Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Fine Dining?

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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