Friday, August 29, 2008

Eme's Little Bunting

I have heard rave reviews about Ortolan, so I finally decided to give it a try. Ortolan's chef, Christopher Eme, probably has two claims to fame: 1)He was a chef at L'Orangerie and 2)he is married to actress Jeri Ryan.

We were there on a weekday for an 8 o'clock reservation and the restaurant is almost empty - only two other tables in the front dining room, which had these really nice white booths. After my dinner that night I was undecided about their service, and I'll tell you why...

We were seated immediately and were asked if we would like any wine or champagne. We don't really drink so we declined and just asked to tap water. It seems like after this we were ignored ... For about 15 minutes in such a practically empty place, we were not given any menu. After 15 minutes someone came by and asked if we were ready for order. "I'd like to see the menu" was, naturally, my only response. (I wanted to add "Uhm, helloooo???!" to that).

Anyway, after that, the menu came immediately. We ordered crispy langoustine and seared foie gras for appetizers. Maybe because these were big ticket items, maybe because the guy could see that I was *unhappy*, or maybe because I were taking photos of the food and they figured out I'm a blogger - whatever it was, the service from then on was impeccable.

The first amuse bouche were two types of soups (warm) served in test tubes with straws.

The orange one was a carrot soup - good (I don't like carrot soups ...).
The red one was a tomato soup, and I don't remember what the green foam was. This was delicious!

The second amuse bouche was different than most other places - a pretty big bowl of eggplant caviar, to share for the whole table.
I loved it. It was unique and delicious. The flavors worked very well together and it has a nice, rich, creamy texture. I also loved the presentation in the stacked bowls.

The crispy langoustine appetizer was supposed to be one of their signature dishes:
It was okay ... From a signature dish I was expecting flavors dancing around in my mouth, but that didn't really happen. It was good langoustine and all, but overall didn't really stand out in my mind. Three pieces of langoustine - $24 ... hmm, I didn't think it was worth it.

So moving on to my seared foie gras:
Now this is more like it!!! This wasn't on the menu but was suggested to me by the server when I told him I like foie gras but not terrine. The seared foie gras was served with cherries - a sweet combo! One of the better foie gras dishes I've had and my favorite dish of the night.

So the chef (Eme) comes out to each table to explain all the main entrees to everyone. I thought it was nice to maintain some personal interaction like that.

One of the entrees we got was the Cod with Paella:
I thought the paella was a bit bland for a paella and the sausages being on the side was rather hard to cut and thus to incorporate into each bite. The cod, on the other hand, was perfect. In other words, it was cooked perfectly and had just the right tenderness and flakiness. And by "right" I meant "ooh, I never knew this is how cod could really be!"
So, 100/100 points for the cod, but the dish in its entirety needs to be tied together better.

For my entree I got the Pork "Maine-et-Loire" three-way.
Interesting presentation. The best part of the dish is the pork confit hidden under the spaghetti carbonara. The bulk of the dish was the two pieces you see to the left. They are, unfortunately, a little dry :( I loved the spaghetti+pork confit and the stuffed bell pepper, but the rest was just okay ...

I got the "Lime Gelee, Coconut Emulsion" dessert because it sounded interesting.
I was kind of disappointed ... It wasn't really anything special and it was also pretty small.

We also got the chocolate tart (with raspberry and vanilla ice cream)
Much better! A rich and dark-chocolatey chocolate tart. The raspberries and the vanilla ice cream helped cut that richness perfectly. Yummy.

Oh, and I didn't take pictures, but one of the highlights of our meal was the chocolate truffles that they gave us at (near) the end (before the petit-fours)!! They brought a tray with jars of chocolate truffles with different flavors: coconut, lime, earl grey, praline .. mm what else...
Anyway, these chocolate truffles were very2 good. I didn't know how many we can have, so we just asked for two flavors each. They were so good that I asked them if I can buy some to take home!! After asking the pastry chef, they agreed. I chose the flavors I wanted and brought home a box of about 8-10 truffles. They charged me for an additional dessert, which was $12. It ended up being a great deal! Cheaper than, say, Chuao (or Leonida's, even?) and much better truffles!

Chef Eme held the door open for us as we left the restaurant! This made us leave the restaurant feeling happy and important and that the restaurant gives amazing service (but then I remembered their initial blunder - which left me undecided ... I guess overall they do give really good service).

8338 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048.
(323) 653-3300

Ortolan on Urbanspoon


Food, she thought.

veddy nice! Love your blog, will be adding it to my roll!


Your thoughts about Ortolan seem pretty inline with what I encountered. I see potential in the place but there are some things that need to be fixed.

"I like foie gras but not terrine." - I used to like seared better but now I definitely prefer the terrine version. Maybe after having that terrine at French Laundry...


Thanks food,she thought!! :D

And kevineats: Hmmm French Laundry ... lucky you. I can imagine how good foie gras terrine there may be :P


Looks lovely! A Great blog you have here!


I'm inclined to agree that they might be giving you special attention once they saw you taking pictures. It's hard not to abuse that power as a blogger. I always wonder how objective my service is when I have my notepad out and camera in hand.

The soup combinations were pretty. Do you think serving it in a test tube really made a difference?


Hmm I think the test tubes help in the way that you can see the combinations and the colors in that layer ... it makes the presentation pretty. Other than that it's just "cute" but I don't think it would've made a difference whether it was a test tube or, say, a tall lean glass? (like a really tall shooter glass?)

Exile Kiss

Hi burumun,

Nice review of Ortolan. I still haven't made it out to this place because of the mixed reviews. I'm glad the restaurant straightened up its service after the initial gaffe you described (which was unfortunate).

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