Archive for April, 2008

Marinus

This was a pleasant surprise both in terms of cuisine, ambiance and the over-all hospitality of the place. We arrived and the doorman immediately handled the luggage issues. Escorted to the lobby, a concierge person poured us each a glass of wine and explained the numerous amenities of the property. What a nice beginning!

All of the mini bar items in the room from water, to more bottles of wine and snack bar items are free. The property also has a spa and the staff couldn’t be more cordial and accommodating.

We have known the Chef Cal Stamenov of Marinus for years; he was sous chef under Michel Richard at Citrus. He knew we were coming and had planned a menu for us. There was one preparation for John and one for me. Of course, we shared. Generally, I will let the photos tell the story. Over-all this was a delicous meal that was marked by excellent execution (particularly the fish), “sunshine” ingredients and enough creativity without being fussy.

Amuse #1 – Lobster, Brik Croutons, Avocado Juice

 

Amuse #2

Poached Beau Soleil Oysters, Potato-Horseradish Gnocchi, Oyster, Shallot, Sherry Veloute and on top a potato crisp topped with California Oscetra Caviar

 

Amuse #3

Fava Bean Vichyssoise and Black Truffles with a Grilled Cheese Brioche Sandwich with Black Truffle Slices – This reminded me of Rostang’s famous black truffle sandwich and was delicious.

 

 

First Course

Blue Fin Tuna Tartare and Foie Gras with yuzu emulsion (the dots) and Meyer lemon confit with truffles

 

 

Seared Monterey Bay Spot Prawn with Fresh Citrus, Cucumber, Tomato, Brioche Croutons and Chilled Cucumber/Avocado Soup poured on top.

 

 

 

Second Course-

Asparagus Ravioli, Parmesan Foam, Asparagus Tips, Cherry Tomato, Parma Proscuitto Breadsticks and Orange Zest

 

 

Seared Day Boat Scallop, Lobster/Prawn Stuffed Dumpling Topped with Truffles, Braised Leek, Black Truffle Beurre Blanc Sauce

 

Third Course

Olive Oil Poached Scottish Salmon with English Pea Risotto, Apple-wood Smoked Bacon, Carbonara Sauce (bacon, cream, butter), English Pea Puree, Baby Garlic

 

 

Loup de Mer, Saute of Monterey Bay Squid, Cippolini onions, Coco Beans, Green Garlic Puree with Oven-dried Tomatoes

 

 

Fourth Course

Soft Poached Duck Egg, Duck Proscuitto Cubes, Truffles, Creamy Spinach, Croutons

 

 

Foie Gras, Duck Breast, Arugula, Duck Gizzard, Duck Jus

 

Fifth Course

Rabbit Loin, Black trumpet Mushrooms, Tomato, Parsnip Puree and a Terrine of Rabbit Shoulder, Leek/Fava Beans, Whole Grain Mustard, Red Wine sauce

 

 

Japanese Kobe Beef, Black truffle Vinaigrette, Wine Cup Mushrooms, Roasted Beets

 

Sixth Course-

Cheese Course –

Tomme du Berger – cow’s milk, marcona almond

Bleu de Severac – sheep’s milk, quince jam

Correzon – goat’s milk, honeycomb

 

 

Seventh Course

Meyer Lemon Sorbet, Caramel sauce, Poached Meringue, Tonka Bean

 

Chocolate “Something”

 

 

Obviously, this was a superior meal – hopefully the photos tell the story.

Providence

Providence is our go to restaurant for a fine dining meal. From the fine cuisine to the gracious service, this is a wonderful experience. Personally, it is our favorite restaurant in Los Angeles.

Amuse #1

From left to right – Greyhound Vodka and grapefruit, Gin and Tonic and Mojito – we have had this before but it is an excellent way to start a meal at Providence – whimsical, refreshing and fun.

