Michael Voltaggio, the former Chef de Cuisine at The Bazaar by José Andrés and Executive Chef at The Dining Room at The Langham, and the winner of season six of Bravo’s Top Chef, opened his highly anticipated first restaurant in 2011 on a stretch of Melrose known more for its fashion than for its fare. Here at Ink, a minimally appointed space painted a shadowy shade of gray, Chef Voltaggio creates “modern Los Angeles cuisine” that marries molecular gastronomy with surprising flavor combinations and highly stylized plating.
Based on my lukewarm meals at both The Bazaar and The Dining Room, I wasn’t expecting the strongest showing at Ink. However, I was downright tickled to find that the food here was playful, beautiful, thoughtful, and very much delicious.
Diners can order family style from the a la carte menu, three to four dishes per person is recommended, or indulge in a four-course tasting plus dessert orchestrated by the kitchen. While the former allows for freedom, the latter features unique dishes not available on the a la carte menu. Since The Astronomer and I had plans for a second dinner later on, we went with the a la carte option.
We sat at the “sushi” counter this evening since we didn’t have advanced reservations, which provided stellar views of the chefs making modernist magic with liquid nitrogen and thermal immersion circulators. I highly recommend snagging a seat along the counter for dinner and a show.
Continue reading ‘Ink – Los Angeles (West Hollywood)’
Stepping into Eveleigh (pronounced “Everly”) last Sunday evening, The Astronomer and I were transported far from the Sunset Strip. With its decidedly rustic vibe and vintage touches, the restaurant felt like it was plucked off a Napa Valley vineyard and plopped down in bustling West Hollywood. The space had a charm about it that just wouldn’t stop.
An invite to Eveleigh’s first ever Sunday Supper was the reason for our visit. Upon arriving at the restaurant and checking in with the hostess, we were led to the back patio, where an expansive communal table was set. With spectacular views overlooking the city and the sun setting in the distance, the scene could not have been any more idyllic.
Windrose Farms, a small family farm located east of Paso Robles, provided all of the produce and proteins for this inaugural event. Bill Spencer, who owns the farm along with his wife Barbara, was on hand to educate diners about everything from biodynamic agriculture to the difference between a lamb and a hogget. The evening’s convivial spirit was reminiscent of the Outstanding in the Field dinner series.
Continue reading ‘Sunday Supper at Eveleigh – West Hollywood’
There’s a lot to love about Salt’s Cure. For starters, the kitchen makes everything from scratch. From the ketchup to the bagels, every little thing is sourced from within. Additionally, all of the produce, meat, cheese, wine, and beer comes solely from California. Salt’s Cure is committed to keeping food miles in check and highlighting the very best of the Golden State. To top it all off, the ambiance is laid back and the chefs crank out some really terrific food.
Owned and operated by chefs Christopher Phelps, Zachary Walters, and Naomi Shim, the restaurant offers a small menu that changes daily. In addition to the blackboard offerings, there’s always a diverse selection of smoked, cured, and pickled meat, fish, and vegetables to be had.
I’ve been wanting to dine at Salt’s Cure ever since I heard about its impressive charcuterie, but didn’t get a chance to do so until a few weeks ago. My friend Lien and I grabbed two seats at the bar facing the open kitchen for maximum chef swoonage. She’s a regular at the place, and we were treated like queens this evening.
To start, we dug into a tremendous plank of cured, smoked, and potted goodness. There was a silky pile of smoked halibut ($14) that Lien and I paired with bagel crisps and chive-flecked sour cream. The tender slices of beef round ($10) were eaten straight up or wrapped with a few sprigs of lightly dressed watercress.
Continue reading ‘Salt’s Cure – Los Angeles (West Hollywood)’
Chef Kris Yenbamroong opened Night + Market after spending years behind the stove at his parents’ decade-old Thai restaurant Talésai. Serving the same menu day in and day out, he grew a little antsy and desired an outlet to showcase a different side of Thai cuisine. When the space next door to Talésai became vacant, Chef Yenbamroong quickly snatched it up and transformed it into a dining room where the gritty street foods of Thailand’s night markets reigned supreme.
Now that he doesn’t have to worry about alienating Talésai’s longtime patrons, Chef Yenbamroong is finally able to serve food that personally inspires him in a space fitting of his style. Although, being the good son that he is, he still runs the kitchen at Talésai as well.
My friends Will and Brian, who have been dining here since it opened last November, recently coordinated a small dinner to introduce a couple of newbies to Chef Yenbamroong’s exciting concept. In order for us to fully experience Night + Market, the chef curated a tasting of his favorite dishes for us this evening. Everything was served family style, which properly captured the communal spirit of the place.
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As the head chef of Petrossian in West Hollywood, Benjamin Bailly (@ChefBenBailly) is encouraged by management to highlight caviar, foie gras, and smoked salmon in nearly all of his dishes. During a previous meal here, we were served an avalanche of fish eggs. Whether mounded atop little blinis or served in a fashionable tin with King crab meat, the amount of caviar gracing our table was enough to satisfy even the most demanding of Russian tsars.
While cooking with the world’s finest luxury products is hardly a chore, these ingredients tend to limit the kitchen’s range. At the encouragement of a trio of food-loving pandas [Kung Food Panda, Two Hungry Pandas], Chef Bailly exchanged his usual high-end creations for homey comfort foods during one evening in late August. For a single dinner service, the dishes coming out of Petrossian’s kitchen were no different than the ones served in the Chef’s home.
Dinner began with a glass of bubbly and two fried “snacks.” The buttermilk fried frogs legs were meatier than expected and expertly fried. The nearly equal ratio of meat to batter was definitely a plus. Laced with fresh tarragon and tart relish, the tartar sauce was a lovely complement.
The second “snack” to arrive was truffle pomme (potato) croquettes with parsley and Parmesan. The silky innards were spiked with truffle oil and enrobed in a golden crust. The standout texture reminded The Astronomer and me of the bitchin’ croquettas we hoovered up in Spain.
Continue reading ‘French Comfort Cuisine (and Poutine) by Chef Benjamin Bailly’