Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Chef Heralds Summer at Cafe Pinot (Downtown LA)

Downtown's Cafe Pinot has announced Joe Vasiloff as their new head chef. Chef Vasiloff has worked with the Patina Group since 2011, most recently opening the Wine Bar at the Hollywood Bowl. Before that, he's also worked at Bouchon and Animal.

I recently went to a lunch tasting, sampling some of his menu offerings.
Soup du Jour: Chilled heirloom tomato soup, bluefin crab salad, old bay and cheddar crackers


Burrata salad, mixed stone fruits, honeycomb, mint, smoked sea salt, mache, marcona almonds, candied lime
Burrata salad
There are quite a lot going on in this burrata salad! I particularly loved the addition of the honeycomb, and the almonds provided a nice texture contrast. I think I might start putting honeycomb on my salads ...
Local halibut crudo, chilled watermelon, soy caramel, caviar lime, serrano chili, black sesame crunch, citrus salt, basil seeds
There are a lot of flavor components but the crudo is lightly dressed and is thus perfect for the summer.

Pan-seared Idaho trout, marble potatoes, sunchokes, skordalia, dukkah and almond spice, chips
There were a couple of terms I wasn't familiar with. Skordalia comes from the Greek cuisine, and is a puree of garlic combined with (typically) potatoes. Dukkah is an Egyptian mixture of herbs and spices. Combined, the two sounds like a lot of garlic and spices, but albeit flavorful they don't overwhelm the subtle sweetness of the trout.

Coffee-rubbed baby back ribs, frisee and fingerling potato salad, shaved celery, Tabasco remoulade, garlic chips

Fried buttermilk chicken sandwich, brioche bun, green tomatillo relish, jalapeno, carrot, savoy cabbage coleslaw, sliced avocado
The fried chicken was pretty tender, being chicken breast and all and the toasted brioche bun is nice and flaky.

If you didn't know before, Cafe Pinot is in the same complex as the Public Library and you can park at the library's parking structure for a reduced rate ($5 or $6, I forget) for two hours. Since our 2 hours was coming up, the restaurant brought out a quick dessert with strawberries, some sort of crumbles, and a refreshing lime sorbet.

It was hot on that summer day, but this cold ginger lemonade really helped.

Cafe Pinot is one of the best places to dine outdoors in downtown LA, where you can also see the fountain in front of the downtown Public Library from some seats.


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