Archive for the 'Spago – Beverly Hills' Category

Spago

Our dinner at Spago was extraordinary. Chef Tetsu Yahagi constructed a masterful tasting menu. I truly think he is one of the best chefs in the country and should be recognized as a world-class rising star chef. His dishes are as beautiful to look at as they are to taste. His melding of flavors is masterful. His creativity is incredible. I just can’t rave enough about how great this meal was. Spago is closing on July 9th for remodeling. The patio, our favorite place to eat, is being completely redone.

The patio

The garden is being demolished – Barbara Lazaroff (Wolfgang’s ex-wife) planted beautiful flowers in the garden that morning as a last hurrah!

BYO Champagne

Spicy Tuna Tartar in Miso Cone Cup – a signature dish

House Smoke Salmon with Lemon Herb Blini and Dill Crème Fraiche – another signature dish

Farmer’s Market Shelling Bean Hummus Tarts with zatar oil, basil oil and mustard seed

Osetra Caviar, Free Range Chicken Egg, softly scrambled – so many chefs don’t get this right – the eggs were perfect.

Sauteéd Kusshi Oyster with Mango Chutney, Madras Curry Aioli and Cilantro Blossom – another one bite wonder

Green Zebra Heirloom Tomato Sorbet with Tomato Water – refreshing and a nod to summer

Not pictured : BYO White wine: Dageneau ’09 Silex

We were presented with this box for our next dish. In the small bowl was tororo kelp (shredded seaweed)

In the box was freshly shaved bonito flakes

Santa Barbara Uni placed on top of Cauliflower Bavaloise  and Dashi Gelee. The Tororo Kelp and “Honkarebushi” Bonito Flakes are sprinkled on top. This was absolutely delicious.

Barely cooked Japanese Octopus Sashimi, Nectarine Ribbons, Rye Crisp, Celery Leaves, Frisee, Chives, Dill, Soy Salt, Black Pepper – who needs a great sushi bar!!!!

This is a close-up of the nectarine ribbon. I assumed that Chef Yahagi had sliced the nectarine on a Japanese Benriner Mandoline. When I asked I was told the Chef had sliced the nectarines by hand and then used a tweezer to fold the nectarine around the dill. Now that is over the top knife skills.

Japanese Ayu-Kishuu-Wakayama Fish( also called sweet fish) being presented

Japanese Ayu Kishuu-Wakayama “Fish ‘N’ Chips” Sauce Gribiche and Mizuna Salad – this was in a word inventive and just amazing

The dish deconstructed – the head and tail had been deep-fried and the flesh encased in tempura batter – you dipped each part in the gribiche sauce

The wonderful crunchy fish head and tail

Striped Bass Osso Buco, Ragout of Beans (black, red and summer shelling), Zucchini Blossoms, Zucchini Puree, Red Wine and Tomato Sauce, Lobster and Saffron Powder. The tail of the fish was wrapped around heart of palm stuffed with fish mousse – off the charts remarkable

Tagliatelle Pasta with Dungeness Crab and Nori Butter, Sudachi Lime and Chives – the pasta turns that color when it is tossed with the nori butter. I asked a lot of questions during this meal as I was so taken with the exactitude of Chef Yahagi’s technique and his attention to detail. Our wonderful servers were able to answer all my questions which is equally amazing.

First of the Season Sweet Corn Agnolotti, Mascarpone, Butter Glaze with Italian Summer Truffles – corn never had it so good

BYO Red Wine

Squab being presented

Slow Roasted Carpenter’s Ranch Squab Breast on the Bone, Spiced Gastrique, Caramelized Tenerelli Farm Figs, Shaved Hazelnuts on top. The sauce was made from drippings from the pan and deglazed with cognac and butter – absolutely A+

Slow Roasted Veal Loin, Farmer’s Market Pee-Wee Heirloom Potatoes, Potato Puree,  Potato “Soil” (toasted and crumbled potato bread) Veal demi-Glace – this reminded me of what David Kinch at Manresa does with his “Into The Garden” dish and his use of “soil.” Once again Chef Yahagi created an inventive dish that was remarkable for its simplicity that melded incredible taste sensations.

