Location: 1401 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 394-5669
Date: May 8, 2019
Cuisine: American Seafood
Rating: Solid coastal seafooder
Tonight’s outing to Water Grill Santa Monica is for Dirty Dozen, the sub group of the Hedonists that does periodic themed blind wine dinners.
Tonight’s theme was relatively young White Burgundy (2002-2017).
The Water Grill was chosen probably because they don’t charge for corkage (Dirty Dozen is cheap about this). It is VERY nicely located (close to my house). The ocean sunset throws some awesome color on the facade.
The menu is classic California seafooder. It’s a bit over priced, a touch “boring”, and a tad challenging to arrange into small plates. But kitchen execution is fairly solid.
Flight 0 – Champagne:
2010 David Leclapart Champagne Premier Cru L’Artiste Blanc de Blancs Pas Dosé Trépail. 91 points. The nose started a bit difficult, I guess because of the glas. Very intensive but not very positive. One hour later typical notes of peach, baken pineapple. Good acidity structure with fine bubbles, refreshing, precise. Good wine foor food because of the power and concentration.
NV Vilmart & Cie Champagne Premier Cru Cuvée Rubis. VM 93. The NV Cuvée Rubis, a blend of 2014 and 2013, is unusually strict and severe. Those are not bad qualities at all, but this edition is especially focused and pulsing with energy. The cranberry, white flowers, grapefruit and white pepper notes are finely cut. In many years, I find the Cuvée Rubis to be airy and even a touch diffuse, but in this release, the wine is finely etched and sculpted, not to mention a huge overachiever. I loved it. The Rubis is 90% Pinot Noir (of which about 15% is still red wine) and 10% Chardonnay. Disgorged November 2016. Dosage is 9 grams per liter.
Hot bread and butter.
Our seafood tower accompanies the first flight. A trio of different oysters.
Giant shrimp and crab “nuggets”. On top is some uni — way too little of this. Both the shrimp and crab were quite good for what they are. Lobster was left off for cost saving reasons. Truthfully, you do need to get a lot of it, which adds up.
Various sauces for the raw bar.
2011 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne Quintessence. VM 93-96. Distinctly cooler on the nose than the “regular” Corton-Charlemagne: lime, crushed rock and white flowers, with a hint of the chicken broth quality shown by the classic bottling. Tighter in texture and higher-pitched in the mouth, with the crushed stone minerality currently dominating the lime and floral flavors; imploded today yet utterly vibrant. The pure, saline finish builds and builds. This should be long-lived.
2005 Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne. VM 98+. Wonderfully ripe, deep aromas of lime, minerals and crushed stone. An incredible mouthful of stones and minerals, with uncanny intensity, juiciness and lift. At this point in my marathon tasting with Boillot, my handwriting was degenerating and I was using exclamation marks rather than adjectives. Flat-out great white Burgundy. Incidentally, Boillot changed his supplier of Corton-Charlemagne as of this vintage; he now works with vines in Aloxe-Corton that face full south.
2004 Morey-Blanc Corton-Charlemagne. VM 91+. High-toned aromas of raw pineapple and menthol. Then tightly wound and imploded in the mouth, with pure, juicy flavors of lemon peel and crushed stone. Very solidly built but not hard on the back. Not yet longer than the Genevrieres, but this one really needs to be buried in the cellar.
A trio of crudos:
Farmed New Zealand King Salmon. fig jam, sour cream
Wild Eastern Sea Scallop. togarashi rub, Japanese mustard aioli, pickled vegetable, golden raisins
Wild Pacific Bigeye Tuna. fennel orange purée, diced oranges, fennel pollen
2009 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. VM 96. The 2009 Chablis Les Clos is inward, cool and impeccably precise. It presents a chiseled, sculpted expression of fruit, then blossoms on the mid-palate and finish as the voice of the year comes through. The 2009 is a relatively open, radiant Les Clos that should offer rewarding drinking fairly early for this cuvée. It is drop-dead gorgeous from start to finish.
2008 Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Blanc. VM 93. Healthy bright yellow. A sexy note of reduction to the highly complex aromas of white peach, pear, minerals, mint, hazelnut and toast. At once silky and vibrant; a wonderfully concentrated midweight with terrific balance and thrust and a winning combination of fresh white fruits and minerals complicated by subtle salinity from start to finish. The aftertaste delivers lovely sappy, building length and a weightless impression but no hardness. The highest in acidity of all the vintages in this tasting–and right up my alley. This is a big success for its vintage and is evolving slowly.
2014 Joseph Drouhin Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. VM 92+. Pale, bright yellow. Tight, bright aromas of lemon-lime, grapefruit pith and crushed stone. Pliant on entry, then adamantly minerally and firm in the middle palate and dominated by its structure. But this very intense, fine-grained wine really resounds on the finish. Very closed today but has the balance and backbone to age gracefully.
Uni Toast. Toasted brioche. a bit dry, not enough uni!
Wild Spanish Octopus. Charcoal grilled with tomato, feta and nicoise olives. Pretty good.
Bitter Greens. salt cured anchovies and garlic vinaigrette
2015 Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Ruchottes. BH 91. This was strongly reduced, indeed to the point that it was unpleasant and difficult to like, both on the nose and on the palate. On the plus side there is good density to the caressing yet powerful medium-bodied flavors that brim with dry extract that imparts a sappy texture to the slightly warm and mildly bitter finish. I gave this an extended aeration and it helped but like the Morgeot, it’s not completely clear that this is going to grow out of what could generously be described as youthfully awkward. To be sure, there is excellent underlying material and given the excellent track record of this wine, I am inclined to offer the benefit of the doubt. But that’s not a guarantee that this will eventually transform from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan.
2012 Paul Pernot et ses Fils Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. VM 91-94. Pale yellow-green. Vibrant, precise aromas of lime leaf, thyme and mint. Then rich and pliant on the palate, with lovely texture and restrained sweetness to the flavors of ripe peach, noble herbs, smoky oak and spices. Wonderfully harmonious, classy wine with lovely floral and herbal lift to its persistent white fruit flavors.
From my cellar: 2007 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Chevalier-Montrachet. VM 94+. Bright medium yellow. Very ripe, expressive nose offers yellow peach and white flowers. Opulent, shapely and very ripe, in a distinctly sweeter style than the Batard. Gives an impression of lower acidity too, but there’s plenty of acid here. I suspect this one will shut down in bottle. Girardin, who bottled most of his crus in April and May of this year, noted that the 2007s really only started to express themselves in February, and that many of his fellow producers bottled this vintage too early.
Wild Channel Islands Black Cod Kabayaki (Sablefish). soba noodles, green onions, spiced fish broth
Wild Ross Sea Chilean Sea Bass. pan sautéed with herbed ricotta gnudi and brown butter
Dover sole with lemon butter.
Santa Barbara Spot Prawns.
2010 Mongeard-Mugneret Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Orveaux. BH 89-92. The composition of the nose is similar to that of the Vosne villages though here it’s a bit more elegant and slightly fresher as well. There is good mid-palate fat and a touch of minerality that adds interest to the solidly precise and vibrant medium-bodied flavors that terminate in a dusty and naturally sweet finish. I like the balance and interestingly the sweetness is balanced off by just a touch of austerity.
Prime Split-Bone Ribeye. 20 ounce
Flight 4 – Dessert:
1988 Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes. VM 89. Reticent aromas of almond, petrol and brown spices opened to show a honeyed richness and good botrytis character. Very rich, fat and honeyed in the mouth; showed a grapefruity freshness with aeration. Still, this expansive wine seems rather low in acidity. Finishes quite suave, and a bit less sweet than the middle palate would suggest. This was the turnaround vintage, under the management of Jean-Pierre Jausserand.
Cheese plate. Pretty good.
Chocolate Orange Pistachio Gelato — my classic 63% Valrhona chocolate base but with orange infused milk, and laced with house-made Bronte Pistachio Valrhona Gananche — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Just say it again: Bronte Pistachio Valrhona Ganache — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #pistachio #orange #chocolate
Reimagining an old flavor Cocoa Samoa Gelato — Coconut dairy base, new super delicious formulation, house-made caramel and Valrhona chocolate ganache, with Girl Scout Samoas — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Crazy Choco Caramel Nostalgic Goodness! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #coconut #caramel #samoas #girlscoutcookies
Moscow Mule Sorbetto — new highly technical sorbetto made with lime, cucumber, ginger beer, and Stoli Vodka — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — yeah, there is actually a lot of vodka in here — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #MoscowMule #lime #cucumber #GingerBeer #Stoli #vodka
Overall, a fun evening. Food was tasty and fresh. It’s not the most exciting or novel, and some dishes are just okay. I don’t love trying to make a tasting menu out of this menu. It doesn’t really have share plates and the entrees are hard to split (we didn’t). But the restaurant did a good job by us, and the private room is awesome.
Wines were quite nice tonight by D&D standards. Whites were showing better than they usually do in this group.