Monday, November 1, 2010

Hey there stranger (The Bazaar, Beverly Hills)

Hey there stranger.  It's been a long long time since I've seen you here on the web posting your food outings.  So much has changed....  The Lakers are back to back champions Smile and my little "Baby Gohan" is now a toddler.  Wow!  Having a toddler sure has changed this rice eating machine's life.  It's not like I haven't had the time to go out and eat, it's just that certain things are more important to me.  What?  More important than eating good food.....Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but being a father is more important than food blogging Surprised smile  Man I must be getting soft.  LOL.

Mr and Mrs Gohan don't like to abuse/over use our babysitters, so we like to spread out our fine dining outings.  But when Dine LA's Restaurant Week starts, we go for the gusto.  Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the other places I visited this year, but I did remember to bring my camera to The Bazaar by Jose Andres.  Good thing too.  I've been wanting to come here for quite some time now.  And this was the perfect opportunity.

LN2 Caipirinha 
Made tableside with Brazilian Cachaça, fresh lime and sugar with a twist by adding liquid nitrogen to give it that unique texture.  I couldn't resist myself by ordering this unique cocktail even if it cost me $20.  It did not disappoint! 

Olives:  Traditional & Modern

I'll be the first to admit that I am not an olive fan, but the Mrs. absolutely loves them.  But those who know me, know that I tend to let my inhibitions go and try dishes that I usually don't like at fine dining establishments.  And this was no exception.  I had to give it the good old college try.  I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and flavor of the modern "olive".  It had a unique texture and a burst of intense olive flavor.  I'm glad I tried it.

Jamón Serrano Fermin
The dry cured ham served with the Catalan style toasted bread with tomatoes was absolutely delicious.  My good friend was dead set on ordering a Jamón dish after seeing an episode of Anthony Bourdain.  LOL.  I think what really made this dish was the toasted bread with the tomatoes.  Yummy!

Cotton Candy Foie Gras
That's right you read it right and you are seeing what you are seeing.  Yes....cotton candy foie gras. Another intriguing dish that I couldn't resist.  Although I love foie gras, I usually don't like it prepared like a terrine, but this was the exception.  The sweetness of the cotton candy and the slight crunch of the crystals of the sugar married well with the saltiness and silkiness of the foie gras.  Pure decadence.

 Tortilla de Patatas
Oh me oh my.  Now this little dish made a HUGE impression on me.  Beautifully presented in a egg shell was potato foam, egg 63 (egg cooked sous vide at 63°C), and caramelized onions.  The flavors were outstanding.  I think we could've eaten a dozen of these.

 Embutidos Platter
This was a platter of Chorizo, Lomo (typically pork tenderloin), and Salchichon (a type of Spanish sausage).  In my opinion, this platter was good but I'm not enough of a connoisseur of cured meats to truly appreciate this dish.  Nothing really popped.  Everything was kind of one note to me.

"Philly Cheesesteak" & "Hilly Cheesesteak"
Apparently these are one of the more popular dishes at The Bazaar.  The "Philly Cheesesteak" is made with an air bread which had the cheese embeded on the inside and topped with wagyu beef.  These were nice and light and full of flavor.  I could've eaten more of these for sure.  The "Hilly Cheesesteak" was basically the same except the wagyu beef was substituted with mushrooms.  I could see why these are one of the more popular dishes.

Boneless Chicken Wings
I love chicken wings and this version did not disappoint. They were seasoned very well and heck, they were boneless.....less work for this lazy person.  LOL

Organized Caesar
 This was like a bite sized deconstructed Caesar Salad made with quail eggs and Parmesan cheese.  If there's one thing that Mrs Gohan loves to eat, it's Caesar Salads.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm pretty much anti green. I'm pretty much a carnivore.  LOL.  But Like I said before, when it comes to certain restaurants, I step out of my comfort zone and go for it.  I was pleasantly surprised!

Papas Canarias
Salted wrinkled potato with mojo verde.  Sounded good but I think this one was a miss.  It was just way too salty for my taste.  I ended up having to rub most of the salt off before I ate it.  I know in the description it said salty but this was just ridiculous.

"The Ultimate Spanish tapa"
Those were not my words!  With the name ultimate Spanish tapa, one would think this dish would've been out of this world considering how good everything else was that night.  It had a lot to live up to, but in my opinion this was the ultimate Spanish tapa fail!  This was my least favorite dish of the night by far. 

Sea Scallops
This dish not only sounded good, looked good, smelled good, but it tasted good too!  The scallops were perfectly cooked and basically melted in your mouth.  The Romesco sauce was very tasty and accentuated the scallops even more.  Bravo!

Croquetas de pollo
Another excellent dish.  Can't go wrong with fried food!  These chicken and bechamel fritters were nice and crispy on the outside and tasty on the inside.  They were not overly oily either.  One of the better dishes of the night.

Catalan spinach
This spinach dish was prepared with apples, pine nuts, and raisins.  Spinach happens to be one of the few vegetables that I actually enjoy, but to be honest I was a little skeptical with the combination of the other ingredients.  I was pleasantly surprised and thought that the pine nuts were actually what made this dish.

Beef hangar steak
Ahhh....beef!  Another one of my favorites of the night.  The meat was perfectly cooked to a medium rare and the piquillo pepper confit was full of flavor.  My only complaint was that the choice of beef....hangar steaks tend to be a little on the tougher side, although the taste was outstanding.

Sauteed Shrimp
The sauteed shrimp with garlic and guindilla peppers was another excellent dish.  It was well balanced and tasty for sure.  I thought that this dish was going to be more garlicky than it actually was.  In fact this dish was quite delicate and the shrimp really shined.

Wild mushroom rice
The wild mushroom rice was creamy and full of flavor.  The idiazabal cheese which is a type of sheep's milk added a little sharpness and complimented the earthiness flavors of the mushroom  My friend who usually doesn't like mushrooms was enjoying this dish quite a bit.  That's saying a make something that a person usually doesn't like and to transform it in to something that you really like speaks volumes.

Down to earth
This cocktail was made from mezcal del maguey, cynar, fresh lime and orange on an agave truffle bed.  However you want to describe it....there's no question that this cocktail packs a mean punch.  No wonder it's called down to earth. The strong taste of alcohol you'll be down on the ground.  Here's my friend trying to plug her nose to finish the drink.  Hahaha!  Too funny!

Traditional Spanish Flan
I'm not the biggest flan, but this was pretty good.  It wasn't overly sweet like many flans and I found it to be very creamy.  All in all, it was a very good flan

Creamy chocolate heart
I was a bit disappointed with this dessert.  I love chocolate desserts, but I found this one a bit dry and the cardamon was a bit over powering for my taste.  I have to say that the desserts were the weakest part of dinner, which is a bit saddening.  There's nothing like ending a good dinner with a good dessert.  Oh well.

Great friends and great food.  What a combination!  I know I've stated this before, but what is good food without good company?  Food is meant to be shared and it's more than just satisfying your stomach.  Dining out should be an entire experience beyond your pallet.  With that being said......The Bazaar did not disappoint.  Or in the words of my good friend "Bravo Jose Bravo."  LOL

The Bazaar by Jose Andres
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The end of fine dining train (Wolfgang's Steak House, Beverly Hills)

Sadly, this was the end of our fining dining train. It was steam rolling pretty good for 2 months. It all started at Comme Ca, then to Chaya Downtown, Craft Los Angeles, Spago Beverly Hills, and finally Wolfgang's Steakhouse. No....not that Wolfgang. This place is Wolfgang Zweiner's Steakhouse. I don't think we'll be hopping on a train like this again :( Unless, I win the Lottery. The first time we did something like this, was our food trip to New York. That trip started the birth of Mr. Gohan :) We were eating at all these 'fancy' restaurants that constructed beautifully put together dishes, but I was in the mood for a straight forward steakhouse. And that's what I got, good meat. All though this was the end, I guess all good things must come to an end.

I've been wanting to come here for a couple of years. Ever since I read someone's post on Chowhound. After reading more about this place I was very intrigued. Wolfgang Zweiner used to be the head waiter at the famed Peter Luger in Brooklyn. Having been to Peter Luger in New York, I was interested to see if Wolfgang's Steakhouse shared any resemblance. And I have to say, conceptually it seemed to be very similar except for the decor. Wolfgang's Steakhouse was much more modern and "Beverly Hillsish" :)

On this particular evening, me and the Mrs were dining with some friends who also share a passion for eating. We came during Dine LA and ate a 3 course meal for $44. When else can you eat Prime Grade steaks for so cheap. We were seated in the 'wine room', which I enjoyed very much. It seemed like we had our own private room. Although I walked away from this dinner enjoying the company of some friends and having my stomach full with very good steak, the night didn't get off to a good start. For one I forgot my camera again! I had to use my phone. Secondly, we all agreed that our waiter was terrible. His attention to detail and our needs were absent at best. Having been to many restaurants, one thing that brings down the impression of restaurants are the patron's impression of the wait staff. Having said that, I still enjoyed our night out. The food and company outweighed that terrible waiter.

2005 Sequoia Grove
When I eat a good steak I also enjoy some vino and preferably some gohan (rice). LOL. I'm no connoisseur of fine wine, that would be my brother, but I know when I enjoy a wine. And this particular Cab was very good and very reasonably priced considering.

Tuna Tartare
For those who know me, know that I'm not much of seafood person. Although, as I am getting older I am beginning to like it more and more. So my experience with tuna tartare is very limited and I don't have much to go against. In my opinion, Wolfgang's version was decent. Nothing earth shattering about it.

Manhattan Clam Chowder
I have never had or remembered of hearing of Manhattan Clam Chowder. Whenever I think or hear of clam chowder, I think of New England Clam Chowder. I guess I need to get out more often :) So when it came out I was a bit shocked to see that it was red! My impressions were that it tasted very similar to a vegetable soup. Again, nothing earth shattering about was just good.

Sizzling Bacon
This was a familiar sight. The sizzling bacon reminded me of Peter Luger's. How can you go wrong with bacon? It was very tasty and juicy. The only downside besides it making me more fat is the cost :) LOL.

New York Steak
I know, I know...the picture sucks! Blame it on the camera not the photographer. Similar to Peter Luger's, the steak comes out piping hot and is sliced at the table. Unfortunately, we didn't try their Porterhouse Steak to make a true comparison to Peter Luger's. One thing they do have in common for sure is that the steak was very good! My only knock on my steak, was that it was a bit under seasoned. Other than that it was great! The flavor of the meat was outstanding.

My Plate
Here's a picture of my plate. Pictured is some New York Steak, Creamed Spinach, Mashed Potatoes, and German Potatoes. Everything was very good! Both the Creamed Spinach and Mashed Potatoes were very creamy and delicious. My favorite side was the German Potatoes. They were very delicious and also reminded me of Peter Luger. Everything we had that night was all in all good, with the exception of the steak. Which I felt was outstanding!

Apple Strudel
Although I only took a small bite, my impressions and my memory of this dessert was that it was pretty straight forward and good. Before coming here, I looked at the menu and saw that all the desserts came with a fresh schlag. I was thinking to myself, 'what the hell is a schlag'? It turned out to be their fresh whipped cream. What ever you call it, it was good :)

Chocolate Mousse Cake
This is another example of my recent 'falling out' with chocolate desserts. Usually my favorite desserts always tend to be chocolate but this was not my favorite of the night. hmm....something is going on. Anyways, this was very rich and went nicely with my cup of joe :) All in all, I enjoyed it a lot. It just was not my favorite.

I felt that the cheese cake was the best dessert of the night. It was very creamy and wasn't overly sweet. Again this was a straight forward interpretation of a dessert. Nothing fancy about it. But then again that's what I enjoyed about that night. Everything was pretty straight forward and good.

Wolfgang's Steakhouse
445 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA. 90210

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thanks Dine LA! (Spago, Beverly Hills)

The fine dining train keeps on rolling! When can you get a three course meal for $44 at Spago? Got to love Dine LA! If it wasn't for L.A's restaurant week, I don't think we would have gone to Spago's. I guess we would have for a special occasion one day, but to go for no reason, it would have never happened. It was probably the best deal out of the 200+ participating restaurants.

Again. we made the earliest reservation time available because of "baby gohan". When we arrived they were still setting up tables :) That's how early our dinner reservations were. When we were seated at the outside dining area, we were a little skeptical because some leaves were falling from the trees onto our table, but as the night went on the breezes calmed down and the falling leaves were in the past. The night had turned out to be very pleasant. I have to say....the outside dining area is absolutely beautiful and romantic. We really enjoyed the atmosphere. We were a little concerned that Spago might be a little snooty, but to our delight that was not the case at all. It was the same experience at the Spago's in Maui. The staff was excellent and the restaurant was very inviting. All in all, we had a very enjoyable evening out. Thanks to Dine LA :)

Heirloom Tomato Soup
"Mrs. Gohan's" sister ordered this starter on the recommendation of our waiter. I'm not a tomato person at all, but I have to say that this had a very clean flavor and finish to it. I really enjoyed it and I'm glad someone ordered it so I could try some :) I enjoy trying different dishes, I just have a hard time ordering stuff I'm not accustomed to ordering for myself. That's where other people come in handy. lol

Crispy Monterey Bay Calamari
Yet, here is another example of me being happy that someone ordered this dish. This was "Mrs. Gohan's" appetizer. I would never order this for myself as I am not much of a seafood person, but I'm sure glad I ate some. This was the best appetizer that our table ordered for sure. It was delicious!

Maine Lobster & Spinach Ravioli
This was my order. The Maine Lobster & spinach ravioli. I have to say this was my least favorite of the appetizers. It sounded very good, but it didn't live up to my expectations. It wasn't very flavorful and I didn't get the taste of too much lobster :(

Sweet Corn Agnolotti
This was what they called a mid course. This was my favorite of the night! This was the supplemental dish that we ordered. And boy...was it worth it! The texture of the Agnolotti was just right. The sweetness of the corn was balanced perfectly with the saltiness of the Parmesan Reggiano and was tied together with the butter sauce. This was excellent!

This was probably my least favorite entree of the night. I thought the halibut was a tad bit on the dry side and a little tough. The mushrooms and pancetta with the foam, however, were quite tasty and yummy.

Kurobuta Pork Chop
The Kurobuta Pork Chop with pear-ginger compote, stir fried green beans and confit pork, Chinese 10 spice and port-licorice reduction was quite delicious. The Kurobuta (Berkshire Pork) was perfectly cooked and seasoned.

Wood Oven Roasted Poussin
The Poussin (young chicken) was prepared with caramelized garlic and preserved lemons and served with fingerling potatoes. The skin of the Poussin was very crispy and the meat was very juicy and flavorful. It was one of the best prepared "chicken" dishes I've ever had!

Apple Upside Down Cake
I really enjoyed this dessert. I thought it was one of the best apple desserts I've tried. It was nice and flaky and the apples were not too tart or sweet. It was very delicious.

Chocolate Purse
The chocolate purse was comprised of a crepe filled with a chocolate ganache. The top portion of the crepe was crispy which added a nice contrast in texture with the smooth velvety ganache. This was very rich and decadent.....and oh yes, it was very good!

Berry Short Cake
Although I'm a chocolate lover, I think this was my favorite dessert of the night. Maybe I'm being biased since this was my order :) Although, I find myself enjoying the non chocolate desserts more often than not recently. hmmm.....maybe my palate is changing. Anyways, this dessert was very refreshing yet very satisfying. It even had golden raspberries, which were a treat. They were very good!

Spago Beverly Hills
176 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, California 90210

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy 3rd Anniversary! (Craft Los Angeles, Los Angeles)

Me and Mrs have been on a real roll recently. After "baby gohan" came along, the meaning of dining out to us was going to places like Carrows or IHOP :) But, recently we've been going out to eat at a lot of really nice restaurants. Luckily we had a gift certificate for Craft and what better time to use it and celebrate our 3rd Anniversary. I have to say, that might have been one of the cheapest fine dining experiences I've had in a long long time :) Needless to say, we both were very excited about going. We've wanted to eat here ever since Tom Colicchio opened his restaurant here in Los Angeles, but it almost didn't happen. "Mrs. Gohan" was sick the whole week, but luckily she recovered in the nick of time.

As we approached the restaurant, the appearance from the outside really didn't have that much appeal or character. As soon as we entered, we knew it was a different story. I was pleasantly surprised by the decor and atmosphere of Craft. The colors were warm and inviting but yet had a real contemporary feel. The shape of the dining area was very unique as well. Well, enough of that......On with the food :)

Shishito Peppers
These were some of the biggest shishito peppers I have ever seen! These were nicely seasoned and sauteed. Nothing too special about them. Pretty straight forward

Potato Gratin
The potato gratin was the second side dish we ordered. Too bad they didn't have gohan (rice). LOL. Again the potatoes were nothing mind blowing, but I have to say it was very creamy and good!

Kobe Sirloin
I just had expressed to the Mrs. that online menus have in some capacity diminished the surprise element of going to new restaurants. But at the same time, it does come in handy as well :) Having said that, when we made reservations, we had our minds made up to order the ribeye for the table. After arriving, we were informed that a special item was on the menu. The Kobe Sirloin steak for the table. We jumped at the opportunity. Although it was very tasty and PERFECTLY cooked, I think we should've stuck to our original plans since our favorite cut of meat is the ribeye. But having said that, it was very good. What would have made it better? Rice of course!

Grapefruit Gelee with Prickly Pear
I was not used to having complimentary desserts from the pastry chef. In fact we got two desserts compliments of the house. I only took a picture of this one though. This was a grapefruit gelee with prickly pear. It was very delicious and refreshing.

Chocolate Souffle
I am the biggest fan of chocolate souffles! I basically grew up eating chocolate souffles and that has not changed one bit. Craft's souffle was very light and scrumptious. On a scale from 1-10, I'd probably give it a 7. Nothing beats the one at Moustache Cafe! Sadly it's no longer around :(

Craft Los Angeles
10100 Constellation Blvd
Los Angeles, CA. 90067