Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Michael Voltaggio's ink.

Top Chef Michael Voltaggio's ink: perhaps the most anticipated restaurant opening of the year, stalled a bit by the surprise opening of ink.sack, its sandwich shop counterpart. Reservations are taken online and have typically been immediately snatched up as soon as they become available, but we checked on random occasions and there are often cancellations.

We had a reservation but they were running a bit behind and we were told to wait at the bar. The bar was equally packed and there was initially no seat available, but a bar manned by Devon Espinosa definitely calls for some cocktail orders. This bar seems like the bar to be, as we ran into quite a few people we knew here. The cocktail list, as well as the food menu, are listed as a list of ingredients, with the main one in bold. Mezcal, scotch, rum, and so on.

We started with some drinks at the bar while waiting. Our two drinks were well balanced, with the mezcal being the more interesting:
mezcal, lemon, apple cider, cinnamon ($13)
scotch, lemon, ginger, clover honey, angostura bitters ($13)

The server suggested ordering 3-4 dishes per person. We ended up with ten total including dessert for three people. The dishes never failed to be interesting and different, and all in all they were done well.

charred avocado, hen of the woods, whipped fish sauce, mushroom chicharron ($11)

A new combination of familiar ingredients - a crowd pleaser.

brussels sprouts, pig ears, house-cured lardo, apple ($10)
Brussel Sprout
Photo by The Kick It Spot
I believe brussels sprout no longer qualify as a healthy vegetable dish in most restaurants. Certainly not here, covered in a sheet of lardo. The star of the show, though, was really the crispy pig ears.

spaghetti, giant squid, hazelnut-ink pesto, piment d'espelette ($14)
Squid Spaghetti
The hazelnut ink pesto sits below the chewy "spaghetti" made from squid, waiting for you to mix it and cover the spaghetti with the black ink.

butternut squash risotto, chicken wings, egg yolk, toasted wild rice, aromatic broth ($13)
Squash Risotto
Creamy, sweet risotto. Juicy, tender chicken meat. One of my companions loved this dish, but I personally am not so sure with the sweet risotto/ salty and fatty chicken wing combination.

quail, beet juice, quince, hazelnut, banyuls vinegar ($18)
This was my favorite, but I do tend to be biased towards quail. The light sweetness of the beet juice and the tartness of the vinegar added a brightness to the gamey meat.

sea bass, cream of dehydrated potato, black olive oil, lemon, caper ($23)
A well cooked sea bass with crispy skin. It went well with the cream of potato.

berkshire pork, charcoal crust, macaroni and cheese, leeks ($22)
The pork was excellent and tender. The "macaroni and cheese" here are the pastas stuffed with cheese inside. Personally, I prefer a more traditional interpretation (it allows for more cheese per pasta!)

veal cheek, red curry, nante carrots baked in salt, fried and sticky rice ($21)
Veal Cheek
I've had this dish before at the Iron Chef dinner at Sashi. This was my two companions' favorite as the veal cheek was melt-in-your-mouth tender, accented with a little kick from the curry.

ink.'s pastry team is Lissette Rodriguez, who also works at Fonuts, and Jashmine Corpuz who made her name at her previous position at Drago Centro. I only had a couple of her creations at Drago Centro before but her desserts here are in keeping with Voltaggio's style.

apple, creme caramel, burnt wood sabayon, walnut ($9)
Even though apple is listed as the main ingredient, there isn't that much apple in this dessert, neither did I really taste "burnt wood". Regardless, creme caramel is one of my favorite desserts, so no complaint here.

chocolate, coffee, spice ($10)
This dessert came with the liquid nitrogen frozen chocolate crumbs still smoking, which made for a more impressive presentation. Great textures and flavors here.

During the meal, one of the busboys spilled water on one of my companions and they comped our desserts as an apology. The prices were also not overly expensive and the ten dishes were just right for the three of us. Overall, these are some creative dishes not found elsewhere in this city and worth a try. Yes, there are Red Medicine and Ludobites, but the style is very different and prepared, at least during my visit, well.

8360 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 651-5866
ink. on Urbanspoon


Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital