An unexpected wine bar has opened in the heart of Koreatown with Tart's Chef Nick Erven (formerly Messhall) and sommelier Mary Thompson (formerly Rivera). The warm gougeres is just an amuse of the surprising and delectable dishes to come.
The appetizer puts almost all that is good on one plate - and it worked with the steak and oyster tartare and champagne sabayon, served with hot bone marrow beignets ($13)
Sommelier Mary Thompson has done a wonderful job with the wine list, and the servers know their stuff, too. I told my waitress what I liked and she recommended a lovely, crisp, 2012 Wagner Stempel Weissburgunder, Rheinhessen from Germany. This is one of the best new whites I've tried lately.
I ordered a white wine since I had some vegetable and seafood dishes coming, starting with the Summer corn with burnt avocado, whitefish roe, and chicken skin ($12)
Sea urchin "tataki" with avocado mousse, hearts of palm, and seaweed "doritos" ($10)
After seeing other people's instagrams later on, I regretted not ordering the chicken liver mousse with hazelnut. You guys should order that and let me know!
For our entrees: Sauteed spot prawns with cream of wheat, almond-red curry broth and garden herbs ($22)
Pecan wood smoked brisket with hoisin, tiny lettuce, and root vegetables ($19)
The desserts here were also unexpectedly creative. I ordered the Beet semifreddo with red berries, cacao crumble, and meringue ($10)
Peanut butter ganache, roasted grape ice cream, griddled pound cake, chocolate feuilletine ($10)
The restaurant's interior makes you forget that you are in a Koreatown strip mall. It's quiet, dim, and subdued.
Unlike the demure dining room, Chef Erven keeps his kitchen fun, complete with a "hipster" neon sign and a maneki neko (lucky cat) piggy bank for the staff's "beer fund".
I really enjoyed my visit to Saint Martha, and I think other bloggers will agree with me when I say that this is one of LA's best recent openings. I myself can't wait to return to try more of the menu items - like that chicken liver mousse I keep hearing about.
740 S Western Ave
Los Angeles CA 90005