Archive for March, 2010


Bazaar has become one of our favorite restaurants. The food and service is exceptional. A word of advice, though, do go early for there is little or no scene and people are there to dine. You can order one dish at a time and create an incredible tasting menu. One other advantage of going early, you can actually carry on a conversation with your dining companions.

Aaron Sherman handled the wine with class.  I should have expected that as he is Paul Sherman’s son. We have known Paul Sherman for over 25 years and I might add son takes after his father. Paul was the manager at Michael’s starting in 1985 and is now sommelier at Valentino.

Alex – tonight’s wonderful server and Josua – our last terrific server

BYO Magnum of Chandon Champagne

All notes were lost somewhere on the table or  getting to the car or who knows where. As a result, my descriptions rely heavily on what is on the menu. Also, one member of our party of four couldn’t have gluten, but I must say Alex handled this not as a problem, but as a way to introduce us to dishes we might not have ordered.

Tortilla de Patatas “New Way” – warm potato foam, caramelized onion with a slow cooked egg 63 and topped with chives and crispy small dice of croutons – this was done with a quail egg which is far superior to a regular egg as the yolk remains runny and the white congeals nicely. I do love the slate presentation and I am stealing this idea!

purchased slate for presentation at home

Cotton Candy Foie Gras – absolutely spectacular – eat this in one bite and the cold foie gras terrine rolled in corn nuts with the sweet cotton candy is a marriage made in heaven.

American Caviar Blini – Crème fraîche, steamed buns and lemon air topped with caviar – another one bite wonder

BYO White Wine

Acorn-fed, free-range Ibérico ham —- Jamon Iberica de Bellota Fermin – – this ham is extraordinary and worth the extravagance – much better when shared by 4. It is served with Catalan style toasted La Brea baguette with tomato – you are suppose to eat the ham separately from the bread; a custom my husband ignores.

Brussel Sprouts – Lemon purée, apricots, grapes, lemon air – never in a million years would I have ordered this dish, but this was an add-on for our gluten-free friend. Perfect.

Japanese taco – BBQ eel, shiso leaf, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron – The cucumber functioned as the wrapper and the eel was sushi bar spectacular. The chicharron (the skin of the pork)  were deep fried and served as the crunchy topping for the eel.

Sautéed shrimp, garlic, guindilla pepper, parsley puree – perfectly cooked shrimp with perfect saucing – we inhaled this dish and then immediately asked for bread to sop up the sauce

BYO White Wine

Croquetas de pollo – Chicken and béchamel fritters – an old favorite

Sauteed Cauliflower “Couscous” – Cauliflower purée, harissa, lemon, fried quinoa – this was another add-on for our gluten-free friend. I honestly don’t remember the saucing, but the cauliflower itself resembled couscous with a crunch from the quinoa

Tuna ceviche avocado roll – Jicama, micro cilantro, coconut dressing – another nod to Asian cuisine

Not your everday Caprese  – cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella, air-bread cubes, pesto, Jimenez reduction, olive oil, tomato impregnated baby basil – this is a must order dish

Stuffed piquillo peppers, goat cheese – another add-on and what a surprise – we ordered another round – enough said

2 Bottles of BYO Red Burgundy – no pictures

Foie Gras – Quince, toasted brioche sandwiches – another old favorite

“Philly Cheesesteak”- air bread filled with oozing cheddar cheese and topped with Wagyu Beef – I just love this dish and make it a point to order it every single time.

Butifarra Senator Moynihan, Catalan pork sausage, white beans, mushrooms – and a third old favorite

Beef hanger steak piquillo pepper confit and natural jus – I didn’t taste this, but the plate was licked clean

Traditional Spanish Flan – Vanilla and fruit

Dark Chocolate Cake– caramel and vanilla

I don’t have a clue

The Bottom line – go for the food, not the scene. Go early. Don’t treat this as a Chinese restaurant and order 5 dishes at a time. The servers are knowledgeable and more than willing to help you compose a leisurely “tasting” menu. Just go.


Wilshire – West Los Angeles

Wilshire restaurant is our “find” restaurant of the year. I am still in shock that this wonderful restaurant is so close to home and I could kick myself for what I have been missing all these months. We love the patio area and with the heat lamps and the flaming hot pots (pictured), there is no issue with being cold.

Another view of the patio.

Wonderful Chef Andrew Kirschner

BYO White Wine

Torched seared hamachi, yuzu rind, shiso leaf, bonito flakes, ponzu sauce- each element needed to be eaten together – delicious with sushi grade hamachi

Octopus and Seaweed salad. Enoki mushrooms, pickled gobo root, chili lime vinaigrette – there were 4 different kinds of seaweed – my first thought was with Chef Andrew in the kitchen who needs a sushi bar.

Miso marinated black cod, sticky rice, micro cilantro, nori- another Asian influenced fish – it is as if Chef Andrew read my mind and did many of my favorite dishes.

