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Some recent meals in LA for y'all


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Hi

There is not much activity on this site for LA for a city of it's size. Thought I'd try to help up the ante a bit with a few reviews of recent meals in the City of Angels:

1. Lucques

Superb meal :biggrin: - I last ate here 3 years ago when Lucques was still fairly new. It was good then and it's better now. And RAMMED. We turned up at 10 PM on a Saturday and the place was wall-to-wall. Andy Dick was holding court at the bar. We plumped for the whopping great Club Steak for 2 for entree with Brondade for appetizer. What a piece of meat!!! Cooked on the bone to perfection with excellent slight charring around the meat to crisp up the fat, perfectly medium rare in the middle. In an out in under an hour and a half which is impressive for a place already heaving with service demands. Some lovely wines by the glass - a Zinfandel and a Syrah, the former of which was well paired with the steak. I am going to become a regular here for sure - so many of the dishes on the menu were appealing and this time around we couldn't fit dessert so we definitely have unifinished business as Susan Gloin's place.

2. Social Hollywood

Very underwhelming. :sad: Again a late session and the place was heaving but mainly due to the jittery, wild-eyed patrons clambering to access the club that shares the building with Social. Service was average and wines small in choice/excitement. Social charges almost the same prices as Lucques and when eating at both establishments within 3 days of one another I couldn't possibly ever bring myself to go to Social ever again when I know there are better options. The food is OK but not memorable. Even a week later I have trouble remembering the tastes. The beef at Lucques still haunts me, however.

3. Grace

So near and yet... :hmmm: All sorts of big expectations and enthusiasm accompanied our party to Grace. We were going to eat pig in every form available knowing Neal Fraser's mastery of the porcine form as ably displayed on Iron Chef America. I loved the ambience and decor of Grace - it feels like Soho in New York or somewhere infinitely more sophisticated than, well, Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. We were recommended a delicious bottle of Italian red by the sommelier and appetizers (Foie Gras for yours truly) also tickled our fancy. between 3 of us we managed to corner every pig-based dish on the list. Entrees, however, felt like it was more of a quantity over quality approach. A bunch of pigs just lacking a certain 'i don't know what'. Nothing spectacular for me, sadly. There was truly a mountain of food but none of it was truly outstanding and foie gras is a dish I've yet to eat done badly. Maybe someone can correct my choices on the menu. I think I'd give Grace another try but there are some other fish to fry and some other pigs to eat in unsampled establishments before I return here I wager.

4. Ortolan

Eating here tomorrow night. :wink: Watch this space.

Some other recent casual options:

Zeke's smokehouse

GREAT BBQ food. The sides are pretty dull but the Memphis baby backs and Carolina pulled pork rock my world. Mmmmm mmmeaat.

In'N"out

Had to include it - nothing hits the spot like In'N'Out. The best fast food in LA (at least until I get my butt to Pink's which is still on the list). Double double animal style, fries well done, chocolate shake. The order of champions.

Versailles

Ah the roast pork - how much is it - like, $7 a serve? Heavenly with or without sides. Some of the best value food in LA.

The Farm, LA

The lobster club rules and the brownies should be outlawed.

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There is not much activity on this site for LA for a city of it's size.

DJ & Others -- I would be remiss if I didn't comment that the "traffic" on the site about Los Angeles has dropped off markedly in my opinion in the nearly 6-months since the weekly summaries of the LA Times Food section stopped.

RJWong put in a good run providing the summaries and gave notice that he was stopping. A few posts by me urging someone . . . anyone . . . to take this on went unanswered. I am not ready to resume this but someone really ought to do this.

Personally I think the Food section at the LA Times is great. If you have any doubt check out this week's issue from today with a great write up about the changes at the venerable, old-school Matteo's . . . a review of the somewhat updated Chinois on Main . . . a great article about McGrath Farms in Ventura . . . a how-to for really slow cooked lamb . . . caramel . . . and more.

Again, I plead for someone to resume the weekly summaries. Once you get a week or two under your belt, it becomes pretty straightforward. There is no one way to do it. Each of us who has taken this on has put his/her own spin on it. And, you become a minor celebrity here on eG and, in RJ's case anyway, in the LA Food scene.

Please, please, please.

(Sorry DJ -- Bet this wasn't the response you were expecting.)

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Versailles

Ah the roast pork - how much is it - like, $7 a serve? Heavenly with or without sides. Some of the best value food in LA.

Having lived in L.A. for 18 years -- and now four years transplanted in NoCal -- Versailles' Cuban Roast Pork with black beans and rice and fried plantains is one of the top three things I really miss about LaLaLand.

The others two are Zankou chicken and Shin-Sen-Gumi's lunch menu.