We were getting quite full and decided to forgo cheese and a parade of desserts.

Persian Blueberries

Sweet Puff pastry- crispy and baked, Whipped Creme Fraiche

The talented and remarkable Chef Yahagi

I wrote a thank you email to Chef Yahagi. His response speaks volumes about his passion for food – “You let me dance in inspiration.” I can’t wait until Spago reopens and I plan on many, many more meals with Chef Yahagi.

Spago

We had a fabulous meal in April with the new chef de Cuisine Tetsu Yahagi. We were anxiously anticipating our second meal with Chef Yahagi and it was even better than our first experience. Chef Yahagi is a terrific chef who executes to perfection plus has a gift for blending new flavor combinations, textures and ingredients. He combines contemporary technique with classical preparation perfectly. He is also a superb editor – there is nothing extraneous on the plate. Each dish is well-conceived and thoughtful. We opted to let Chef Yahagi create an “omakase” tasting menu and it was spectacular.

BYO Krug to start

Signature dish – Spicy tuna tartar in miso cone cup

Japanese Anago (eel) tempura with dehydrated soy powder – a one bite wonder of taste and texture

Hamachi ceviche with grapefruit, microgreens, yuzu sauce

Another signature dish – House smoked salmon on a corn blini, dill creme fraiche, salmon eggs

Sturgeon mousse in tomato-chili crackers topped with oscetra caviar – another one bite wonder with great texture – soft smooth mousse inside a crunchy outer shell

Bacon Confit en croute

BYO White wine

Sauteed Fanny Bay Oyster with Madras Curry Aioli, Mango Chutney, Marinated Cucumber – absolutely fantastic and I used my finger to mop up every bit of sauce

Cucumber Sorbet before broth is added

Cucumber Sorbet, brunoise of daikon and cucumber with a broth infused with jasmine tea – a lovely palate cleanser

Smoked Kanpachi, olive oil sorbet,farmer’s market mustard greens, cherry tomatoes, balsamic reduction and basil oil candy – again the combination of flavors were incredible plus smoking the kanpachi was a masterful idea

BYO White wine

Consomme gelee, cauliflower cream, oscetra caviar, Santa Barbara uni – Chef Yahagi knew that uni is one of my favorite ingredients and wow did he deliver with this dish

Lobster “Boudin Blanc,” Santa Barbara Spot Prawn (poached very slowly in olive oil), Mirugai (giant clam), Pickled Mustard Seed, Sweet Mustard Sauce, Herb “Caviar,” Watercress Puree – this was an incredible symphony on a plate – absolutely sensational

This box of eggs was then presented and set in the middle of the table as a centerpiece – a prelude to our next course

Araucana Hen’s Green Shell Egg “Ueva Da Raviolo” with Summer White Truffles, Hazelnuts, Brown Butter Sauce

Just look at that beautiful runny yolk – hopefully the photo conveys just how good this dish was

BYO Red Wine

Chicken being  presented

“Poulet Roti Grand Mer” – Slow roasted and flash smoked oraganic chicken breast, porcini mushrooms, Bulls-eye onions, ginko nuts and potato foam – this was the most succulent and tender chicken breast that I have ever eaten plus it was packed with flavor from the smoking which gave it a bacon taste. A+

Duo of American Kobe Beef – on the left New York Steak and on the right slow braised Short Ribs, confit eggplant, grilled spring garlic, Yuzu Kosho emulsion – absolutely delicious with perfect portion size

Cheese Course – Midnight Moon (goat), Portuguese Azetao (sheep), French Loupbergin (cow) with orange blossom honey and mostarda

Black Forest cake, chocolate and caramel cremeux, Austrian cake, port sautéed cherries, Kirsch whipped cream and cherry sorbet

This was an extraordinary culinary journey. I am totally wowed by Chef Yahagi’s passion, skill and dedication. I can’t wait to go back!

