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Archive for the ‘Wolfgang Puck’ Tag

A Table for Everyone   1 comment

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In a way I’d love to frequent a place often enough that I’d be known, if not by name, perhaps by where I liked to sit or what I ordered. Colman Andrews recounts the numerous places around the world where this is the norm for his dining experiences. In My Usual Table: A life in Restaurants, Andrews shares his earliest recollections as a child dining in many of the landmark eating establishments in the Los Angeles area. As a kid he, with his family, was a regular at Chasen’s, the Brown Derby and Musso & Frank Grill (only the latter remains today).

Where does one go from there? Apparently, everywhere. Andrews grew up to be a wine connoisseur, dining critic and co-founder of Saveur magazine. He’s also authored several cookbooks.

My Usual Table is an eat and tell memoir with casual and not-so-casual name dropping: Wolfgang Puck, Ruth Reichl, Alice Waters, among others. Some meals are described vividly, some barely mentioned while he focuses on those associated with the meals. What’s most fun is following Andrews’ time line, which precedes, for example, the farm-to-table concept to the present.

Andrews is a fine story teller, but his voice begins to wear thin about 2/3 through. It’s difficult consuming and digesting such rich, often heavy fare for too long. I enjoy dining out, but there’s nothing like a home cooked meal or an occasional burger for basic sustenance. I’m happy, afterall, to have my usual table be in my own dining room.

My Usual Table: My Life in Restaurants
Three-and-a-half Bookmarks
Ecco, 2014
311 pages

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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