Close-up of Greyhound

Close-up of Gin and Tonic
Close-up of Mojito

Amuse #2

From left to right – house-cured Tasmanian trout salad with small brown rice “crackers” that resembled puffed rice, goat cheese wrapped in pickled hearts of palm and topped with chopped pistachios, and a mug of warm saffron syrup on the bottom and cold fennel soup on top to be taken in one gulp – delicious with the nod going to the trout.

Close-up of fennel soup

Close- up of Goat Cheese

 

Close-up of trout

 

First Course – Scallop Sashimi

On one scallop slice was compressed cucumber and oscetra caviar and on the other the cucumber, caviar topped by a sour grass blossom. In the middle was a strip of wasabi cream. Just returning from France and having numerous scallop dishes, this version was definitely the equal of those in France.


Second Course – Monkfish Liver terrine.

Underneath the monkfish liver was pickled watermelon radish. To the left were shitake mushrooms and on top of the liver a shitake mushroom and cherry blossom. Then our server poured a bit of soy consomme into the dish. An excellent course.

Third Course – Uni 3 ways

Chef Michael is well aware of my love for uni and this trio was stupendous. Of course, I am going to have to try to that hollowed out egg ‘trick.” The uni was absolutely top-notch quality.

1. In a hollowed out egg, uni almond elmusion to be drunk through a straw

2. Uni with soft scrambled eggs with chives

3. Uni egg custard


 

Close-up of uni with almond emulsion


Close-up of uni with scrambled eggs

close-up of the uni custard


Fourth Course – Abalone

The abalone had been cooked at 110 degrees for 7 hours in a sea bath. It was served with tiny fava beans, seaweed and Meyer lemon. The abalone was melt in your mouth tender plus a wonderful nod to spring with the favas.

 

Fifth Course -Salmon Belly

The salmon belly was cooked a la plancha with very crispy skin. In the middle of the plate was braised rhubard with liquid gel, to the left morel mushrooms, smoked spring onion at the top of the plate, and on the far left sour grass and micros lettuce. Absolutely delicious.

Sixth Course – Foie Gras

Sauteed Foie Gras with chive blossoms, Porcini Mushrooms, White Asparagus and Aged Balsamic – John started to be attacked by some intestinal problems at this point so he was slowly disintegrating in front of my eyes.

Seventh course – Wagyu

A5 Wagyu with Shimeji mushrooms, Peas, Vadouvan Spiced Foam and Jus de beouf – John forgot to take a picture and as I mentioned above, I was losing him. These are pictures of the leftovers that we took home. My personal preference is for the fish courses at Providence.

We were suppose to have cheese and dessert, but we were forced to call a halt to an excellent meal due to John’s health issues.

Providence is head and shoulders above any restaurant in Los Angeles so it is definitely qualifies as our favorite restaurant.

Mai House

Mai House is one of Drew Niporent [Myriad Restaurant Group] restaurants. We were with a friend of the house, so obviously she was in charge of ordering.

We started with a special cocktail – Tiger Tails – pepper vodka, passionfruit purée, and a pickled Thai chile

Then we basically ate the menu.

Chinese Sausage Summer roll in rice paper

 

Hot Mushrooms Spring Rollls – Chanterelles, Shitakes, Wood Mushrooms, Soy Cham Sauce

 

Salt and Pepper Cuttlefish – Sweet and Sour Kiwi sauce

 

Raw Artichoke Salad – Rau Ram, herbs

 

Spicy Beef and Pomelo Salad – Rau Mam Herb, Chilies, Lime

 

BBQ Quail, Sticky Rice, Kaffir Lime, Crispy Shallots

 

Clay Pot Organic Chicken, Quail eggs, Lemongrass, Ginger, Chilies

 

Braised Berkshire Pork Belly, Pickled Red cabbage, Coconut Juice

 

Thin Sliced Sizzling Lemongrass Skirt Steak Pandan Scented Sweet Onion

 

A special of striped bass

 

Stir Fry Saigon Noodles, Bean Curd, Bean spouts, Garlic Chives

Dessert –

pandan panna cotta with a layer of curry gelée on top

 

Sorbets

An excellent meal.