Spago

It has been quite some time that we have been back to Spago. This was not due to not loving the restaurant; it was just a matter of scheduling and not making the time. What a mistake that we waited so long! There is a new Chef de Cuisine, Tetsu Yahagi who is absolutely fabulous. “Now as Chef de Cuisine at Spago Beverly Hills, Tetsu comes full circle.  It is a dream realized. In his new role Chef Tetsu’s mission is to keep the history and tradition of Spago Beverly Hills vibrant; bringing his Japanese influence and sense of refinement to the cuisine. He uses Farmers Market ingredients to create exciting new menu selections. Under his elegant hand there is no doubt the legacy will continue.”

See his full bio here:

http://www.lafw.com/index.cfm/chef-Tetsu_Yahagi_372.htm

Chef Yahagi with sommelier Maria

First let me state that the patio at Spago is a lovely place to have a leisurely lunch on a Saturday afternoon – it is peaceful, relaxing and the service is A++ under the expert guidance of Assistant GM Laurent. We basically said to Laurent you decide what we will eat and that was the only decision we made.

BYO Krug Champagne
Spicy Tuna Tartar in a Sesame Tuile – a signature dish that is delicious
Hamachi Ceviche with Grapefruit
Sturgeon Mousse in a squid-ink crust, topped with oscetra caviar – this is a new creation of Chef Yahagi and was off the charts fabulous plus beautifully plated
Sauteed Kusshi Oyster with Madras Curry Aioli, Mango Chutney, Cilantro Flower – another new creation from Chef Yahagi and another winner. The aioli was so good that we mopped the sauce with our fingers.
The Oyster up close
House-smoked Salmon with Dill Creme Fraiche, Salmon Eggs on a Corn Blini – a signature Spago dish executed perfectly
Bacon Confit en Croute – another signature dish
Sauteed French White Asparagus, Ragout of Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Crawfish, Fava Beans, Orange Segments, Orange-scented Bearnaise Sauce – This just shouted seasonality and was executed with finesse.
BYO Red Wine
Rye Crusted Loup de Mer, Mussels, Squid Ink Sausage, Sweet Peas, Shellfish and Chorizo Broth – another winning combination of flavors with perfect execution
The loup de mer with the rye crust lifted a bit
Sweet Pea Agnolotti – the pasta was cooked beautifully and the peas were a lovely nod to Spring.
Tenderloin and Loin of Lamb, Cumin-scented puree, Young Baby Carrots, Pearl Onions, Baked Shoestring Potatoes, Natural Jus with Black Olives – enough to say we ate every bit!
Close-up of the  lamb
Now I am known to steal ideas from chefs I admire and I was very intrigued with the presentation of the potatoes. First that they were baked not fried and the round cylindrical shape made for a wonderful presentation. The potatoes are cut shoestring on a mandoline and then wrapped around a parchment covered aluminum tube.
This is an unbaked tube of beets ready for the evening’s service.
Cheese Plate – 24 month Gouda, Midnight Moon (Sheep’s milk from Corsica), Latour (Sheep, Goat and Cow’s milk cheese) , Road River Blue from Oregon with a Mostarda of Figs and Nuts, Orange Honey
What a perfect afternoon of incredible food and stupendous service!!!! I can’t wait to go back.

Spago

It has been quite a while since we have been to Spago for lunch. As usual the place was hopping and every table on the patio was full. We didn’t look at menus and just requested a tasting menu.

BYO Champagne to start

The next 4 dishes are the typical and signature starters on the tasting menu.

Spicy Tuna Tartar in a sesame tuile

Hamachi ceviche, plums, toasted soy (the fish and preparation changes with the season)

House smoked Salmon with dill creme fraiche, salmon eggs on a corn blini

Bacon Confit en Croute

BYO White Wine

Heirloom Tomato Salad, olive tapenade, basil aioli, diced red onions, microgreens, Humboldt Goat Cheese, Balsamic Vinegar – a wonderful combination highlighting the beginning of summer’s freshest tomatoes

 

Pan roasted loup de mer, sweet corn puree, ragout of corn and Maine lobster, sauce Americaine, fried parsley – this was an A dish – exquisite fish, grilled to perfection with a delicious ragout reminiscent of my summers in Maine with lobster and corn.

