Tarte aux Pommes. Vanilla Ice cream. A perfect classic Tarte Tartin. Ice cream again was delicious but instantly starting to lose structure. It’s a pacojet thing, because it wasn’t formulated perse but is just frozen and whipped.
But this is the real thing, even if a bit ugly in this container. My home-made gelato:
Arancia Crema Fiorentina Zabaione — Marsala Orange Vanilla Zabaione base with Orange Variegate — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Very close to the oldest gelato flavor!! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #orange #Zabaione #CremaFiorentina
Salted Caramel Chocolate — House-made salted caramel forms the core of this base which then is layered with house-made Valrhona dark chocolate ganache and Valrhona milk chocolate chips — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — my best salted caramel yet — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #caramel #chocolate #Valrhona #ganache
We spent at least 30 minutes talking with Chef Christophe Emé after dinner.
Overall, this was an amazing meal. Our wines were nice, and service was really spot on, but it’s the cooking that really showed everything else up. Every dish was amazing. 8 out of 8 for the savory and 4 out of 4 for the dessert. Even the cheese course was really nice. Bravo!