Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Must Try: Allumette (Echo Park)

Allumette started as a weekly pop up in Echo Park's Allston Yacht Club, which the 24-year old Chef Miles Thompson (or is he 25 now?) called the Vagrancy Project. After a while, the AYC owners decided to redo the whole restaurant with Thompson in charge. So Allumette was born, and it is inarguably one of the best new restaurants in LA!

To start my hosted dinner, the chef sent out a house-made focaccia with potato mascarpone butter, which was so intriguing my mouth couldn't decide if it was potato, cheese, or butter.

Potato Mascarpone

Be sure to start your meal with one the crudos. There seems to always be a touch of sweet fruit to his dishes. The Pink snapper with kanzuri (Japanese chili paste with yuzu) and white soy is enhanced by cherimoya ($15).

I loved the live scallop tartare, strawberry, truffle, elderflower ($17)
Other than the strawberry, there were also small pieces of organic lime in the dish, sweeter with a more subtle tartness than what I was used to. Both lovely accompaniments to the scallop.

The bar program at Allumette should not be overlooked. Serena Herrick, formerly of Harvard and Stone, has devised a wonderful cocktail list to please a range of palates. Fans of strong aromatic drinks should try the Negroni Sbagliato #2 (Punt e Mes, Aperol, Graham Beck brut, sage leaves) - $10

Gentleman's Breakfast
All the drinks were great, but one of my favorites were the Gentleman's Breakfast (Famous Grouse scotch, egg white, lemon and ginger honey syrup, Atomized Candy Cap bitters, Islay scotch and candied ginger) - $12

Thompson's vegetable dishes are beautiful, exemplified by the Carrot salad, with sunchokes, radishes, pickled turnips, black carrot syrup ($9)
Carrot Salad

Then, a series of seafood starting with a round of fried oyster, kimchi ranch dressing, Asian pear mignonette, sea spinach ($6)
Fried Oyster

Stewed octopus, beluga lentils, vadouvan butter, fried egg ($17)
This will be one of the most tender octopus you've had.

As an intermezzo, the kitchen sent out a tiny Fairy squid with cilantro flower, yuzu. So delicate and fresh.
Fairy Squid

More cocktails: if you like a lighter, more refreshing drink to start, try the Red Letter Day (Cocchi di Torino, Rhum JM, orgeat, fresh lemon, soda, yuzu bitters) - $12
Red Letter Day

One of the owners stopped by our table mid-meal and asked if we wanted to do some wines. Why not, right? We asked him to just pair our upcoming dishes with a red wine. He brought out a 2011 Weingut Niklas Alto Adige Schiava from a little German speaking village in Italy (Schiava is the Italian name for the German grape called Trollinger, and somewhat similar to pinot noir). This is a nice wine to pair with food, not rich or heavy but balanced, smooth, and fruit forward.

Of course, I had to make sure we get the uni dish on the menu, and so glad I did: Cavatelli, uni ragu, English pea puree, braised mushrooms, fromage noir ($16)
Uni Cavatelli
The Fromage noir is actually fromage blanc from Sonoma to which he added squid ink, white chocolate chip, toasted almonds, Meyer lemon juice and zest. The uni was not overwhelming in this pasta but the flavor is there and added a nice creaminess.

Pork shoulder, bacon, crosnes, caramelized onion, feuille de brick ($16)
Pork Shoulder
Crispy pork cigar, anyone?

We also had a dish that was not on the menu yet but one they've been working on. He calls this short rib dish "pho on a plate." The short rib was cooked in pho broth and served with mint and herbs to evoke the aroma of pho broth.
Pho Short Rib

The dessert may not look as pretty as some of the savories, but I loved the Citrus curd, rhubarb lime gelee, sumac, poppy, rose geranium ($7)
Citrus Curd
It's pretty light yet satisfyingly creamy, perfect end to a meal.

You should also try the Goat's milk flan with angel food cake, brown butter, tapioca ($7)
Goat's Milk Flan
The tapioca was cooked in goat's milk, cooled in cucumber juice. Again, a light, refreshing dessert.

Allumette recently started serving a 5-course tasting menu for $72 and I urge you to go for it. This meal was hosted but it was so wonderful I'm returning on my own with friends this weekend, and probably getting a tasting menu.

1320 Echo Park Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 935-8787
Allumette on Urbanspoon


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