Sweet corn Agnolotti, summer white truffles, beurre blanc sauce with marjoram – I am just not a fan of summer white truffles although the pasta was delicious

Slow roasted rack of lamb, cumin-scented carrot puree, fava beans, artichokes, natural jus with black olives – another excellent combination of ingredients with a focus on seasonal ingredients.

Cheese Course – Goat, Cow and Sheep – didn’t get the exact names

Bread for the cheese

Peach Cobbler presented then served with

Buttermilk Ice Cream and yellow berries, raspberries, blackberries and red currants

From left to right  — Jeremy , floor manager, Chef Jorge Martinez, Laurent , AGM – what a team!

Lunch on the patio at Spago remains a very special experience.

Spago

Spago was very, very busy for Thursday lunch. My guess is that people were taking advantage of the fact that Spago is participating in the Dine LA promotion. We asked if we could just have a mini tasting menu – chef’s choice. Spago is a place where you ask and you receive.

We always sit on the patio, the table nearest the garden.

Sculpture in the garden.

Waterfall in the garden.

Laurent – one of the best managers in the city of Los Angeles

BYO Champagne

Spicy Tuna Tartar in a sesame tuile – signature dish

Ceviche of Japanese Hamachi with Emerald Plums served in a Chinese spoon

House-Smoked Salmon with Dill Crème Fraiche, Chives and Salmon Eggs served on a Blini

Bacon Confit en Croute

Heirloom Tomato Salad – micro cherry tomatoes plus regular cherry tomatoes, fresh burrata, basil aioli, balsamic, basil flower, croustillant infused with anchovies – this just screamed seasonality and quality ingredients. This is where Spago shines – let the ingredients speak for themselves and keep it simple, but with a great balance of flavors.

BYO White wine – Raveneau, La Foret 1997 – absolutely superb

Pan-roasted loup de mer rolled with Maryland Crab Meat, White Jerusalem Artichoke puree, French Ratouille, Champagne and Saffron Sauce, Basil Oil and fresh dill – The loup de mer was cooked perfectly (see photo below for the lovely crispy skin). Again this is cooking for the “less is more” school – no extraneous ingredients, no frills just for show.

Close-up of Loup de Mer

Pumpkin Agnolotti with White Italian Truffles from Alba – the agnolotti was cooked perfectly, but this is very early for white truffles and the truffles were more or less tasteless.

Close-up of the Agnolotti

Roast Loin of Sonoma Lamb, Summer Squash with Lamb sausage, Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Toasted Almonds, Apple on Celery Puree, Natural Jus with Black Olive – my favorite part of this dish was the sausage (personal preference), but over-all this was a well-executed dish.

Traditional Peach Cobbler, Cream Cheese Ice Cream, Yellow and Red Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries – a nice ending

Lunch at Spago is just a special experience and well-worth it.

Spago

Spago tends to start the tasting menu the same way each time. As long as you don’t go too often, it is almost a reassuring and familiar beginning. I apologize in advance for some very blurry photos.

Spicy Tuna Tartar in a sesame tuile

Hamachi Ceviche served in a Chinese Spoon

Smoked Sturgeon on a Lemon Herb Blini with Crème Fraiche and topped with Salmon Caviar – this was excellent and the sturgeon replaced the usual salmon.

In a tart shell, an avocado, cream and béarnaise mixture topped with Iranian Oscetra Caviar –  absolutely delicious.

Duck Liver Pastrami Sandwiched between Toasted Rye Bread Served With Apple Butter – I miss the foie

Duck Liver Mousse in a Bartlett Pear filled tart

Bacon Confit en croute – an old favorite

Black Truffle with Quail Eggs served on a Crouton, Truffle Sauce –absolutely delicious – what’s not to like – egg and truffle!

Hog Island Oyster Gratin with Butter Yuzu Hollandaise and topped with Oscetra Caviar  – again a great combination of oyster, caviar and yuzu hollandaise

Maine Diver Scallop Sashimi, Santa Barbara Uni, Matsutake Mushroom, Baby Greens, Micro Greens, Meyer lemon – Lee knows that we love uni and the combination with the finely diced scallops a nice flavor combination

Sautéed Nantucket Bay Scallops, Pickled Ginger Vinaigrette, Asian Cabbage

Pan Roasted Sweetbreads, Kohlrabi puree, citrus gastric, toasted almonds, chanterelles – the sweetbreads were crunchy on the outside, but meltingly tender

Risotto with black truffles – toothsome risotto

Roasted Langoustines with Light Thai Red Curry – Lee loves this dish and he excels at Asian cuisine

Served on the side,  a bowl of Pad Thai Noodles

Wild Scottish Pheasant, served on Rutabaga Puree with Juniper/Thyme Jus and a ragout of turnips, carrots and black trumpet mushrooms – another winner

Served on the side Gnocchi with a ragout of the braised leg of the pheasant – the gnocchi were as light as a feather. (absolutely horrible photo)

Roasted Filet of Venison, Chestnut Puree, Braised Red Cabbage  and Roasted Pear in Huckleberries – we were getting very full and I really didn’t do justice to this dish and the accompanying Shepherd’s pie.

Laurent presents the Shepherd’s pie – I am guessing that the minced meat was the venison and the potatoes were sweet potatoes.

Cheese – Basically the cheese tray was sloppy looking, but the cheese was delicious.

Many of these dishes I have had or variations of them. This is not an innovative dining experience, but it is global as well as representative of California cuisine. Spago is definitely a scene – at least 2 turns a night – although our table is usually just one turn. Therefore, our experience at Spago is not what the “ordinary” diner might receive. Laurent, AGM, “manages” our meal.  We are known quantities and Lee makes a special effort to get ingredients that we particularly like i.e. uni. I don’t have a clue what the usual tasting menu is as we never order or even look at a menu. We bring our own wine and share with everyone. Spago is fun and it is more than a scene if you are a “regular.”

Spago

Lunch at Spago is always a treat and the patio is just a lovely place to dine. I have said this numerous times, but having a tasting menu is the only way to order at Spago.

Spago patio

The Patio

Spago patio 1

Another view of the patio

Spago dining room

Inside dining room

Spago bar

The bar

Spago garden

The garden – Patio

Spago garden 1

Sculpture in the garden – Patio

Spago garden 2

Waterfall – Patio

Spago Krug

BYO Krug Champagne

 

Spago tuna cones

Tuna tartar in a sesame cone

 

Spago ceviche

Hamachi Ceviche with Heirloom Tomato Confit

 

Spago mousse with blini

Smoked Trout Mousse, Salmon Eggs, Chives, Red Onion, Corn Blini

 

Spago duck liver

Duck Liver Mousse, Pear Compote, Golden Raisin Tartlets

 

Spago BYO white wine

BYO White Wine

 

Spago bruchetta 1

Bruschetta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil Aioli

Spago bruchetta

Close-up of the Bruschetta

 

Spago bacon en croute

Bacon En Croute

 

Spago tomato sorbet

Heirloom Tomato Sorbet, Tomato Carpaccio, Basil Oil

 

Spago red wine

BYO Red Wine

 

spago pig'es ear

spago pig's ear 1

Warm Crispy Baked Pig’s Ears, Gigantic Beans, Chanterelles, Balsamic, Mushroom Emulsion, Wild Arugula

 

Spago pan roasted langoustine

Pan Roasted Langoustine, Maryland Crab, Baby Leek Puree, Matsutake Mushrooms, Fresh Grated Yuzu

 

Spago pasta

White Corn Agnolotti, Shaved White Truffle

 

 Spago lamb

Roasted Saddle of Sonoma Lamb, Blood sausage, Sweetbreads, Ragout of Porcini Mushrooms, Figs, Natural Jus

 

Spago cheese

Cheese

 

A lovely lunch on a warm, sunny afternoon.


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