1104 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Chef Josiah Citrin
Dinner only Tuesday through Saturday
I have never seen bread service precede the amuse gueule. Or all of the stemware for the next 5-6 courses being laid out in front of me in advance for the wine pairing as though I was going to play glasses. 3 hour tasting menu? They can rip through it in 90 minutes (the stemware efficiency must be helping).
I thought I had a salty palate, but I was craving water as much as wine based on the aggressive seasoning in most of the dishes (although I did still enjoy the saltiness in the Normandy butter).
Don't tell me that white truffles are in season in early October, charge $120 for the supplement (OMG salty much?), and then present out-of-season black truffles studded all over the sauce (having said that, in an earlier course, the nicely hot eggplant-rosemary veloute with the cold black truffle creme quenelle was a surprising and tasty temperature and flavor contrast; I am so glad I did not listen to the captain instructing me to mix it all up before eating). That truffle egg supplement was also a visual disaster -- although it was interesting to experience essentially a savory Ile Flotant with a runny yolk in the middle.
Foie terrine was flawless, and so was the caviar egg (but I kept thinking of Jon Favreau's Chef movie as I was eating it; I actually enjoyed these classic French dishes).
Chawan mushi on the other hand. Sigh. I know that the chef de cuisine is Japanese, and the matsutake mushrooms and spinach components were well-prepared, but the texture of the custard was grainy and too firm (instead of the correct consistency of silken tofu or super-soft and jiggly panna cotta). Chawan mushi also needs a layer of broth on top, and needs to be scalding hot, neither of which happened here.
The Santa Barbara spot prawn was overcooked; the cod was undercooked (and the over-salted lobster bisque flavored broth, the hollandaise rouille, decorative calamari, and the chewy fish skin-- do I even need to describe it further? what a trainwreck!); and the duck was under-rendered and this time, severely undersalted.
The bubblegum macaron, however, was well-executed if you can get over the swallowing chewing gum sensation of eating bubblegum flavor.
Not to mention, man, do Los Angeles people like to namedrop. Servers and diners alike.
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