Monday, February 28, 2011

The Royce at The Langham (Pasadena)

Lobster, Pomegranate
Last year, The Dining Room at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena obtained a lot of attention with Top Chef champion Michael Voltaggio heading the kitchen.

Chef David FeauThe restaurant then closed temporarily while undergoing a major renovation and recently reopened as The Royce (named after the late Stephen Royce who was the hotel's owner), with David Féau as their new executive chef.
Féau trained under Guy Savoy and was most recently the executive chef of the Patina Group's west coast operations.

I was lucky enough to be invited for a tasting dinner, complete with wine paired by the general manager and sommelier, Eric Espuny. The difference in the interior is striking. The Royce's dining room seems to be separated into sections of different themes and color schemes which I don't quite get, but the modern look and white leather chairs are definitely better than the old Dining Room.
The Royce Dining Room

Each diner is started with a glass of sparkling Moscato d'Asti to prep the palate. This is chosen by Espuny because of its low alcohol content. Its approachability makes it a good starter.
For me, I love the refreshing, light sweetness so much that I can just drink it all night long.

For those concerned, worry not, there's still bacon bread here.

For our amuse bouche: a creamy romanesco soup, puff pastry, foie gras torchon with apple slice.Amuse Bouche

I took Wandering Chopsticks along with me, and each of us received a different dish per course, giving us more opportunities to taste.

For the first course, I had the Blue Fin Tuna Belly with Huckleberries, paired with 2008 Clemen Vinho Verde.
I really enjoyed the juicy huckleberries which were in the forefront of the flavors here, and the celery coconut gelee rounded out the textures.

Photo courtesy of Wandering Chopsticks

The other dish for this course was:
Globe Omaha Artichoke, Pressure Cooked Beets, Hand Harvested Mache Salad, White Truffle Vinaigrette
Paired with 2009 Chateau Guiraud Bordeaux Blanc Sec
These beets were unlike the ones I usually have (you know, the ubiquitous beets with goat cheese) and the earthy artichokes and white truffle aroma were a great combination.

Féau may not focus on molecular techniques, but he seems to like to play with textures, as exemplified in the next course of salsify roots, and the variation of chocolate textures in the dessert course.

Salsify Prepared Four Ways | Braised, Braised and rolled in leeks ash, Pureed with goat cheese, fried "tagliatelle".
Paired with 1998 Kalin Cellars Semillon (Livermore Valley).
Salsify Roots
The waxy and earthy Semillon complemented the earthy and tender salsify roots quite well.

Lobster | pomegranate ($24)
slow poached lobster, coleman’s farm butter lettuce, sweet onion, pomegranate hot and snow
2008 Macon-Verze Burgundy (from the southern part of Burgundy)
Lobster, Pomegranate
Absolute love. The poached lobster was sweet, the texture was amazing. The tartness of the pomegranate was surprising and yet seemed to be just perfect.

What followed was a pair of delicate courses with broth poured tableside.

Cod | citrus ($28)
day boat blackburn chatham cod, squid ink spaghetti, autumn greens, romano squash, citrus dashi broth.
Paired with 2008 Domaine Testut Chablis Premier Cru, Montee de Tonnerre
Espuny draws on the minerality of the Chablis for this pairing. The juicy and flaky cod is accented nicely by the dashi flavor, nothing overwhelms each other but blends together.


Agnolotti filled with Parsnips, Vegetables, Mousseron Mushroom Veloute, Sorrel leaf.
This was paired with a glass of red, a 2007 Lagone Aia Vecchia, to bring out the smokiness of the broth.
The al dente agnolottis were great, but we loved all the greens sitting in the broth the most. I couldn't help cleaning off the bowl to the last drop.

Lentils "Du Puy" with English Peas, Roquette, Black Winter Truffles (shaved tableside, of course)
Paired with 2007 Chambollee-Musigny
Lentils and Truffles
This was one of my favorite dishes of the night (a vegetable dish, it's true!) and perhaps my favorite pairing as well. Eaten with the rich, warm lentils, the aroma of the truffles opened even more.The peas added a sweetness that brings it all together.

Veal with romanesco broccoli and black truffles
Paired with 2008 Fabre Montmayou Reserva Merlot (Mendoza, Argentina)
Photo courtesy of Wandering Chopsticks
The veal was particularly tender, contrasting nicely with the crisp romanesco. This was WC's favorite dish of the night.
Pineapple Sorbet
Palate cleanser: Pineapple sorbet

The desserts were fun Variations of Chocolate Textures: ice cream, crumble, jelly, chocolate sauce
Chocolate Textures
The jelly here had a light sour taste. It did cut the richness of all the other chocolate items, but I'm not sure if I'm a fan ... I liked the second "variation" much better: Chocolate cake with fleur de sel, chocolate tuile.
Chocolate Tart

Both were paired with the 2006 Mas Blanc Banyuls Rimage

To top it all of, we had more chocolates! These leaves were made with: dark chocolate with fleur de sel, milk chocolate with espresseo, and white chocolate with espelette.

Green TeaTo go with the chocolates, I asked for some hot green tea. We sipped and savored our meal in the new swank dining room.

The Langham came back strong with Féau manning The Royce, executing one delectable dish after another. The front of the house supports his works well with courteous and timely service and Espuny's diverse and well thought out pairings. Your dining experience isn't just about the food, luckily - at least based on my experience - The Royce has their game down on both ends.

The Royce at The Langham Hotel
The Royce
1401 S Oak Knoll Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 568-6410
The Royce on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: This meal was hosted.


Wandering Chopsticks

Yay! I can cheat and get notes off of you. Thanks for taking me along. That was one of the nicest meals I've had in a long time.


have been following your blog for awhile now, but finally leaving a comment after switching over to blogspot! will be back

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