Tai Snapper from New Zealand with a crust of panko and rice flower that had been lightly fried in soy oil, shisito peppers, king trumpet mushrooms and a citrus soy dipping sauce. Usually this is served as the whole snapper, but Chef Andrew created a tasting portion – perfectly balanced and not a hint of grease

BYO Red Wine

Grilled Kurobota pork loin, green garlic polenta, brussel sprouts, braised apple, ham hock cider jus – this was not exactly a tasting menu portion of meat – the stars of the dish though were the brussel sprouts and the polenta. Let it be noted that John is a non veggie type of person and he declared the brussel sprouts the best he has ever tasted.

Sonoma duck, pea tendrils, hazelnuts, kumquats and kumquat gastric – a well-balanced combination of flavors

Colorado lamb rack, roasted caulflower, golden raisin couscous, fennel salad, lamb jus – Chef Andrew’s accompaniments to a main protein are just perfect – the couscous was perfect

Roaring Fourties Blue cheese from Australia and Cave Aged Marisa sheep cheese from Wisconsin – nice presentation and a perfect ending with the last of the red wine.

So many items on Wilshire’s menu sound appealing. I think, next time, and there will definitely be a next time, I will have Chef Kirschner front load the menu with appetizers, particularly the seafood and the fish in tasting menu portions i.e. the kumamoto oysters, the grilled sepia, the hamachi collar, the red curry mussels, the pumpkin ravioli and the steak tartare but I wouldn’t want to forgo the miso black cod, the thai red snapper, the octopus seaweed salad or the torched hamachi. My advice – just let the Chef create a menu. I’m ready to go now.

Blue Plate Oysterette

O.K. I am a sucker for raw oysters and fried clams with the bellies. We tend to order our favorites and not mess with a good thing.

The room – casual

Ale for John

Champagne for me

Oysters – Wellfleet, Island Creek, Fanny Bay, Del Sol

Fish Tacos – grilled mahi mahi, cilantro aioli, diced tomatoes, guacamole

Fried Clams – Whole Belly Ipswich Clams, fried lemons, preserved lemon aioli – I have this nailed down to ordering a half order and when I have finished the first half asking them to fire the second half

Second half of fried clams

It’s not Neptune’s Oyster in Boston, but it is the best fried clams that I have found in Los Angeles.

Bar Bouchon

We love going to Bar Bouchon around 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon. The ambiance is casual, the food is excellent and the service perfect. What more can one ask for?

I will just let the photos tell the story as I have posted about Bar Bouchon numerous times. The purpose of this latest post is to show that consistency is the key to a meal at Bar Bouchon.

White wine bought from their list

Kushi Oysters

Tartare of blue eye tuna, haricot verts, strains of seaweed, gribiche sauce (capers, cornichons, shallots, champagne vinegar, mayo) with won ton crisps flecked with black sesame seeds

Caponata with Grilled Garlic Toast

Quiche Florentine

BYO Red Wine

Escargots de Bourgogne – marinated snails in garlic-parsley butter and puff pastry

New York Steak and Blue Cheese Tartine with Caramelized Onions

Boudin Noir – blood sausage with potato puree and caramelized apples

Stefan’s on Montana

Stefan Richter was a top chef runner-up. We decided to try his new casual restaurant Stefan’s on Montana for brunch. They have no liquor license so it is BYO only. I am not clear how they get away with charging $10.00 for corkage, though!

BYO Champagne

The room is small – think simple, rustic and bare bones

House Benedict – egg whites only, spinach, avocado, olive oil based tomato hollandaise, breakfast potatoes, mixed greens salad – I wanted to stay light as this was to be a weekend of “heavy dining.” Nice.

Classic Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon, breakfast potatoes, mixed green salad – egg yolk was runny and the appropriate temperature. However, a very, very stingy portion of hollandaise. John had to ask for 3 additional servings.

Bottom line: a nice, casual neighborhood  place to grab a quick bite.

Langham – The Dining Room

Chef Michael Voltaggio has been very busy. He won Bravo’s Top Chef – Season 6. He helmed a one-night-only Hatchi guest chef event at BreadBar Restaurant in Century City, he was opening chef at Bazaar and now he is chef de cuisine at the Langham. I was looking forward to this meal with great anticipation as I had loved my meal at Breadbar.

My write-up on Chef Voltaggio’s Hatchi series here:

It is with great sadness that I can’t recommend the Dining Room at Langham. There are three reasons for this feeling – the lack of internal harmony in the tasting menu, the lack of editing of what is served and finally the main protein was sometimes being executed poorly in favor of the bells and whistles of the accompaniments.

We were shown menus, but told that Chef Voltaggio had orchestrated a special tasting menu. I have a definite bias about tasting menus. There has to be a rhyme and reason to a tasting menu and not just a collection of dishes, even wow dishes. For me, a great tasting menu tells a story, has an internal structure that flows from one dish to the next. In fact, a great tasting menu doesn’t have one A+ dish after another – I think I would be exhausted after that type of meal. It would be like watching a play that was a series of climaxes. My favorite restaurants for a tasting menu  are Manresa, FL and Urasawa. There is a subtle progression of tastes, textures, style, a story. For example, one of our meals at FL ended with matsutake mushrooms with small thin slices of kobe beef in a matsutake bouillon broth. This was our final savory course – it was so satisfying – a denouement instead of a climax. We had a lot of rich courses and this was more a Japanese soup ending course that warmed the soul and didn’t overwhelm. Basically, I hate a tasting menu of the chef’s greatest hits. It would be like reading the greatest sentences from numerous sources – “to be or not to be” followed by it was ‘the best of times and the worst of times.”

