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XIV--Short review, no pics.

Glad you liked your experience. I thought the bread was delicious too, but we got naan instead of grilled pita bread.

Interesting that nobody in your party liked the mozzarella ice milk, I didn't think it was salty, more of a tangy flavor.

Complete review with photos: http://tangbro1.blogspot.com/2008/10/...

Oct 28, 2008
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

LA TERZA

We had a similarly poor experience. When my party arrived, we could see the staff seemed a bit overwhelmed and the hostess seemed exasperated while greeting us. In general, I got this sense of mild hostility from the waitstaff when they walked past us, as if the last thing they needed was more guests.

We were seated on time and the first course came out fairly promptly. Then came a couple of errors that kept us waiting for over an hour for the Hamachi Crudo. First the server only brought two portions, and after a brief discussion with some other staff members they took those two portions away. Next they brought out 4 portions, but of the wrong course; they brought us the scallops rather than the Hamachi. Finally they got it right and brought out 4 servings of the hamachi.

After apologizing to us, the staff promised us a surprise for our troubles. We received no such surprise unless it was the fact that the rest of the dinner was served without issue and seeing some of the posts that might just be the case.

Part of the way through our impromptu hour long break, I felt like I was trapped in an episode of Hell's Kitchen. I swear at any moment I expected an omniscient narrator to start commenting on the delay. Based on the responses here my experience was not an isolated incident. I understand this was a special occasion, but I expected more from the service.

Tangbro1
-http://tangbro1.blogspot.com/

Sep 23, 2008
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

5x5 Chefs Collaborative Dinner @ Anisette Brasserie

I don't know if the guest chef has been decided yet. Nobody I spoke to knew the answer.

Jul 11, 2008
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

5x5 Chefs Collaborative Dinner @ Anisette Brasserie

Good news for all of those foodies who have been enjoying this year's 5x5 Chef's Collaborative dinners and were saddened to see the dinner at Bastide canceled; the hostess at Melisse mentioned a new 5x5 dinner was being added at Anisette Brasserie to replace Bastide.

The staff at Anisette confirmed the dinner is expected to be sometime in October, but the exact date has not been worked out. I was told to ask about reservations in September.

Jul 10, 2008
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

5x5 Chefs Collaborative Dinner @ Melisse with Photos

The salmon was definitely incredible. I actually wasn't that impressed my first time at Providence but after two excellent courses during the 5x5s I will definitely be giving the restaurant another shot.

I think Cyrus has a couple strong courses although I was pretty drunk at the dinner so my memories are pretty suspect.

Here is my post on Cyrus with pictures: http://tangmeister.com/cyrus/

Jul 09, 2008
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

5x5 Chefs Collaborative Dinner @ Melisse with Photos

The second in the 2008 5x5 Chefs Collaborative Dinner Series was held at Mélisse Restaurant. I made reservations for this dinner the day after the 5x5 Dinner at Providence and I am glad I did. We arrived thirty minutes early for our 9:00PM reservation and were told they would be seating true to time. The restaurant was totally packed we couldn't even wait at the bar because they were seating diners there. I noticed at Providence all the chefs came out at regular intervals to greet guests, this seemed less frequent at Mélisse and I expect it was because they were busy in the kitchen.

Sadly one of our dining companions could not join us this evening. One of my other companions ended up ordering a Mojito in his place. The drink was quite good with a nice even balance of mint and sweet citrus notes. I went with a Tom Collins after they told me they couldn't make a Cucumber Gimlet. The Collins was quite stiff with a strong taste of juniper berries and fresh lemon, quite refreshing.

Grape - Goat Cheese, Pistachio Crumbs
It wouldn't be a meal at Mélisse if it didn't begin with something covered in goat cheese and pistachio. The mix of flavors tantalizes the tongue and hints at future delights coming presently.

Amuse: Caviar - Crème d'Oursin, Abalone
Chef Josiah Citrin, Mélisse Restaurant
A delicious amuse, combining caviar, abalone, sea urchin cream, and lobster geleé. Given all the ingredients were from the ocean, I thought they worked very well together. The sea urchin cream was rich with just a hint of sweetness. Meanwhile the lobster geleé had the subtle richness of lobster. The caviar provided a saltiness that was balanced by the softer flavors of the geleé and cream. Lastly the abalone added a nice snappy texture to the mix. I found it interesting both the 5x5 dinners had a sea urchin cream in the amuse, but that may just be coincidence.

01: Seared Hamachi - Spinach Gomae, Chilled Shoyu-Konbu Broth
Chef Douglas Keane, Cyrus Restaurant
Champagne Bruno Paillard, Brute Rosé, 'Première Cuvee', Reims
Easily the best cooked hamachi I have ever had. Hamachi is one of my favorite fishes to eat raw, I really like the clean oiliness. Previously when I tried the cooked fish, I found it dry and flavorless as if the oil had all been cooked out. This was ever so lightly seared, giving the oils a fuller flavor that I quite enjoyed. The heaviness of the oils is balanced by a light tartness in the spinach. The wine was a nice dry rosé with a bit of berry on the nose, very similar on the palate with maybe a hint of minerality.

02: Maine Lobster Cannelloni - Summer Truffles, Lobster Sauce
Chef Gino Angelini, Osteria Angelini and La Terza
2004 Château de Beaucastel, Coudoulet Blanc, Rhone Valley
This was such a decadent course, lobster and truffles. Sadly the execution was a bit flawed. The texture of the lobster was overly soft although I did enjoy the flavor of the truffles combined with the lobster sauce. The wine had quite a bit of stony minerality and steel notes, with high acidity and some tart fruit.

03: Grilled Columbia River King Salmon - Baby Artichokes, Spring Onions, Neuskes Bacon, Sauce Vin Rouge
Chef Michael Cimarusti, Providence Restaurant
2002 Pinot Noir, 'Burlenberg', Marcel Deiss, Alsace
I have a hard time picking between this and the hamachi as the course of the night. The salmon was cooked very rare with the skin baked to a crisp. The wine sauce was a mix of 70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% port, slightly sweet and accenting the distinctive character of the salmon wonderfully. The wine was a very complex pinot, plenty of leather along with some spice and earth, maybe a bit of black cherry, definitely not easy drinking.

04: Suckling Pig - Lentils du Puy, Soft Egg, and Endive
Chef Walter Manzke
2004 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 'Les Olivets', Roger Sabon, Rhone Valley
The pork was so tender and flavorful (fatty) I felt guilty for eating it even as my eyes glazed over with pleasure. The egg was lightly cooked and breaking the egg caused a rich layer of yolk to flow over every bit of the pork, the two together tasted very much like what breakfast must taste like in heaven. The lentils felt superfluous, as if they were only there to tone down the intensity of the pork and egg. The CDP was very fruit forward with lots of raspberry and cherry with soft tannins and a little bit of spice and earth, probably my favorite of the night.

05: Millbrook Venison - Pistachio Puree, Macerated Cherries, Rye-Caraway Bread Pudding and Allspice Venison Jus
Chef David Lefevre, Water Grill
2001 Vérité, La Muse, Sonoma County
This course just didn't really do much for me. I typically find venison too lean and this was no different although it was quite tender. In addition the meat had a gaminess than lingered on the tongue that I found quite unpleasant. The sauce was very dark and earthy, also drawing on many of the same flavors that are in the venison. The wine as a very old-world style blend, well-balanced with a good amount of fruit on the nose with some tobacco, really firm tannins, quite complex.

06: Rosemary Scented Regeir Farms Peach - Mousse de Lait, Mélisse Sorbet
2003 Riesling, Kabinett, Abstberg, Maximum Grünhäuser, Mosel
I don't know why the peach headlined this dessert. I felt most of the flavor came from the citrus (I think lime) sorbet. Which sat atop a sweet sticky cookie. The rolled crisp was filled with a mousse that tasted intensely of condensed milk, which provided a very rich foil for the peach. The wine paired with this was a Kabinett that I have enjoyed many times although never with dessert. The wine is quite sweet for a Kabinett with lots of young fruit, peach and apple along with some minerals.

Petits Fours - Chocolate Milk, Passionfruit Chocolate, White Chocolate with Basil
The chocolate milk was a nice break from the plethora of chocolates or pastries usually presented to close out the meal. Cool and thick with a velvety texture that coats the mouth in a layer of pure chocolate flavor. The two chocolates were quite good as well. The passionfruit filling inside the chocolate was really powerful a wonderful explosion of flavor. The basil was not quite as bold but still quite delicious. I'd much rather have one or two chocolates of this caliber than a full plate of mediocre sweets.

Another excellent dinner, I really love this format because it allows each chef to pour their creativity into a single dish. After enjoying this dinner, I am even sadder about the Bastide cancellation although there were some mentions of a new fifth restaurant being added. I called the restaurant in question but the hostess hadn't heard anything. She suggested I talk to the manager in the morning. Until then I will refrain from getting anyone's hopes up.

For the review with photos: http://tangbro1.blogspot.com/2008/07/...

Jul 09, 2008
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

TRU Review with Photos

Tru was the one restaurant I really wanted to go, but missed out on during my first food trip to Chicago. When I finally did go I was pleased I waited because they recently introduced a Sommelier's Collection where the wines have at least equal importance.

The Sommelier's Collection has one more course than the Chef's Collection which my girlfriend went with

The Sommelier's Collection:
Amuse: Jasmine-Scented Pear - Fennel Parmigiano-Reggiano, Smoked Paprika
01 SC: Grape Geleé - Crab Salad, Cucumber, Honeysuckle
02 SC: Veal Sausage - Sunchoke Cream, Celery, White Peppercorn
03 SC: Pheasant Consommé - Pomegranate Geleé, Cote De Brouilly
04 SC: Pork Belly - Corn Pudding, Granny Smith Apple, Pickled Leeks
05 SC: Hot and Cold King Oyster Mushroom - Avocado, Grapefruit, Caviar
06 SC: Smoked Bass - Carrot Pureé, Harissa Panisse
07 SC: Venison - Blood Orange, Cocoa, Condensed Black Olive
08 SC: Bison Ribeye - Smoked Paprika, Blackberry, Parsnip, Malabar Spinach
09 SC: Duet of Brillat Savarin
10 SC: Red Wine Sorbet - Passionfruit Caramel, Plantain Chip
11 SC: White Chocolate Mille-Feuille - Apricot, Lychee, Strawberry, Cinnamon
Mignardises and Lollipops

The quality of the food seemed to vary wildly from dish to dish, with the standouts being the Pheasant Consommé, Pork Belly, and Bison and the low points being the Smoked Bass and Venison. Overall I enjoyed the Sommelier's pairing even though I thought the execution was a bit off.

The complete review with photos and a description of the Chef's Collection can be found here: http://tangbro1.blogspot.com/2008/05/...

Jun 05, 2008
tangbro1 in Chicago Area

Carlos' Restaurant Review

One of the few fine dining restaurants open on Sunday, Carlos scored very well on both Zagat and Gayot, but something about the menu always put me off, it just looked a bit too simple for the lofty reviews it received. However lacking any other option, I decided to try the restaurant on my last visit.

One thing I did like is like is the trio of tasting menus because more courses is always a plus for me. I ordered the meat and game menu and my girlfriend went with the seafood and fish.

01: Grilled California Squab Breast: This was like a squab on top of a quiche. I actually felt there was a bit too much going on in this dish with the buttery tart and earthy mushrooms moderating the natural flavor of the squab.
02: Pan Seared Duck and Duck Confit with Hudson Valley Foie Gras: This dish was a bit overcooked, the foie gras had a bitter burnt taste and that carried over to the duck. Another very heavy dish with the foie gras and duck confit.
03: Grilled Lamb Chop with Ox-Tail Ravioli: A very nice lamb chop tender and full flavored with the slightest bit of gaminess. The oxtail ravioli had an entirely different feel very fatty and heavy, the slow cooked meat almost melts in your mouth.
04: Cocoa Crusted New Zealand Venison This was my second time having venison and cocoa in as many days and I am sad to say it wasn't any better than the first.
05: Grilled Ribeye
A fairly disappointing Ribeye, extremely lean and tough almost like a New York steak. The sides sides were fairly typical and the sauce masked the natural taste of the meat.
06: Symphony of Dessert A fairly plain trio of desserts although tasty enough. There was a small creme brulee, chocolate tuiles with mint filling, and some sort of chocolate cake.

Overall I felt the food was solid, if a bit uninspired for a restaurant in the company of giants like: Alinea, Charlie Trotter, and Tru. I get the feeling the restaurant had a loyal following that are swayed by the charismatic host/owner, Carlos and are willing to forgive a few missteps with the food.

For a full review with the seafood menu and photos: http://tangbro1.blogspot.com/2008/05/...

Jun 05, 2008
tangbro1 in Chicago Area

Charlie Trotter's Review with Pictures

You sound like quite the foodie.

My girlfriend and I went to Alinea the night before we went to CT, if we had another night we would have done TRU or Moto. Alinea was defintely an interesting experience, but there were some courses that we didnt enjoy, its to be expected with 25 courses. We preferred CT because we enjoyed each dish no matter how simply it was prepared. I thought CT gave French Laundry a run for its money, both use the sous vide cooking style which I really enjoy.

You can check out my Alinea, and FL reviews at www.tangmeister.com

May 25, 2007
tangbro1 in Chicago Area

Go's Mart Review with Pictures

The hype is starting to grow and I think it is definitely worth a try. It should be no problem being satisfied by the a la carte menu and you can always order specials off the board later.

I really enjoyed the kue but be warned I think it comes with the truffle oil and shiso by default.

May 23, 2007
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

French Laundry Review with Pictures

Yeah I did see that and we suggested it for our friend who didn't drink alcohol but sadly he stuck to his complimentary diet coke.

Go's Mart Review with Pictures

Not sure if they offer a sashimi plate. I am sure if you give them an amount you want to spend they can work with you to make a dinner you'll enjoy.

The prices are here if you can read them. http://tangmeister.com/gos_mart/Damag...

May 22, 2007
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

French Laundry Review with Pictures

The menu is 240, 18% service is included so all you need to add is tax. The minimal price will be around 260 plus whatever you want to spend on alcohol.

There are some items that have supplemental charges like foie gras.

We ended up paying $425 a person.

Charlie Trotter's Review with Pictures

Just got back from my Chicago trip and this was one of the three places I had to try. Charlie Trotter's is the name most synonymous with fine dining in Chicago and the restaurant earns every bit of this honor

My girlfriend and I had a 5:30 reservation which was a touch early, but we came to Chicago on a whim so we were happy to get anything.

The wait staff is polished and professional, well-heeled with easy smiles. I think around 5 different people worked together to bring food, clear plates, providing an extra pour of a favored wine and generally provide a seamless dining experience. They staff is knowledgeable as well, answering questions about the food, wine, and dining/visiting the Chicago area in general.

The decor of the restaurant was a touch simple to me. It did give a very homey feel along with a refined and older air. My girlfriend and I were definitely the youngest people in the dining room around us. Despite it all, I did not feel self-conscious.

The food here is excellent. We both had the Grand Menu, although we contemplated the Kitchen Table Menu. Having had a molecular gastronomy experience the night before, Trotters might seem a touch blase, but each dish that was presented to us tasted wonderful. The ingredients might not have included flavored air or liquid nitrogen, but Chef Trotter has a knack for pairing ingredients that work well together.

I mentioned to our server that I lamented not getting the Kitchen Table Menu and he was kind enough to have the kitchen create a special extra dish for us, Angus Beef.

The menu changes every night so it is difficult to predict how a return visit would be, but I am willing to bet no matter what day you go, you will leave with an unforgettable memory.

Would love to go back and get the kitchen table menu next time.

Full review with pictures at http://tangmeister.com/charlie_trotters/

May 21, 2007
tangbro1 in Chicago Area

Alinea Review with Pictures

Been wanting to try Alinea for a while now. Finally got the chance to go recently. I did the 24 course tour menu. Loved some dishes hated others but definitely will remember the experience for a long time.

Full review with pictures at www.tangmeister.com/alinea

May 21, 2007
tangbro1 in Chicago Area

Spago Review with Pictures

I had heard the hype and also heard the horror stories. My previous Wolfgang Puck experiences were downright abysmal, so I was apprehensive about this place.

I had read that the tasting menu was a vastly different experience from the standard menu. That reassured me enough to go ahead and take the plunge.

It was a brilliant experience. There had to be a reason Puck is one of the greatest celebrity chefs in our time and this is it. The food was magnificent, and the service sterling. The hostess was polite and the wait staff friendly and helpful. We even ended the night with a tour of the kitchen. Perhaps we were fortunate there were no celebrities or at least none in our immediate vicinity.

