Posts Tagged ‘uni’

Get ready for Barberia restaurant

Expanding from the Barbershop Ristorante pop-up into a permanent space in downtown Los Angeles named Barberia restaurant, Chef Walter el Nagar (Il Grano, La Botte) has been hosting a run of tasting menu evenings to preview what is in store for the new restaurant. As the location on Hope Street downtown nears completion, these tastings are being hosted in Brakeman Brewery, a gallery space off of Jefferson Boulevard along the Metro Expo Line.

Barberia preview at Brakeman Brewery

Barberia preview at Brakeman Brewery

With a wonderful sound system, cozy bar and golden sunsets to die for, we recently dined on the outdoor patio area at dusk.

After being greeted by a bar inside, a carefully prepared meal was our treat outside. First up to say hello was duck tartare with shaved foie gras and anchovy on sailor bread. The laws in California don’t prevent consumption of foie gras, but the ban on the sale of foie did make this dish a pleasant surprise for many at the table. The theme of pairing these items together is appreciated, but let’s be real: you’re excited about the foie.

Duck tartare with foie gras

Duck tartare with foie gras

In a nod to the sea and barbershop, up next was an uni sponge cake in tomato broth presented in a sea urchin bowl atop a stone with a barbershop pole etching. The taste was subtle, as most of the dishes in the evening would be, and was a refreshing follow-up to the tartare on a warm evening.

Uni sponge cake

Uni sponge cake

The prawns aguachile was quite interesting. It was like a prawn enchilada in green sauce but wrapped in avocado slices instead of tortillas. I would probably prefer this as a snack rather than a dinner course, but I definitely enjoyed it. As always, avocados remind you that you’re in California.

Prawns aguachile

Prawns aguachile

The linguine alle vongole was my favorite dish of the evening. Using wheat germ pasta cooked in clam juice and fresh clams, there’s a kick at the end of each bite thanks to the chili in the spicy sauce that the pasta sat on rather than being coated in it. I could have had three more helpings of this dish, gladly.

Linguine alle vongole

Linguine alle vongole

The abalone and porcini mushroom risotto was a real hit, and for many their favorite dish of the tasting menu. Everything combined perfectly, and each bite had a great taste to it. Seaweed was also used for flavoring in this dish, and it was spot on.

Abalone and porcini mushroom risotto

Abalone and porcini mushroom risotto

Dessert came with a message: “Tomato is a fruit.” That’s literally what the dish was called. A sweet tomato in a bowl with strawberry syrup, topped with white chocolate ice cream and vanilla foam, the message was loud, clear and delightful. This wasn’t a decadent dessert, full of sin and scandal; it was more like a peaceful agreement between good looking people who never really wanted to fight each other. This will be a popular dessert for the summertime.

Tomato dessert

Tomato dessert

Overall, this peek at what’s to come for Barberia restaurant definitely shows promise. You can experience this preview (last pop-up takes place Oct. 17) and decide for yourself by making online reservations on the Barbershop website. No word on when Barberia restaurant will open, but there will be quite a few people in the food world interested to see how this joint venture with Adam Fleischman, of Umami and AdVantage fame, will turn out.

Note: This meal was hosted.

29

09 2014

Saint Martha restaurant is pleasant surprise

Saint Martha interior

Saint Martha interior

It’s rare that a restaurant truly surprises you. Sure, I’ve thought that many dishes at many restaurants were good — very good, even. But to find what is almost literally a diamond in the rough is simply a delight.

That’s what I found in Saint Martha, a new restaurant in a Koreatown strip mall serving up modern American cuisine. Following in the footsteps of Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Mec and Petit Trois, Saint Martha restaurant offers a fine-dining experience in an unassuming location. Named for the patron saint of cooks and servants, Saint Martha is the brainchild of the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel and TART restaurant team. Executive Chef and partner Nick Erven (formerly of Mess Hall) and General Manager and Sommelier Mary Thompson have put together a food and drink menu that would be impressive even if the restaurant weren’t in a strip mall.

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17

08 2014

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

Marina Del Rey’s taste of Peru: Paiche

Yuquitas at Paiche

Yuquitas at Paiche

Paiche, the newest in Chef Ricardo Zarate‘s mini Peruvian restaurant kingdom, is his most ambitious yet. Located in Marina Del Rey just steps from the Pacific Coast Highway, its focus is seafood — a paiche is a South American tropical freshwater fish, after all. But I’m weird, OK? My favorite dishes at Paiche had nothing to do with the myriad fish and shellfish items on the menu.

The Yuquitas, yuca beignets filled with manchego cheese and topped with grated parmesan, were light and airy yet delightfully chewy. The creaminess of the cheese went well with the salty fried goodness of the yuca. I could eat these all day long.

Out of all the dishes I tried — and I had the uni shrimp toast (didn’t like it texturally) and the blood clams and uni risotto (too fishy tasting) — the Ceviche de Pato, confit duck in a ceviche stew and lima bean rice, was my favorite. It was super savory and hearty.

Ceviche de Pato

Ceviche de Pato

As for the Deysi Alvarez-designed cocktails, two stood out to me. The Last Ice Age, with Porton pisco, Hakushu whiskey 12 year, Asian pear, shiso, organic egg white, lime, lemon, evaporated simple syrup and Fernet Branca drops, was just my kind of drink. I always go for the whiskey-based drink, and this one didn’t disappoint. The Last Ice Age was a nice combination of sweetness, tartness, bitterness and frothiness.

Last Ice Age

The Last Ice Age

The Bernard Devoto AKA The Master of Intoxication, with Sino reposado tequila, Christian Drouin calvados brandy, yellow chartreuse, Benedictine and Angostura bitters, was also a highly drinkable — and potent — choice.

Bernard Devoto

Bernard Devoto

Note: This meal was hosted.

25

05 2013

Allumette lights up Echo Park dining

Poached octopus at Allumette

Poached octopus at Allumette

Allumette, owners Charles Kelly and Bill DiDonna’s new eatery in their former Allston Yatch Club space in Echo Park, is a home run. With chef Miles Thompson (Son of a Gun, Vagrancy Project) in the kitchen and mixologist Serena Herrick (Pour Vous, Harvard & Stone) behind the bar, Allumette really steps it up with inventive, intensely flavorful food and drink that’s hard to find in this neighborhood.

The restaurant recently added Tuesday night dinner service and changed its menu to a pared-down version of its à la carte and added a five-course $72 tasting menu with an optional beverage pairing for $45.

If you’re going for the tasting menu, which everyone in your party must order, you can look forward to the homey-yet-decidedly new-feeling poached octopus with beluga lentils, vadouvan butter and a fried egg (pictured above), and the goat’s milk flan with angel food cake, brown butter and cucumber-flavored tapioca for dessert.

Goat's milk flan

Goat’s milk flan

From the à la carte menu, the crudo options — pink snapper with kanzuri (Japanese chili paste with yuzu), white soy and cherimoya, and live scallop tartare with strawberry, black truffle and elderflower — are both good choices.

Pink snapper crudo

Pink snapper crudo

Live scallop tartare

Live scallop tartare

When it comes to pasta, go for the cavatelli bathed in an uni ragu and served with English pea purée, braised mushrooms and Thompson’s special fromage noir.

Cavatelli with uni ragu

Cavatelli with uni ragu

One of the more interesting dishes is the short rib cooked in pho broth served on top of a scallion pancake with a side of xiu mai. While I found the meat a tad too salty for my taste, I appreciate the innovation in the dish.

Short rib "pho"

Short rib “pho”

If you’re lucky Thompson might send out a surprise, such as fried potato mascarpone butter (unlike anything I’ve ever had!) served with house-made focaccia topped with black lava sea salt, or a tiny fairy squid with flowering cilantro and yuzu.

Potato mascarpone butter

Potato mascarpone butter

As for cocktails, I enjoyed the Gentleman’s Breakfast, a hearty concoction of Famous Grouse scotch, egg white, lemon and ginger honey syrup topped with Atomized Candy Cap bitters, Islay scotch and a piece of candied ginger. The Le Système Solaire with Oloroso sherry, Dolin Blanc vermouth and Bergamot bitters, is another satisfying choice.

Gentleman's Breakfast

Gentleman’s Breakfast

Note: This meal was hosted.

22

04 2013

Taste Los Angeles at the Taste of Mexico

Mini sea urchin tostada with chicharron and esquites (Mexican street corn) from Cacao Mexicatessen

Mini sea urchin tostada with chicharron and esquites (Mexican street corn) from Cacao Mexicatessen

People always ask me what’s the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. Well, now those people — it could be you! — can find out for themselves at the 2nd Annual Taste of Mexico on Nov. 30 at Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. Some of the best Mexican food in the city will be represented, including Playa, La Monarca Bakery, Guelaguetza, Cacao Mexicatessen and Guisados. I was recently invited to try some of these eateries’ offerings, and every single bite of food I had was delicious, especially the sea urchin tostada with chicharron and esquites (Mexican street corn off the cob) from Cacao Mexicatessen (above) and the Oaxacan mole negro pollo tamal from Guelaguetza (below). You won’t go wrong at Taste of Mexico.

Mole negro tamal from Guelaguetza

Mole negro chicken tamal from Guelaguetza

The event, which promises to be a veritable party judging by the hosts, will also feature Mexican beer, Baja wines, mezcal and tequila in addition to unlimited samplings from the participating restaurants. For even more fun, you’ll also find live music, mariachi and DJs. A portion of every ticket sold will benefit Los Angeles’ Downtown Art Walk.

Tickets cost $50 for general admission and $70 for VIP, which includes the uber-pricey Casa Dragones tequila and early admission to the event.

18

11 2012

Favorites from the L.A. Street Food Fest

As I’ve previously written, this year’s L.A. Street Food Fest was held at the Rose Bowl, and it was a fun and flavorful event. I had a really great time. Unfortunately for the organizers, it was held over Carmageddon weekend when a portion of the 405 freeway was shut down, and that affected attendance. However, the lack of a big crowd and long lines probably contributed to my enjoyment, so it was a catch 22. I hope it all evens out next year!

Here were some of my favorite bites from this year’s event.

Baja Bites

Sea Urchin Tostada by Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense

Sea Urchin Tostada by Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense

Pacific Oyster Asada w/ chicharron short rib, serrano ponzu butter, lemongrass foam by Javier Plascencia of Mision 19

Pacific Oyster Asada w/ chicharron short rib, serrano ponzu butter, lemongrass foam by Javier Plascencia of Mision 19

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01

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