Monthly Archives: April 2012

An Experience Of A Lifetime


The French Laundry had been at the top of my bucket list for many years. So when I recently had the opportunity to dine there with my twin daughters, I jumped on it. Owned by Chef Thomas Keller for the past 18 years, the restaurant is located in Yountville in Napa County, California and is housed in a century-old stone building that was once a French steam laundry. For both lunch and dinner, The French Laundry offers only a fixed price tasting menu (with a vegetarian option), which changes daily. The restaurant and Keller have won basically every major culinary award in the country so, needless to say, reservations are incredibly difficult to obtain.

Having heard about The French Laundry for so many years, I wondered whether it would ultimately disappoint. But it more than lived up to the hype. It was magical and extraordinary; the best dining experience I have ever had in this country and one of the two best I’ve had ever had in the world. Our lunch lasted four and a half hours and consisted of 14 small courses, each a beautiful work of art and a complex, creative and incredibly delicious dish. Everything was simply the best. The “Foie Gras Au Torchon” was served with a trio of exotic salts including a 40 million year old pink Jurassic salt from a copper mine in Montana. The beef course featured a special cut and blend of Wagyu and Black Angus sold only to The French Laundry. One of the butter options for our bread had been flown in from a farm in Vermont where it was made specially for the restaurant. The meal was full of surprises not listed on the menu such an incredible risotto, upon which our waiter shaved an insane amount of black truffles.

The service was equally excellent; the best I have ever experienced and not pretentious or overly formal. Each course was served with plate covers that were removed simultaneously for the whole table, followed by a presentation by the table captain of such course in wonderful detail. After our lunch, we were treated to a tour of the restaurant’s kitchen and took a walk through The French Laundry’s beautiful garden, where many of the restaurant’s vegetables and herbs are grown.

Such greatness does not come cheap. Both lunch and dinner at The French Laundry cost $270 per person including tip, but excluding tax, wine, supplements like foie gras and caviar, and additional tip (which you no doubt will want to leave for such incredible service). Yes, it’s one expensive meal, but you really shouldn’t think of it as just a meal. What you’re paying for is an experience of a lifetime. The one drawback of our lunch: by exposing my daughters to The French Laundry at such a young age, I think I have ruined them for all other fine dining experiences. Nothing can compare.

The French Laundry is located at 6640 Washington St., Yountville, California. If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter at the top right of this page. And please forward to your friends!

Amuse Bouche: Greyere Cheese Puffs

Amuse Bouche: Greyere Cheese Puffs


Scottish Salmon Tartar with Red Onion Creme Fraiche and Chive Chip in a Black Sesame Tuile Cone

Scottish Salmon Tartar with Red Onion Creme Fraiche and Chive Chip in a Black Sesame Tuile Cone


"Oysters and Pearls"  ("Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Cavier)

“Oysters and Pearls” (“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Cavier)


"Bouchon Roll" (Pan au Lait) with unsalted butter from Petaluma and salted butter from Vermont

“Bouchon Roll” (Pan au Lait) with unsalted butter from Petaluma and salted butter from Vermont


White Truffle-Infused Egg Custard in Egg Shell with Veal Reduction, Chopped Black Truffles and Chive Potato Chip

White Truffle-Infused Egg Custard in Egg Shell with Veal Reduction, Chopped Black Truffles and Chive Potato Chip


Trio of gourmet salts to accompany brioche and Moulard Duck "Foie Gras Au Torchon" with Gros Michel Banana, Sicilian Pistachios, Oxalis, Black Truffle and Bourbon Maple Syrup (pictured on top)

Trio of gourmet salts to accompany brioche and Moulard Duck “Foie Gras Au Torchon” with Gros Michel Banana, Sicilian Pistachios, Oxalis, Black Truffle and Bourbon Maple Syrup (pictured on top)


Salde of Roasted Hawaiian Hearts of Palm with Celery Branch, Piedmont Hazelnuts and Cranberry Relish

Salde of Roasted Hawaiian Hearts of Palm with Celery Branch, Piedmont Hazelnuts and Cranberry Relish


Nantucket Bay Scallops with Medjool Dates, Nantes Carrots, Crosnes, Cilantro Shoots and Madras Curry

Nantucket Bay Scallops with Medjool Dates, Nantes Carrots, Crosnes, Cilantro Shoots and Madras Curry


Sauteed Filet of Black Bass with Petite Onions, Piquillo Peppers, Sunchokes Arugula and Meyer Lemon

Sauteed Filet of Black Bass with Petite Onions, Piquillo Peppers, Sunchokes Arugula and Meyer Lemon


"Caesar Salad" with Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster, Caramelized Romaine Lettuce, Garlic "Pain Perdu," Parmesan Crisp and "Bottarga di Muggine"

“Caesar Salad” with Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster, Caramelized Romaine Lettuce, Garlic “Pain Perdu,” Parmesan Crisp and “Bottarga di Muggine”


Risotto with Shaved Black Truffles

Risotto with Shaved Black Truffles


Devil's Gulch Ranch Rabbit Sirloin with Hobb's Bacon, Butternut Squash, Watercress, Black Truffle and Mission Fig Jus

Devil’s Gulch Ranch Rabbit Sirloin with Hobb’s Bacon, Butternut Squash, Watercress, Black Truffle and Mission Fig Jus


Snake River Farms "Calotte de Boeuf Grillee" with "Ris de Veau," King Trumpet Mushroom, Baby Artichoke and Belgian Endive

Snake River Farms “Calotte de Boeuf Grillee” with “Ris de Veau,” King Trumpet Mushroom, Baby Artichoke and Belgian Endive


"Tomme Corse" (cheese) with San Marzano Tomato Compote, Young Fennel and Nicoise Olives

“Tomme Corse” (cheese) with San Marzano Tomato Compote, Young Fennel and Nicoise Olives


Sour Cherry Sorbet with Coconut "Petit Beurre" and Vanilla "Soda"

Sour Cherry Sorbet with Coconut “Petit Beurre” and Vanilla “Soda”


Alpaco "Mousse au Chocolat" with Spice Pudding, "Panna Cotta," Fuyu Persimmon and Marcona Almond "Glacee"

Alpaco “Mousse au Chocolat” with Spice Pudding, “Panna Cotta,” Fuyu Persimmon and Marcona Almond “Glacee”


"Pommes Anna" with Funnel Cake, "Pruneaux d'Agen," Rum "Anglaise" and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

“Pommes Anna” with Funnel Cake, “Pruneaux d’Agen,” Rum “Anglaise” and Salted Caramel Ice Cream


Housemade Truffles:  Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Meyer Lemon, Ginger, Hazelnut and Pumpkin Pie

Housemade Truffles: Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Meyer Lemon, Ginger, Hazelnut and Pumpkin Pie


A gift of Shortbread Cookies to take home

A gift of Shortbread Cookies to take home


The dining room: understated elegance

The dining room: understated elegance


I got a tour of the kitchen!

I got a tour of the kitchen!


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The French Laundry Garden

The French Laundry Garden


The French Laundry on Urbanspoon

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Going Postal


Great restaurants have not been what comes to mind when thinking of Manhattan Beach, or anywhere in the South Bay for that matter. A beautiful beach, bike-riding, blondes and bars are usually what I associate with this coastal community. But an unexpected and amazing restaurant opened recently and it’s now the first thing I think about when Manhattan Beach is mentioned. MB Post is the first truly spectacular restaurant to open in the South Bay. The restaurant’s name was inspired by the postal office that originally occupied its space and in homage to such origin, upon being seated, you are presented with an envelope with your name on it which contains your menu folded like a letter. As a self-described “Social House,” MB Post has a fun and vivacious atmosphere. Many of the tables are communal and a lively bar serves up delicious original cocktails.

Like Bäco Mercat, which I reviewed a few months ago, the creative and rustic cuisine prepared by genius chef David LeFevre (formerly of the Water Grill) defies classification. With Asian, Moroccan, Mexican and Italian-inspired dishes, the restaurant’s seasonal menu reads like an exotic trip around the world. The dishes are all small plates and are meant for sharing. Everything I have had at MB Post has been excellent, but the one menu item that is an absolute must-have is the Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits with Maple Butter. These biscuits are beyond incredible and the maple butter is insane! Other dishes I love are the Vietnamese Caramel Pork Jowl (pictured above), the Spring Pea Rissotto, the Diver Scallops with Shrimp-Ginger Dumplings and Katsuo Dashi Broth and the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Emmental, Hazelnuts and Sage. If you read this blog regularly, you know how much I love peanut butter, so it’s no surprise that I highly recommend for dessert the “Elvis,” a wonderful mess of chocolate pudding, peanut butter mousse and bacon brittle.

MB Post is located at 1142 Manhattan Ave. in Manhattan Beach. If you don’t live near Manhattan Beach and think it would be too much of a schlep to drive down there for dinner, trust me, it is well worth it.

Yummy Cocktails!

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuit served with Maple Butter

Spring Pea Risotto

Diver Scallops with Shrimp-Ginger Dumplings and Katsuo Dashi Broth

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Emmental, Hazelnuts and Sage

The "Elvis" (chocolate pudding, peanut butter mousse and bacon brittle)

Spiced Apple Hand Pies with Salted Caramel Sauce

Manhattan Beach finally has a truly great restaurant!

