Food

dineLA Restaurant Week Hits and Misses: January 2013

By | February 6, 2013 2 comments
dineLA Restaurant Week Hits and Misses: January 2013

The latest incarnation of dineLA’s Restaurant Week culminated on February 1, 2013. Almost 300 L.A. area restaurants created prix fixe menus. I visited four restaurants from my 12 Top Picks for dineLA’s Restaurant Week: Winter 2013. Here are my highs and lows, including a clear opinion on whether or not each restaurant is worth repeating in the future.

Maison Giraud ($20 lunch)
Date of Visit: January 20, 2013

Alain Giraud’s latest venture resides in the Pacific Palisades, and though he was clearly ambitious when he was behind Bastide’s stoves, Maison Giraud is more humble, a sidewalk café primarily for people living in a bucolic community. Noubar Yessayan clearly has a handle on pastries, based on a previous visit, and every single item he made was sold out by the time we arrived at noon for a Martin Luther King Day lunch. Le Plateau is basically a gourmet Hungry Man, with the starter and entrée arriving simultaneously on a platter. My starter, Soup a Pistou, showcased cubed winter vegetables without any pop. My main plate consisted of pan-roasted, orange zest-accented Maine Scallops plated on leek fondue with pistachio-lemon sauce. We passed plates, and the flavor of the grilled beef tenderloin was muted, and a stronger sear could have helped. However, Chef Yessayan’s Coffee Crème Caramel was outstanding, featuring a deft balance of firm and creamy with crispy sugar shards and a meringue rod lined with sugar granules, basically sweet ants on a log. Aside from the soup and steak, flavors were good, but we all left wanting more food.

STANDOUT DISH: Coffee Crème Caramel
WORTH REPEATING? NO

Lukshon ($25 dinner)
Date of Visit: January 29, 2013

Sang Yoon’s contemporary pan Asian restaurant in the Helms Bakery complex encourages sharing, and during dineLA Restaurant Week, for only $25, everybody got a choice of 11 dishes. Since my group had four people, we got to try everything, including doubles of the crab fritters with Singapore style chile jam, and a two-token Beef & Broccoli that earned Food of the Week honors. With 11 dishes, of course some were better than others, with plates like Steamed Cod, Chinese Eggplant and Pig Ear Terrine outpacing Grilled Squid Salad and Kurobuta Pork Ribs, but the flavors were all fairly bold and distinct, and Lukshon even threw in small desserts like Beijing yogurt and chocolate panna cotta with feuilletine.

STANDOUT DISH: Beef & Broccoli
WORTH REPEATING? YES

Fundamental LA ($15 lunch)
Date of Visit: January 31, 2013

Jeff Faust and Woogene Lee’s seasonal Westwood restaurant serves as a sandwich and salad emporium at lunch. For dineLA Restaurant Week, they went big, including a choice of sandwich or salad, a side, dessert and beverage. The obvious choice was their killer “real vanilla cream soda,” normally $3. My juicy Braised Short Rib (normally $11) sandwich incorporated spicy gochujang, which paired well with bitter dandelion greens, crunchy pickled mung beans, and mildly pungent garlic aioli on brioche. My side consisted of Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower (normally $5) tossed with extra virgin olive oil, tangy capers, and crisp upland cress. They also added a bagged gooey chocolate chip cookie, which was probably designed to go, but never made it past the front door. Of course, this is probably more food than anybody needs at lunch, but everything tasted good, and the value was high.

STANDOUT DISH: Braised Short Rib Sandwich
WORTH REPEATING? YES

Father’s Office ($25 dinner)
Date of Visit: January 31, 2013

Of course there are some dissenters, but almost everybody knows that Sang Yoon makes a good burger. For dineLA Restaurant Week, it was cool to see him open up the culinary playbook, featuring a choice of Small and Big plate (and no burger), plus a craft beer, since the bar and order-at-the-counter restaurant is also known for that. It was surprising to see olive “soil” at what’s ostensibly a gastropub, but at least the savory “soil” factored into a satisfying small plate: Salt Cod Brandade Fritters with piquillo gastrique and pimenton aioli. Pork Rinds arrived in a basket, just like the fries, dusted with mole salt and dippable in salsa verde. The rinds were still sizzling when the basket hit the table, a sign of fresh frying. Lamb Pot Pie sported a buttery puff pastry crust that shielded supple root vegetables, though the signature ingredient – lamb – was in short supply. Since Firestone Walker Walker’s Reserve Robust Porter factored into the pie, that became a natural craft beer companion, and the beer pairing worked well. Since variety is almost always advantageous, we passed plates, and the bone-in Pork Porterhouse was juicy, and the accompanying braised Belgian endive held up well to the meat, though the grit cake got crushed and grew soggy under the meat. If the cake arrived on the side, the dish probably would have been even better.

STANDOUT DISH: Lamb Pot Pie
WORTH REPEATING? YES

What were your dineLA Restaurant Week hits and misses? Please share below in Comments.

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Comments

  1. Bigmouth says:

    I adore Fundamental. If you ever see their lamb belly sandwich on the menu, be sure to give it a try. I think it’s my favorite sandwich there — and that’s saying something.

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