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Hey Chris

I think we ordered every dish on the menu from the appetizer & entree menu that featured pig-product. There were 3 of us dining and 4 of the dishes were piggy from memory??? Mostly entrees - I could check the Grace online menu...

Cheers

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OK here's the review of Ortolan. We had the tasting menu:

Foie Gras Confit with Fig

Chutney of Pear

~

This dish was very nice however I thought it would have worked better had the foie gras been pan-seared. It was confit and served cold. Also the brioche needed assembly and we found this a little messy. Perhaps pre-stacked? But I guess the brioche would go soggy...

Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Black Truffle

Gelée of Crustacean with Lobster

~

Very rich. Perhaps bordering on a little too creamy I thought. But excellent flavours.

Egg and Caviar Cooked in Hot Ash

Whipped Cream and Vanilla

~

Reminded us of a dish at the Fat Duck? Caviar was delicious and the rest was, well just OK.

Roast Langoustine with Quince

Black Truffle and Hazelnut Emulsion

~

We thought the next two dishes were probably the highlights. Although this dish had an imbalance of ingredients - there should have been 2 langoustines as there was a ton of quince left over. Maybe a cost thing.

Roast Scallop with Black Risotto Vénere

Tomato Chorizo Sauce

~

Quite a hearty dish. My wife thought the scallop may have been slightly chewy but it was paired with an Olive Tuile that was bark-like in consistency so I didn't notice. Very flavourful.

Roast Seabass with Chesnut Ravioli

Green Cabbage, Pumpkin Purée and Truffle Coulis Sauce

~

I think this dish was the low point of the meal. It was as though the ingredients were trying to out-do each other for who could stand out the least. Everything seemed to have an earthy, dare I say almost blandness? And the chestnut ingredient was gritty too boot which killled the texture.

Caramelized Roast Duck Suprème

Swiss Chard with Autumn Vegetables

~

Lovely salty crisp duck skin (reminciscent of peking duck) was the highlight of this dish was was not good without being truly great.

Cheese Plate

Sottocenere “Black Truffle”

~

Fine. Went well with the red that came with the duck. I was comped a refill on this due to the duck running late - there was a huge private room table effecting the kitchen (only very slightly).

Pre Dessert

~

Apple in Two ways with Caramel Ice Cream

~

This was the pick of the desserts. I believe one way was an apple panna cotta which was executed perfectly and the other a kind of apple jelly? Caramel ice cream also very very good and nice version of a melon ball , done in apple.

Chocolate Ganache with Biscuit and Orange Sorbet

~

Maybe I am jaded about chocolate because it's the one thing that is probably the most common ingredient of a tasting menu in my limited experience (although I would think foie gras is giving it a run for its money if recent meals I've had are anything to go by) but this was not outstanding. It was very good but chocolate (like foie gras) is hard to screw up so if you want a 5-star dish you need to really pull out all the stops.

I also had the matching wines. Some interesting choices including a wine from the Basque region of Europe that had the ubiquitous letter x in it several times. Nothing startling but very competent matchings.

Service was fine although we started early and felt surrounded by waiters. Maybe it's not a big enough establishment for them to make themselves scarce? Also some of the busboys tried to explain the meals but had difficulty conveying the meaning. In the end our server/waiter had to take over. Maybe in future they should just leave it to the waiters?

Would I go back here? Not in a hurry I think. I don't know if that vibe came out in the above blow by blow but given we were $400 poorer at the end of the night I wanted to float out of the door. We both felt stuffed full but 2 days later we were not cherishing memories of the night or the food. I still recall most of my meal at the Fat Duck in London when I lived there and that was 18 months ago. Similarly with West in Vancouver 3 months ago - wow was that a good meal. The prices at these other two establishments weren't too far removed from Ortolan's. I really think that if you ware going to step up to the plate and do the full tasting menu thang then you need to be hitting home runs every time, not just making a 2nd or 3rd base hit.

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I've seen Andy Dick at Lucques on three separate occasions so he must be a straight up fan of Suzanne's cooking.

I don't know if "straight" up fan is the best term.....

:laugh:

I saw him out at a bar in LA once, he definately wasn't just drunk....wow, I would have loved some of what he was on... :laugh:

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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That's weird, I thought Andy Dick was vegan. I've only ever seen him in vegan restaurants or the health food market. I guess it's just part time. ;)

I would be willing to to the Food section summaries if it's wanted and if you don't expect major masterpieces from me.

Is there some formal induction, or would one just ... do it?

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I think the tribal elders gather around Griffith Park Observatory under a full moon and sacrifice a baby goat cheese with an old vine zinfandel to appease the food gods, then they pass you the sacred napkin of gorging.

Back in reality, I think you would 'just do it', to coin a phrase. No wait, someone's done that already. I think RJ Wong was happy to hand the napkin over to whomever had the time & motivation. I say bravo if you are the woman (?) for the job.

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