Le Central

Le Central is Troisgros’ bistro.

This is the place where we got the idea for the BIN place mat with the image of the knife and fork. We added the glasses and plate image plus the famous wine stain. It appears that they have changed theirs a bit. The place mat is bigger, a purple tone with two wine glass images and a plate. There is no wine stain. 
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Lunch:
me— I wanted to try the Le Central omelet that I made at home. It wasn’t on the menu. Figuring that it is essentially eggs and cheese I begged for my omelet. The waiters and kitchen were very accommodating and I got my cheese omelet with a small salad. Delicious!
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John— The preset 3 course menu
1st course – tuna carpaccio with capers and slices of Parmesan cheese. With John anything can and usually does become a sandwich. John did in fact change this into a sandwich of raw tuna with capers and parmesan…he loved it!
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2nd course – pork loin with pancetta with two canelles of polenta. This was a massive portion. John ate 50% and was stuffed. The polenta was delicious—rich and creamy and the pork was delicious.
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Dessert—fruit salad with a cooked meringue…nothing special.
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Wine:
2005 Sancerre Dezai…a moderate priced, decent value…we enjoyed it. 

Summary:
We like Le Central. It is a classic bistro with great charm and panache. We compared it with Comme Ca, the new bistro in West Hollywood that we enjoyed. The big difference – noise level at Central is non-existent…it is comfortably full, but not crazy and the very high ceilings and fabrics absorb the sound. The staff is infinitely more professional than Comme Ca…the culture of foodservice in France is so much more professional than the USA there is no way to compare even the average waiter or waitress from France to USA, especially the typical “I’m really an actor” waiter in LA. The whole experience at Le Central is fun and the food is good. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Le Jardin Gourmand

I have no idea why I picked this restaurant – no Michelin stars, but 3 forks Michelin.

It turns out that the chef, co-owner, Pierre Boussereau and the manager/co-owner, Olivier Laplaine are passionate about seasonal ingredients and organic gardening.  In fact they will be one of only 14 restaurants featured in a new book that Chef Passard is writing on those chefs in France with extensive gardens.

Le Jardin Gourmand is situated in a small house in Auxerre.   Conveniently, the restaurant is on the first floor and Pierre and Olivier live on the second floor.  This gives new meaning to the phrase “walking to work”.

Amuse:

1. spicy tomato soup with a special oregano that the chef found in Cyprus

2. pea mousse with Bavarian cream, a slice of radish, a pea and a carrot slice.

3. pigeon pate with beetroot gelee

4. scallop mousse

 

A lovely start.

1st course:

John—risotto with “cooked” sliced apple and grilled squid, cockles and a sauce of squid ink.  This was not a standard risotto.  The rice was served in a small mound.  The squid—full bodies and tentacles were on the left surrounded with the cockles and squid ink sauce.  This was an unusual take on risotto.  John said, “delicious”.

 

 

me—foie gras millefeuille with a grilled large gamba and a salad of lettuce, herbs, edible flowers from the garden  The foie gras were slices of cold foie gras pate interspersed with thin slices of celeriac with a touch of saffron. The quality of the ingredients was perfection – absolutely highlighting the garden.

 

 

Main Course:

John—blanquette de veau with mushrooms—a very traditional preparation of stewed veal with a white roux sauce and small whole mushrooms.   John’s verdict— classical preparation, well-executed.

 

me —farm leg filet of lamb from the Morvan with eggplant jus emulsion, pistachio oil, pumpkin tempura, and a touch of curry spice.  The tempura seemed to be more of a fritter batter.  The lamb was excellent.  I was instructed to definitely eat the fat.

 

We finished up with mignardises.

 

Wine:

2000 Volnay La Farge—young, strawberry, truffle, drank very well.

Summary:

A thoroughly enjoyable experience and what a find.  Olivier was charming and certainly made this a wonderful lunch.


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