From Eater LA:
“Where o’ where has David Haskell been hiding? Word on the street was Pasadena, now here are the details. Haskell has teamed up with producer Gale Anne Hurd to spiffy up her 3-year old Raymond Ave. wine bar/restaurant Vertical. Haskell has signed on as director of operations and “wine pimp” and will introduce new California-inspired menus for both the wine bar/lounge and the dining room. Naturally, the wine bar area will feature a selection of smaller plates, cheeses and charcuterie, with the full monty (multi-courses) available in the main dining room. In addition to a menu revamp, the restaurant itself will get a makeover. The interior of the bar/lounge and dining room is getting a wardrobe change to create a warmer, sexier atmosphere, and the open air courtyard on the ground level will be re-outfitted to look like an English garden (soon open for lunch and champagne brunch). No shocker, there have also been tweaks to the 400+ wine list and Haskell has expanded the by the glass offerings to nearly 80 selections.”
“Also coming into play are the wine flights. Haskell plans to offer five flights nightly with the option of a personally customized tasting experience based on one’s personal vino preferences. And if that wasn’t wine-centric enough, Vertical will introduce a series of weekly and monthly wine events begining in November with Wine Wednesdays (tasting/pairing class headed by Haskell) and monthly wine dinner beginning soon there after. [EaterWire]”
Doug Weston is the executive chef who after culinary school went first to Coffee Table Bistro, then as sous at Raymond’s, next at Joe’s in Venice, then NeoMeze and Oceanview Bistro. As executive chef at Vertical, he has found his “voice.”
I am not exactly an unknown to David Haskell as I am his mother. Obviously we just let David do his thing – he chose the menu and the wine pairings.
I didn’t see the space before the remodel, but the “after” is terrific.
The bar area:
The Dining Room
The skylight ceiling
Gruet Champagne to start
Not pictured – an amuse of roasted red peppers, walnuts, olive oil and lemon juice – a Harousse spread
All courses were splits – one for two
First Course – Rib Eye Carpaccio with orange segments, French breakfast radish, shallot, baby field greens, Lea and Perrins vinaigrette – the layering of flavors is a testament to Doug’s skill as a chef and what I meant when I said he has found his “voice.”
Wine for the second course
Tomato Fennel Soup – a cream based soup with shaved fennel, tomato concasse and seasoned with fines herbs (tarragon, parsley and cilantro) – Again it was the depth of flavor that elevated this dish from mundane to sublime.
Wine for the third course
Crab Cake, Cilantro puree, Chanterelles, Pickled Fennel Old Bay Cream – The crab was Blue Crab from Maine. Instead of using either bread crumbs or Mayonnaise as a binder, Doug used baby shrimp – clever and delicious. For those who forget what is in Old Bay it is celery salt, mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice (pimento), ginger, mace, cardamon, cinnamon and paprika. The surface of the crab cake had been lightly coated with bread crumbs for crunch. Without the heavy binding, this was light and delicious.
Beer for the Fourth Course
Niman Ranch Chorizo “pizza” – actually this was on flat bread with chorizo slices, Gryuere cheese, basil and tomato sauce – another winner
Wine for the fifth course
Escolar, Spinach pesto, Black-eyed peas, fin herb veloute – an interesting pairing of the black eye peas with the “meaty” escolar
Wine for 6th course
We next had a Cote de Beouf prepared tableside by David. The next series of photos shows the step by step preparation including the sides of potato puree and creamed mushrooms.
Cheese course – from left to right – Delices de Crerniers, Red cloud, Epoisse, Blue Vein Gamonedo – perfect cheese at the proper temperature
Creme Brulee – photo taken after we had eaten half
Obviously, I can’t be completely unbiased about this restaurant. Hopefully the photos tell the story. I know David would love to have you go to Vertical and spoil you.