Chef Voltaggio essentially sent out dishes listed on the menu – one prep for me and one for John – he included every fish dish on the menu, the 2 foie preparations and 4 meat courses – there was no story, no internal harmony.

The Langham used to be a Ritz Carlton. It is set on 23 acres and the grounds are beautiful.

The Langham

The Japanese garden

The Dining room – in a couple of months this will be refurbished – as of now, it is stuffy and stodgy

Josh Goldman – their excellent sommelier

We had brought quite a bit of wine as this was a birthday celebration and Josh had thoughtfully orchestrated everything.

BYO Krug

Amuse – Powdered parfait of bagels and lox – the white was the cream cheese, the salmon color the salmon and the brown the bagel – this was clever, but not exactly satisfying.

Sourdough and a Bacon Roll – excellent

From left to right echire butter from France, Goat cheese butter and butter from Vermont

Langoustine, White Asparagus, Calamari Crackers, Squid Ink, Bouillbaisse bisque, Tiny Eggs – Chef Michael needs an editor – too many components in one dish. This was to be a recurrent theme throughout the evening. The bisque was exquisite and I could have eaten a full soup bowl of that with some shellfish – just too much going on.

Japanese Shima Aji, Jamon Iberico, Sea Sponge. Borage Flowers, Wasabi, Finger Lime – In retrospect I should have eaaten the Shima Aji with the wasabi and lime and then the sea sponge with the ham – eaten as a one bite, the ingredients became lost.

Truffle Brioche to be eaten with the goat’s milk butter

Foie Gras Frito – the foie had been deep fried in hot oil and served with celery puree, Medjool date and mustard sabayon – this was a definite winner.

Another absolute winner. In fact the two foie dishes were the stars of the evening – Foie gras terrine, minus 8 vinegar, wild strawberries, wild rice, strawberry espelette, arugula garnish – the texture contrasts were exquisite plus the foie was handled perfectly.

BYO White Wine

Skate wing, scrambled cauliflower, chives, brown butter powder and sauce, caper powder – so much effort seemed to be put into the accoutrements that the main protein i.e. the skate was executed poorly – dry and basically inedible.

Braised Octopus, Buttered popcorn puree, Piquillo confetti, cilantro – what could have been a good dish was destroyed by the octopus being as tough as rubber.

Tasmanian Sea Trout, Hibiscus Air, Porcini crisp, mushrooms, pink peppercorns – edit, edit, edit

Mediterranean Sea Bass, mussel billi-bi sauce, quinoa, seaweed mashed potatoes – this was a very clever way of introducing the sauce – it was in the deep-fried ball in the middle

BYO Red Wine

Kurobuta Pork Belly, Bok Choy “Kim Chi”, Kabocha Squash Preserves, Pumpkin seed oil, ground peanut – again a lot going on with the main protein, the pork belly being not crisp and as a result overly fatty

Church and State’s cassoulet with perfect pork belly

Pastrami Pigeon, sauerkraut gelee, gruyere cheese crisp, mustard greens, rye sauce – I was really looking forward to this dish but the heaviness of the “tasting menu” was overwhelming

Lamb shoulder confit, tomato and coconut milk, chickpea cake, blossom leaf, Coffee cardamom soil – another case of must editing with the lamb getting lost in a sea of ingredients.

Milk-Fed sliced Veal breasts, veal rib eye, dried broccoli, broccoli puree, tagliatelle – tasteless veal

At this point, we decided to call it quits. I don’t know if Chef Mike had decided on more meat so we would end up eating everything from the menu. I just couldn’t do it. I was sadly disappointed that more care hadn’t been devised for a tasting menu and that more care hadn’t been addressed to execution, particularly with regard to the main protein.


John – The Roving Reporter “posting”

Simon has descended on Los Angeles. He is the ultimate bon vivant, the most knowledgeable on anything meant to be eaten and one of the wittiest characters  I know. We decided to go to the best deli in town–Langers in the McArthur Park Area, 7th and Alvarado…it has always been terrific.

I start salivating when I see the sign.

The Menu

The must order – #19 – it has been my favorite since I started devouring it in 1971.

Chopped liver…not quite as good as Lizziees (My editorial comment is that I add more chopped up hard-boiled egg plus lots of chicken fat)

THE # 19 sandwich – Pastrami, Swiss Cheese, Coleslaw, Russian style dressing on unbelievably good rye bread

chocolate shake

We decided to go to Musso and Frank after lunch on the subway.

Mural in the McArthur Park station

Unfortunately Musso and Frank was closed so we headed to the Roosevelt Hotel.

Roosevelt Hotel

Martini for Simon, Blended marguerita for me

What a wonderful day.

More on Langers here: