Showing posts with label michelin star. Show all posts
Showing posts with label michelin star. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rustic Pre-Bday Dinner at Saddle Peak Lodge

Happy New Year (belated x5) everyone! My 1st post this year: last month's dinner at Saddle Peak Lodge!Dining at Saddle Peak Lodge seems more like a mini-getaway than just dinner. First, there's the drive up the quiet and lush Malibu Hills. Once you get there, you enter the rustic lodge, with animal head trophies along the walls and a warm fireplace.

We went with the 8-course Chefs Tasting Menu ($135. hey it's my birthday).
I didn't want to drink too much so I opted out of the wine pairing and got a glass of the Silver Oak Cabernet 2004 instead (though this is probably almost as much as the wine pairing would've cost).

We started with a warm chestnut soup as the amuse bouche.
It's warm and slightly sweet, a very nice intro and made me warm and happy after walking in the chilly Malibu hills air.

Wild Fijian Albacore sashimi, melon cilantro vinaigrette
The albacore is fresh and flavorful and the combination with the citrus is great. I'm usually not that big a fan of albacore, but I really enjoyed this dish.

Sautéed Maine day boat scallop
Relish of scarlet corn, peach, cucumber, lime and green zebra tomato broth
The scallops were on the small side, but was fresh. Loved the peaches in this dish.

Artichoke agnolotti
Morel mushroom and fava bean fricassee, topped with ricotta cheese.
A great dish, perhaps my favorite of the night. The agnolotti goes very well with the morel mushrooms and the ricotta cheese is a very nice touch.

Seared line caught salmon
Blistered cherry tomatoes, vegetable “papardele” and saffron zucchini blossom butter
The vegetable papardele were superfluous IMO, but this is a nice wild salmon that's cooked very well! And delicious, delicious cherry tomatoes.

Seared La Belle Farms foie gras
caramelized apricots, brioche toast, meyer lemon duck jus and ginger infused apricot purée
The foie gras had a nice melt-in-your-mouth consistency and the apricots were a nice pairing. I didn't like the brioche toast with it since I thought the soggy toast didn't pair well with the foie gras but my companion liked it a lot -- to each his own.

Wood grilled California squab
Medjool date, brown fig, heirloom tomato, basil compote and leek chip
Not particularly meaty, but it's a nice, lean, gamey meat. Liked it with the fig.

Roasted New Zealand elk tenderloin
parsnip mousselin, braised bacon and brandied cherry ragôut
*sigh* I unfortunately am so so stuffed at this point. The elk was gamey and tender. I love the parsnip mousselin. I had to take it home since I couldn't finish it though.

Warm farmers market peach beignets
caramelized whipped cream and toasted hazelnuts
A nice warm dessert for the wintry weather. The beignets are fluffy, filled with nice peach chunks that aren't overly sweet. A bit heavy though as an ending to the heavy meal that preceded it.

Dining at Saddle Peak Lodge is very enjoyable, with a unique, cozy atmosphere (as far as LA restaurants go) and great food. Their game meat selection alone is a reason to go.

Saddle Peak Lodge
419 Cold Canyon Rd
Calabasas, CA

(818) 222-3888

Saddle Peak Lodge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The 2009 Michelin Stars

Los Angeles
Melisse **
Providence **
Spago **
Urasawa **
Cut *
Gordon Ramsay at The London *
Ortolan *
Osteria Mozza *
Sona *
Sushi Mori *
Sushi Zo *
Water Grill *

San Francisco/Napa Valley
Coi **
The French Laundry ***
Chez Panisse *

New York
Jean Georges ***
Le Bernardin ***
Aureole *
Eleven Madison Park *
Fleur de Sel *
Gramercy Tavern *

Monday, December 1, 2008

NYC: Beautiful Dinner at Jean Georges

Starting off my report on NYC this year with Jean Georges! Another Michelin 3-star tested. Last year I managed to hit Le Bernardin and Bouley, but this year I managed to hit so much more. Great trip, indeed.

At Jean Georges you can either get 3 courses+1 dessert prix fixe for $98, or one of their tasting menus (1 classic and 1 seasonal) for $148, which I believe was 5 courses+1 dessert. Their classic tasting menus included egg caviar, but since there was no foie gras involved in either of the tasting menus and since the other people in our group had dietary restrictions, we decided to go with the prix fixe and chose our own dishes.

The amuse bouche consisted of smoked salmon with cream sauce, chestnut soupBoth the salmon and the warm soup were great.

All four of us ended up getting the egg caviar for our first course, for $25 supplement.
Great eggs, and great caviar. I don't really know my caviar well enough to fully appreciate it though, but the egg preparation was wonderful.

Pan Seared Foie Gras with Fall Spices, Concord Grape.
Best. foie. gras. ever. Ever. I don't know what else to say. It's a simple preparation that really focuses on the foie gras, not the embellishments. The concord grape sauce complements it perfectly. And the foie gras. The foie gras!

One of the others got the Black Cod steamed with Hoshinmeji.

For my main entree I went with Smoked Squab a L'Orange, Asian pear, Candied Tamarind.
The squab was tender, much more so than any other squab I've had before, and had a very nice smoked flavor to it. The broth was subtle and takes a bit to appreciate, but it really grows on you and by the end you couldn't stop eating!

All three of my dining companions went with the Loin of lamb, spiced crumbs, fried eggplant, fig compote
They came bearing a cart and showed us the black trumpet-crusted lamb in a big piece. Upon our approval, they cut the lamb loin and plated it right in front of you. Wonderful touch to their service! The lamb was tender and delicious. This was a heavier, bolder-tasting dish than the squab, but both were great. Accompaniments worked very well with the main attraction.

For the dessert you choose a certain theme, and you get a tasting of 4 items. When we were there our theme choices were: Autumn, Chocolate, Apple, and Caramel.
Here's a photo of the Caramel that someone else ordered:

The Chocolate one consisted of: Jean Georges chocolate cake, vanilla bean ice cream, aerated chocolate sponge, chocolate gnocchi, chocolate soda
The chocolate sponge had a very interesting texture and just sorta disappears in your mouth. My favorite part of this one was the JG chocolate cake, which is just like a chocolate molten cake and was delicious.

Autumn: pear tart, persimmon ice cream, snow cone ... and some marshmallow-y tart that I wasn't sure about.
My favorite part of this dessert was the pear tart and persimmon ice cream:
Then came a slew of petit fours, from macarons, fresh cut marshmallows made in-house, fruit gelee and chocolates.

This was my favorite dinner while in New York. The food and service were both excellent, and so was the company. JG definitely deserves their three stars and I hope I'll get the chance to come back - maybe for their $25 lunches!

Jean Georges
1 Central Park West (at the Trump Tower)
New York, NY
(212) 299-3900

Jean Georges on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2-Star Melisse

Went to the two Michelin starred restaurant Melisse last night, with great expectations (Michelin stars come with responsibilities!). We were 10 minutes late but were promptly seated and were accomodated even when we wanted to switch to a bigger table. They had a champagne cart, but we opted out of alcohol for the night. Since we didn't have much time, we didn't get any tasting menu.

They started us with grapes coated with goat cheese and pistachio crumbs.The amuse bouche was a tuna tartar, and in the shot glass was layers of passionfruit gelee, fennel flan, and topped with cashew foam.
I liked the concoction in the shot glass, but the tuna tartar was unmemorable, although good.

The Egg Caviar was good. Poached egg with cauliflower puree and caviar.
The quality of the poached egg and caviar was good, but I don't think it is worth the price they are charging for it .... It isn't even that much caviar ...

The sweet onion-parmesan soup, on the other hand, was excellent. They bring out the bowl with the jumbo lump crab cake, then pour the soup on the table.
The soup was smooth, and very flavorful. Not onion-y at all, and the crab cake was also excellent. Probably my favorite dish tonight (not counting dessert).

One of the entrees we got was the veal and spare ribs. The veal was good and tender, but the spare ribs we thought were on the tough and dry side .... definitely have had better.
I ordered the Crispy Rouget, served with mashed potatoes, and roasted potatoes on the side.
I liked the crispiness of the skin, and the sauce. However, after eating half of the plate I started feeling that the fish was a bit dry, and that there was just too much potatoes everywhere ... I liked the dish and thought it was good, but I wasn't really blown away.

We felt underwhelmed by our main courses ... and when our waitress asked we let her know so. Pretty soon after, the manager (I guess) came by our table and asked what was wrong. We let him know that the ribs were tough and dry. We also said though that to be fair we will come back and give them another try with the Carte Blanche tasting menu. He apologized and said that usually people are blown away, thanked us for letting him know and asked to give them another chance, then took our dessert order and said that the dessert will be on him.

After our meal, I didn't know what to expect for the dessert, but the Passionfruit Parfait we got was actually excellent! This contains frozen passionfruit souffle, topped with coconut sorbet and pistachio tuile, then drenched with lemongrass milk.
Amazing. Overall very refreshing and creative. We really liked this and I drank every last drop of the lemongrass milk (that the rest of it was also swiped clean goes without saying). I started to feel better about the restaurant after the first bite :)

Right now, I can't say I'm in love with the place, although I am in love with that dessert. I've been to Bouley in New York, and as far as 2-star restaurants go, Bouley was much better. And right now I also like Providence better. But, admitting that I didn't order anything from the Seasonal specials, and didn't get the tasting menu (which I always do at Providence), I don't want to discount this place yet. They're up for another test.

1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-0881

Melisse on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 8, 2008

Urasawa: Splurging once every 3 years

Sorry, I haven't had time to write it up completely. But everyone knows how amazing Urasawa is anyway, right? So for now, just enjoy the pictures and the brief reviews...

Hairy crab salad.Toro tataki, with yuzu, crysanthemum leaves, and gold flakes.
This dish has uni underneath. Urasawa's uni really is the best I've ever had. Nothing else is quite like it. Very sweet and the freshness is undebatable.

Sashimi ice sculpture. The one at the very left is of course, toro. The one furthest to the right is some great hamachi.
This was is a sort of chawan mushi, but potato-based.

Cod sperm sac tempura. (Sperm sac?? Yep .. Hey, it was GOOD)
Hairy crab, with hairy crab brain, topped with uni.

Seared wagyu beef. Yumm ...
This was what we got for the shabu shabu dish. It has live lobster, scallop, toro, and foie gras (in that order).
I spent a good part of the night just gawking at him while he does his stuff.

Hiro's apprentice killing a lobster.

Fresh lobster sushi.
We had so many different types of fish that night. Including needle fish, fresh kuruma shrimp, mirugai ...

Seared toro. The best sushi ever ... I had like 5 of them that night ... *sigh*
Hiro-san kept asking me if I was full. And all I kept saying was "I'll have more toro." What? I'm getting money's worth :P

Negi toro maki.
Ripe persimmon for dessert.
Azuki (red bean) with sesame seeds and gold flakes.

218 N Rodeo Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 247-8939

Urasawa on Urbanspoon

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