MB Post on Urbanspoon

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The Cat’s Meow


I have a friend who is an aspiring comedic screenwriter. He says things like “I’m on a seafood diet — I see food and I eat it.” Not surprisingly, he doesn’t sell a lot of screenplays. But he did introduce me to my favorite seafood restaurant in LA, The Hungry Cat. In stark contrast to stodgy, old school seafood restaurants like McCormick & Schmick’s and Delmonico’s, The Hungry Cat is cool, sleek and modern. It has the best raw bar in the city and amazing, creative seafood concoctions. The Hungry Cat is also a great place to drink and has some of the freshest and tastiest cocktails in town; cocktails such as the Dorian Grey (Earl Grey-infused Plymouth Gin, blood orange, lemon, Sombra Mezcal), the Petula Clark (Pimm’s, Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, lemon, egg whites & house-made absinthe bitters) and the Hot Tamale (Reposado Tequila, orange, and lime juice with Fresno chili simple syrup).

The menu at The Hungry Cat changes daily. I recommend starting with selections from the raw bar. The oysters, lobster and snow crab legs are delicious, but if you want to try something a little different, order the fresh uni served in the shell; if you’ve never scraped sea urchin out of its black, spiny, spherical carapace, you have been missing out! The super-fresh raw fish dishes are ingenious and I recommend ordering at least one. Favorites of mine include the Tandoori Cured Char with Spiced Lebani Yogurt, Cucumber, Pickled Pineapple, Pepper Cress & Dates and the Big Eye Tuna Tartare with White Miso, Pickled Mushrooms, Shiso, Peanuts & Nori Crackers. For entrees, I recommend the House-made Chorizo and Braised Clams with Shell Beans, Black Kale, Grilled Bread & Aioli, as well as the Sea Urchin Risotto with Chanterelles, Slow Cooked Egg and Pea Tendrils. Surprisingly, The Hungry Cat also has a fantastic burger called The Pug Burger, which has blue cheese, bacon, avocado and optional fried egg. I wouldn’t normally order a burger at a seafood restaurant, but if you’re splitting several things, this dog-dubbed dish makes a nice contrast to the Cat’s coastal cuisine.

The Hungry Cat is located at 1535 N. Vine St. in Hollywood and 100 W. Channel Road in Santa Monica. If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on Facebook and/or follow me on twitter at the top right of this page. And please forward to your friends!

Great Cocktails


Oysters and Sea Urchin


Tandoori Cured Char, Spiced Lebani Yogurt, Cucumber, Pickled Pineapple, Pepper Cress & Dates


Big Eye Tuna Tartare, White Miso, Pickled Mushrooms, Shiso, Peanuts & Nori Crackers


Grilled Asparagus, Pancetta, Walnuts, Arugula & Crispy Egg


House-made Chorizo and Braised Clams with Shell Beans, Black Kale, Grilled Bread & Aioli


Sea Urchin Risotto, Chanterelles, Slow Cooked Egg and Pea Tendrils


Best raw bar in LA!




Hungry Cat on Urbanspoon
Hungry Cat on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Hollywood, Santa Monica

Grin and Bear It


Pop quiz:  Little Bear is (a) a series of children’s books by Maurice Sendak, (b) a short, chubby and hairy gay dude, (c) a Belgian-inspired gastropub that I am currently obsessed with, or (d) all of the above.  The answer is (d) but i’m just going to focus on the restaurant here.

This Belgian beer cafe opened three months ago directly across the street from its fancier French cousin, Church & State, in Downtown’s hip and happening Historic Arts District. It’s the newest venture of The Oinkster’s Andre Guerrero and The Surly Goat’s Ryan Sweeney, which I guess means that this bear is the son of a pig and a goat. Little Bear is a fun place to drink. It’s dark, loud and has a cool industrial chic interior with a funky chandelier and Edison bulbs in glass globes dangling from a high ceiling. The rotating beer list is impressive and filled with unusual gems served in specialty glasses.

But this isn’t just a place for drinks; the food is excellent and features updated versions of rustic Belgian fare. First and foremost is a dish I now crave everyday: Gougere Sliders with Fried Oysters, Tartar Sauce, Bacon and Arugula. For the slider buns, Little Bear uses amazing buttery Gruyere cheese puffs! This appetizer is seriously one of the most delicious things to eat in the whole city and I’m surprised it is only on the dinner menu and not available for lunch. Two other dishes I love are the Duck Confit with Dry Cherry Chutney, Kale, Farro Risotto and Kriek, and the combo of Cassoulet, White Beans, Pork Belly, Spicy Sausage, Smoked Slab Bacon and Duck Breast. I also really like the Sauteed Black Tuscan Kale. For dessert, I recommend the Chocolate and Cheese Plate with Cherry Bread Crisps, Port Marmalade & Candied Walnuts, as well as the Chocolate Waffle with a dipping sauce of White Hot Chocolate.

Little Bear is located at 1855 Industrial Street, Los Angeles (Downtown).

Gougere Sliders with Fried Oysters, Tartar Sauce, Bacon and Arugula

Cassoulet, White Beans, Pork Belly, Spicy Sausage, Smoked Slab Bacon, Duck Breast