Archive for the ‘Beverly Hills’ Tag

Chicken Worth its Wait   2 comments

bouchonplate

Bouchon Bistro used to only offer fried chicken dinners once a month. Reservations filled within minutes; sometimes it felt like having one wrong lottery number. Now the odds are a little better: the crispy fried chicken in Thomas Keller’s restaurant is served twice monthly.

Although, the regular menu is available, I have to wonder why anyone would consider it. The sides, aren’t always the same, but by all accounts the chicken has a consistently high wow factor. Recently, the meal included fork-crushed potatoes, pole bean salad and Parker House rolls. The chicken is the star of the night. Plump from soaking in a lemon/herb brine for more than 12 hours, it’s deep-fried for a coating that shatters as soon as it meets your lips.bouchonchix

(Keller has numerous dining establishments. He’s authored several cookbooks, including Ad Hoc at Home featuring the fried chicken recipe. The description of the process and lengthy list of ingredients intrigued me, so last winter I tried it. It was good to know that, with fortitude and lots of time, the chicken can be made at home very close to what Bouchon serves. Keller also edits Finesse, a beautifully-designed magazine with articles celebrating the beauty of kitchens: design, cooking, gadgets and techniques.)

bouchonchick

Back to that chicken, it’s juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside for the perfect combination of texture and taste: buttermilk, rosemary and thyme. The bean salad in bacon vinaigrette, although flavorful, wasn’t as stellar as the creamy potatoes and rolls; even with a chicken-only meal I’d feel like a winner.

Bouchon Bistro
Five Plates
235 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, Calif.

Cool at Spago   Leave a comment

spagopasta

Trust me, it’s not easy acting cool. I was tested twice in Spago when my eyes landed on Wolfgang Puck as we entered the dining room. Walking past him was one thing, but having him stop by our table to shake hands was more of a stretch. Although I wanted my picture taken with him, I worked on my nonchalance, and had a wonderful meal, albeit one sans photograph.

An early birthday lunch hosted by my mother was the occasion. This was my first visit, so I could not make any pre-renovation comparisons. The restaurant had been closed for several months. The new look is warm and modern. The menu is daunting in its variety – and price. The dining experience, from flavor profiles to service, from plating to ambiance, demonstrates Spago deserves its high praises.

spagosalad

We started with Agnolotti, small ravioli-like pasta filled with pea puree which tasted like spring and featured a light cream sauce and fresh peas. I ordered Lobster Salad, an ultra-Cobb featuring lobster tail, hard-boiled egg so finely diced it looked confetti, avocado, bacon, several varieties of cherry tomatoes, chives and a mix of lettuces; the parts were certainly equal to the sum.

spagoweiner

Weiner Schnitzel, a signature dish, remains on the menu, and for good reason. It’s a large, thin cut of breaded bliss. Lemon-butter cold potato salad provided an additional burst of gusto.

spagosemifreddo

Dessert further elevated the meal: Semifreddo, with fresh and dehydrated strawberries, Thai basil and shortbread, a balanced, refreshing sweet/savory combination. By meal’s end, being cool no longer mattered.

Spago
Five Plates
176 N. Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, Calif

In the Chef’s Hands   Leave a comment

Although I know the difference between good manners and bad, I wanted to throw
that wisdom out the door at Scarpetta. I enjoyed an early birthday present from
my mother and a dear friend where we ordered the four course tasting menu. I want-
ed to lick each plate clean after every single serving, but etiquette prevailed.

With the tasting menu we put ourselves at the chef’s mercy – and generosity. To be-
gin: Crudo of Sashimi and Yellowtail with ginger oil. Both sang in my mouth. A prawn-
stuffed, deep-fried Zucchini Blossom followed. We received two extra courses. The
first, a plate of Braised Short Ribs served on a bed of farro. The tender meat was smooth
as butter on a warm day. Scarpetta is known for its Spaghetti, which was served next.
It sounds pedestrian; yet, with a sauce of reduced fresh tomatoes and basil, this was
perhaps the most perfect al dente pasta I’ve eaten.

While enjoying the spaghetti, a server brought another extra, Agnotti. These small pasta
pouches were stuffed with reduced short rib marrow and drizzled with browned butter.
At this point it might seem the entrée would have been overkill, but it wasn’t. Black Cod
over roasted fennel and tomato was another taste spectacular.

Perhaps having dessert was too much, but it was wonderfully over the top. An assort-
ment of flavors and textures arrived on one plate featuring Caramel Budino, Pineapple
Panna Cotta, Chocolate Molten Cake, and Hazlenut Gelato.

I was sated and too well-mannered to moan in delight.

Scarpetta
Five Plates
225 N. Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA