Posts Tagged ‘scallops’

643 North is welcome addition to Chinatown

Don't Drink This cocktail at 643 North

Don’t Drink This cocktail at 643 North

Chinatown is the new downtown.

That’s what it certainly feels like, with newcomers such as Chego, Starry Kitchen and General Lee’s making their way into the historically low-income neighborhood just north of its rapidly gentrifying big brother, downtown Los Angeles. And now comes 643 North, a restaurant and bar from Los Angeles native and owner of Michael J’s Catering, Michael Ourieff.

643 North, named for its address at 643 N. Spring St., is a new concept for Chinatown. It serves non-Asian food, for one. But unlike its neighbor across the street Spring Street Smoke House, which specializes in barbecue, 643 North offers a full menu ranging from a pickled beet salad and a lamb burger to a roasted eggplant pizza and ossobuco ravioli. And there’s a full bar with a decidedly drinkable cocktail menu.

Chef Oz Ramuco (Dar Maghreb, Caffe Opera and Bistro, The Roosevelt Hotel) helms the kitchen here, and Bar Manager Adam Acuff (Blue Palms Brew House, Far Bar) designs the cocktail program.

Some menu standouts include the mini grilled cheese sandwiches with roasted pears, white and yellow cheddar, wild arugula, honey mustard and white truffle oil, which thankfully aren’t heavy on the truffle oil. The beef sliders come perfectly cooked — which is no small feat, mind you — and are made with grass-fed beef patties, pickled red onions and white cheddar on brioche. When it comes to the mains, the seared diver scallops are buttery and come on a bed of parmesan farro and asparagus tips.

Mini grilled cheese

Mini grilled cheese

Beef sliders

Beef sliders

Scallops

Seared diver scallops

Do not skip dessert here; get the butter cake, which arrives at your table warm, topped with vanilla sugar, chantilly crème and raspberry coulis. So simple, yet so good.

Butter cake

Butter cake

As for the cocktails, first and foremost I have to applaud Acuff for having a menu dedicated to building your own martini or manhattan. This is brilliant. On the regular drink menu, try the Don’t Drink This (pictured above) made with Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon, maraschino liqueur, Dolin sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca and fire. The seasonal Go Figure, with Avion reposado, Benedictine, Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, fig thyme syrup and pinot noir, is an interesting combo, especially with the addition of the wine.

Go Figure cocktail

Go Figure cocktail

There’s also a happy hour available Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:43 p.m. (cute, huh?) with discounted bites, including the beef sliders, and $3 draught beer and $5 wine, martinis and manhattans. How can you beat a $5 manhattan?

So next time you’re in the area on your way to a Dodger game or just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown proper, pop in to 643 North. They’ll treat you right.

Note: This meal was hosted.

18

12 2013

David LeFevre is Fishing With Dynamite in Manhattan Beach

Hamachi at Fishing With Dynamite

Hamachi at Fishing With Dynamite

When I heard that Chef David LeFevre opened a seafood-centric restaurant, I was excited. Not only is LeFevre’s MB Post a winner, but his stint at Water Grill proved his mastery with fish. And while Fishing With Dynamite is a welcome addition to Manhattan Beach, just up the street from MB Post, it didn’t wow me as much as I hoped it would. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy some of the dishes, though.

The chilled shellfish platter is a stunner. We made our own with Peruvian scallops, which were served raw with grapefruit, Prince Edward Island mussels, Atlantic lobster, an oyster sampler, and a special sea urchin plate that isn’t always available. While everything was tasty, the scallops were amazing, especially with the pop of citrus.

Chilled seafood platter

Chilled seafood platter

Sea urchin

Sea urchin

Oyster list

Oyster list

Peruvian scallop

Peruvian scallop

I also really liked the hamachi (pictured above) served with ponzu, avocado, red radish, serrano chili and shiso. Bright, bold flavors — just how I like my food.

What I really wanted to love was the New England clam “chowdah,” served here with Neuske’s bacon, Weiser Family Farms potatoes and house-made oyster crackers. The flavors were good, but I wanted the soup itself to be just a bit creamier and thicker; while the milk and cream were blended beautifully, the end result didn’t produce that thin coating on my spoon that, to me, means the perfect New England clam chowder texture. But I’m not telling Chef LeFevre how to make his chowdah!

New England clam chowdah

New England clam chowdah

Chef David’s Mom’s Cape Cod Squash Rolls with rosemary butter were addictive (LeFevre’s biscuits are always good: see the cheddar buttermilk biscuits at MB Post), the seared diver scallops were cooked beautifully, and the crab cake was made with a lot of sweet meat. But overall, I wasn’t blown away. LeFevre gives a solid performance at Fishing With Dynamite, but if I had to choose, I would pick his MB Post for my meal.

Note: This meal was hosted.

24

08 2013

Hello, lover: Jean-Georges New York

Roasted Brusells sprouts at Jean-Georges

Roasted Brusells sprouts at Jean-Georges

I went to New York, and I fell in love.

In love with Jean-Georges restaurant, that is.

The eponymous New York fine dining establishment from Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten offered the most elegant and flawlessly executed meal I’ve ever had. What else would you expect from a place with three Michelin stars?

I started my meal with a plate of beautiful roasted Brussels sprouts, avocado, pistachio and mustard vinaigrette. These were some gorgeous Brussels sprouts, and they didn’t tase bad, either.

The sea scallops with caramelized cauliflower and caper-raisin emulsion were hearty yet delicate.

Sea scallops

Sea scallops

The yellowfin tuna ribbons with avocado, spicy radish and ginger marinade is the most straight-up delicious version of the tuna-and-avocado dish I’ve ever tasted.

Yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin tuna

My absolute favorite dish was the crispy confit of suckling pig served with corn “pudding” and smoked bacon marmalade. O.M.G. Perfectly cooked and prepared. There are no words, really.

Crispy confit of suckling pig

Crispy confit of suckling pig

Special thanks to my aunt and uncle for treating me to this meal!

01

12 2012

Restaurant Row’s best bang for your buck: Gonpachi Beverly Hills

Gonpachi's courtyard

Gonpachi's courtyard

Restaurant Row on La Cienega Boulevard has been long known for its large, overly expensive eateries — Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Benihana, Woo Lae Oak, The Stinking Rose. But the Row’s Gonpachi Beverly Hills, though large, is one of the best values on that strip with its incredibly fresh-tasting sushi-grade fish and satisfying hot dishes, including robata.

I was recently invited to dinner at Gonpachi to try out its new menu. I hadn’t been to the restaurant for years, and only for happy hour, so I was excited to go back. The courtyard is lush with foliage and a koi pond, and the interior is reminiscent of the film Kill Bill (which was filmed at the Tokyo location of Gonpachi). All this really sets the scene for the fine meals served here.

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