Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Crudo Finds a Home at Culina in Beverly Hills

Let's face it, I love raw seafood. Even after watching The Cove, I still went to Culina to try their crudo (but I have been avoiding tuna more, and definitely am not planning on eating whales or dolphins). While I managed to indulge in crudo heaven at Marea in NYC, in LA this dish is still relatively hard to find. I was bummed when the now-shuttered Blanca in Newport Beach stopped serving crudo.

Luckily, the new restaurant at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, Culina, moves in to fill the gap.

The place is large and swank, of course, being Four Seasons and all. Dimly lit, dark leather chairs, the whole lot, with an almost equally large outdoor dining area.

They also have a crudo bar where you can watch them slicing your raw fishies a la a sushi bar.

To start: breadsticks and olives.

By the way, the olive oil here is supposed to be so good that they sell it by the bottle in case you want to take it home.

I wanted a glass of wine and asked the sommelier what would work best with the crudo I'm ordering. She recommended the 2007 Vermentino (Tuscany), which did work well for some, though not all, the crudo.

I can't go to Culina and not have the crudo. Unable to make up my mind, I just ordered the Crudo Sampler: three choices, $22.
My three choices:
Salmone - loch duart salmon. caper salt. blood orange.
Ricci Di Mare – Sea Urchin, Lemon, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Yellowtail, Star Anise Oil, Orange Sea Salt
I liked the acidity and sweetness that the blood orange lent to the fatty salmon. The olive oil added another layer of richness to the sea urchin. The yellowtail was prepared simply which worked even better, focusing on the wonderful flavor and texture of the yellowtail itself.

Another crudo order: Aragosta (lobster. pink peppercorns. grapefruit & chive oil. $13)
It's amazing how food changes texture between its raw and cooked state.

Polipo Harissa – Baby Octopus, Harrisa, Ceci Beans ($14)
This was easily my favorite dish besides the crudos. The harissa gave the little tender octopus a wonderful flavor. I would definitely order this again.

Ravioli (sweet corn packets. mascarpone. sage brown butter, $18)
Stuff anything with sweet corn and I will eat it. This was made even a tad bit sweeter with the brown butter coating. We enjoyed this dish quite a bit, although $18 for 4 corn raviolis did not seem as good a deal as the previous $14 octopus.

Gnocchi Di Patate, Lobster Knuckles, Pea Shoots, Black Truffle
I found this way too "mushy" for me - I felt like I was eating mashed potatoes. It was meant to have that texture, however, and my dining companion enjoyed it, so it may just be a matter of personal taste.

We also ordered pappardelle with lamb ragu, which was good albeit a bit salty.

A couple of mignardises to end the night.

The strength of my Culina meal was definitely the seafood, both the crudo and the polipo harissa. The pastas were more hit and miss, and even the hits weren't as high as other Italian restaurants around town. But there's nothing wrong with a restaurant with a specialized strength. I know where to go for crudo in LA, and that's enough for me.

Culina at Four Seasons Beverly Hills
300 S Doheny Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 273-2222
Culina at Four Seasons Beverly Hills on Urbanspoon



how was the uni with olive oil and lemon, it's hard to imagine eating uni not in its pure natural form. Too bad about the pastas, good to know though.


Did you ever try the crudo at Riva before they turned into Fraiche? I thought it was very well done! Was sad when they closed - their pizzas were great too!

Been hearing great things about Culina though -- bummer the pasta doesn't live up to the fabulous crudo!


stuffycheaks: I liked the uni, the olive oil and lemon didn't overwhelm the uni flavor. I don't think it's too far from its natural form :)

Diana: I did! I agree, I liked the crudo there, and they also had this serrano with persimmon that I still crave to this day. Alas, Riva is no more :(

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