Dining with Sybil and Simon is always a treat – they make any dining experience an occasion. See here for Simon’s posts and twittering.
We have eaten at Bastide in all its different phases – Alain Giraud, Ludo Lefebrvre, Walter Manske and now Joseph Mahon. Each chef has a very personal style and Chef Mahon has definitely transformed Bastide to his culinary vision. I would characterize Bastide as California cuisine much like Michael’s in its hey day. The flavors are clear and pure, the ingredients are first-rate and there are few if any extraneous ingredients on the plate i.e. none of the school of throwing 30 ingredients in the air and hope that it makes sense. The bells and whistles are not from manipulating food to be clever, but rather from letting the ingredients shine and not be overshadowed with superfluous flourishes. Chef Mahon’s food exhibits a chef who is comfortable and confident with his expertise and skill.
Service at Bastide is perfect – A++ Tina, our waitress, was tremendous. It didn’t hurt that she grew up in Pittsburgh ( my husband is from there), but she also worked at Per Se in New York and Bouchon in Beverly Hills.
I don’t have a picture of Dario, but he was equally as gracious and accomodating.
We were seated in what is called the garden room.
Notice the campbell’s soup can “chandelier.”
We decided to just let Chef Joseph Mahon devise a tasting menu.
Bread service – Fennel and Olive, Apple/Cashew, Regular Wheat, Raisin – delicious and we had a repeat serving.
Compressed watermelon, toasted pine nuts, celery leaf, feta water and parsley added for color – very light and refreshing. I liked the watermelon beginning so much that I made a watermelon/heirloom tomato salad with feta for our 4th of July barbecue. (I love stealing ideas!)
Corn Soup, Crispy Pork Nuggets, Orange Segments, Curry Oil – Simon was a little put off by the orange segments, but John and I were not as affected. The soup itself was delicious and the pork just a lovely addition – pork and corn what is there not to like.
On the left, frisee salad with whole grain mustard, crispy pig ear and on the right pork terrine, pickled ramps and cornichons – focused food done well.
Yellowtail blanched in brown butter, Chinese long beans, soy beans, shaved asparagus, radish with an apple soy vinaigrette – lovely and light and a different and unique take on the yellowtail crudo plate offered all over LA.
Heirloom Tomato Salad, Grated Goat Cheese, Mache, Avocado, Nicoise Olive, Croutons – this was summer on a plate and absolutely wonderful.
Scottish Salmon slowly poached in olive oil and duck fat, Beluga lentils, sugar snap peas, Port wine sauce – this was one of the dishes of the evening. I am not a great lover of cooked salmon – I often find it dry, overcooked and in a word boring. This was melt in your mouth perfect; I am guessing that the duck fat poaching had a great deal to do with that. The port wine sauce just added to the excellence.
Colorado Rack of Lamb. Baba Ganoush, Favas, Tomatoes, Natural Lamb Jus – I was getting very full and Simon managed to finish some of my portion and I think some of Sybil’s. John didn’t share at all with Simon – he loved it and ate every bite.
Cheese Course – Epoisse, Blue, Petit Basque, Apple (Simon likes his cheese course after dessert – the English way. We like our cheese course before dessert – the phrase “When in Rome” applies here.)
Sorbets – Yogurt, Mango, Cherry – this was a miss.
Chocolate Souffle, Rum Vanilla Ice Cream, Mango Chocolate Sauce – the souffle was perfect.
Bastide in its current incarnation delivers a very solid meal – far superior to many of the mid to high-end dining experiences around Los Angeles. It is civilized dining – not about the scene, but about the food. You can actually have a conversation. As I mentioned earlier this is classic California cuisine – ingredient focused, well prepared. Chef Mahon doesn’t cruise the room. (He came out at the very end of our meal). Rather this is a committed chef whose concern is what is on the plate and it shows.