The meal started with 5 amuses:
Wolfgang's Signature Spicy Tuna Tartare in a Seasme-Miso Cone
House-Smoked Salmon on a Lemon-Herb Blini
Hamachi Ceviche
Oscetra Caviar Tart
Bacon Confit En Croute

The actual meal consisted of:
Cucumber Sorbet, with Orchid Oolong Ume Boche Plum Tea

Maryland Crab Duo: Crab and Avocado "Ravioli" with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette, and Sauteed Maryland Crab Cake with a Basil-Pesto Aioli

Sauteed White Asparagus, with Morel Mushrooms, Crayfish, and a Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Pan-Roasted Alaskan White Salmon with a Cilantro-Mint Raita, Chana Dahl Lentils, Eggplant Masala and Cucumber Chutney

English Pea and Mascarpone Agnolotti

Rabbit Duo: Herb Brioche Stuffed Loin and Rack "En Persillade"

Lacquered Carpenter Ranch Squab with Rhubarb Puree, Stir-fried Green Beans, and a Port-Licorice Reduction

This should have been the end of the meal but we requested an additional course. The waiter mentioned kobe beef then discovered they ran out for the evening. Rather than disappoint us, he went to their sister restaurant Cut and brought some back for us. Now thats service!

Grilled NY Steak of 100% Japanese Waygu Beef, with Wasabi-Pea Puree, and a Yuzu-Kocho Emulsion

Cheese: Dom Villas (Spanish Goat), Brillat Savarin (French Triple Cream), and Azul (Basque Blue)

Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart with Chocolate Sorbet

Petit Fours

Granted this spectacular service comes at a price. Our meal ended up being 300 a person, but if you want to try Spago this is the way to do it.

Full Review with Pictures is at: www.tangmeister.com/spago

May 21, 2007
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

Cyrus Review with Pictures

My friends and I went to Cyrus the night before we went to French Laundry. I was pretty impressed as was another of my dining party, but the other two members did not think much of the place.

We did the tasting menu and added the Thai Marinated Lobster, Chef Keane's signature dish.

If you go I highly recommend you try the cocktails they may be a touch adventurous but very unique.

Also the maitre'd Nick Peyton lavishes personal attention on each table and really does a lot to make every guest feel like he is the most important person in the restaurant.

Check out my full review with photos at www.tangmeister.com/cyrus

Go's Mart Review with Pictures

On the listed sushi menu, items run from 1.80 for scallop w/mayo to 4 for sea urchin, giant clam, and eel. Tuna, yellowtail, salmon are all $2 per piece.

Rolls run 5 for Cali to 7.5 for Rainbow

The specials like toro or kobe beef are a lot more.

May 21, 2007
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

French Laundry Review with Pictures

That is a good point I didn't consider. I know we spent a long time tasting the wine initially, but I thought we were able to set it aside and enjoy the food. I think I was underwhelmed by the Kobe beef because I had it in Japan

French Laundry Review with Pictures

Haha no thats the total cost for 4 with tax and tip included

Go's Mart Review with Pictures

One of my dining companions said the same thing.

I do feel Urasawa is better, but I wanted to try Go's Mart after everything I had heard.

May 21, 2007
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

Go's Mart Review with Pictures

I came here after a food binge including Cyrus and French Laundry and I was looking for a nice light dinner to round out the weekend.

My friends and I came at 5:30 since we wanted to get home at a reasonable time. Naturally we did the omakase with standout courses like sweet shrimp and king crab with uni; flounder sashimi; live scallop and uni; abalone; and shirako. Each and every dish was delicious. This place also has traditional luxuries like toro and Kobe beef. One warning: Go-san tends to add truffle oil to a lot of his dishes.

Some items on the menu reflect Go-san's quirky humor like the Holy Cow or the oddly (aptly?) named Stupid Roll because as Go-san says "I'm Stupid!"

This is definitely a restaurant that caters to a regular audience, aside from us, Go-san knew at least one member of all the other dining parties by name. It is almost as if he wants to keep the place secret to keep the riff-raff out. Sadly it is a touch far from Orange County or my friends and I would like to add ourselves to his exclusive list.

The final total came to $225 a head.

Full Review with Pictures can be found at: http://tangmeister.com/gos_mart/

May 20, 2007
tangbro1 in Los Angeles Area

French Laundry Review with Pictures

My friend secured reservations at French Laundry for 5/12.

We all did the extended chef's menu.

Among the standouts were the:
Oyster and Pearls "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Beau Soleil Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar
Moulard Duck "Foie Gras en Terrine" Tokyo Turnips, Pickled Ramps, Black Truffles, Garden Mache and Toasted Brioche
Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster Tail Belgian Endive, Jacobsen's Farm Green Almonds, Parsley Shoots and Passionfruit Butter
House-made Russet Gnocchi with Freshly Grated Truffle
Coffee and Doughnuts

For a full listing with pictures http://tangmeister.com/french_laundry/

Thanks again Kevin for getting the reservations.