Friday, September 19, 2008

Water Grill - 08/31/2008

544 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 891-0900

The fourth of five planned 5x5 dinners was held at the Water Grill. The previous two at Providence and Melissé had both been excellent and I was looking forward to a similar experience here. The format of the meal is similar to the two previous dinners, the host chef prepares the amuse, and the house pastry chef prepares the dessert. Each of the other 4 chefs and 1 visiting chef each prepare one course. The guest chef at Water Grill was Giuseppe Tentori of Boka in Chicago. Part of the proceeds from the dinner go to support the Southern California chapter of the Special Olympics.

Bread - Sourdough, Olive, French
The evening's bread selection was a bit disappointing, all of the breads were bland and a bit dry.

Kanpachi and Pineapple in a Daikon Cup - The fish had a nice texture but that was all I could determine about it. The daikon cup was far to intense, overwhelming the natural flavor of the fish.

Risotto Balls with Saffron, Papaya, and Andouille Sausage - I was intrigued when I heard the term risotto ball. I imagined creamy rice hidden within the fried shell but when I bit into this I couldn't detect much rice. The flavor, while not unpleasant, was a bit muddled for me.

Foie Gras with Orange Konjac Gelée and Orange Zest - Easily my favorite of the three canapes. The buttery-soft foie was accented wonderfully by the citrus notes of the gelée and the zest.

Amuse: Uni - with Fennel Sorbet and Tonburi
Chef David Lefevre, Water Grill
Bruno Gobillard, Vieilles Vignes, Brut, Champagne, France NV
The uni was quite good on its own, not the sweetest I have tasted, but with a clean finish that indicated its freshness. The fennel sorbet and radish salad provided contrasting flavors that paired surprisingly well with the roe. However, I could have done with less tonburi or land caviar. The seeds had relatively little flavor, but their texture was a bit harder than I cared for and really disrupted the silky smooth feel of the uni.

01: Big Eye Tuna Sashimi - with Petite Mache, Jicima, Watermelon, Pineapple, Quinoa, Overcooked Quail's Egg, and Shellfish Emulsion.
Chef Giuseppe Tentori, Boka
Villa Sparina, Gavi di Gavi, Piedmont, Italy 2006
Looking at this, I thought there was no way the essence of the fish would survive intact but it did. The tuna came topped with a variety of fruit and grain that were all pleasantly mild.

02: Pan Roasted Sea Scallop - with American Caviar, Yukon Gold Potato, and Lemon Zest
Chef Michael Cimarusti, Providence Restaurant
Hogl, Gruner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau, Austria 2006
A delicious if fairly safe course. The lemon and caviar added the right flavors to truly make this dish shine. The scallop was one of the finest I have ever tasted, meaty and fresh with the classic sweetness of premium shellfish. My only complaint was the scallop was just a hair tougher than I'd have liked.

03: Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Risotto - with Asparagus
Chef Gino Angelini, Osteria Angelini and La Terza
Jaffurs, Viognier, Santa Barbara, California 2007
Another promising course, sadly I found this one sorely lacking. The key ingredient, the prawn was nigh inedible, so soft that I could mash it into paste with my tongue. The risotto was good but not particularly special, certainly not as strong as many I have had in recent memory.

04: Roasted John Dory - with Mushroom Tart, Chorizo-Torpedo Onion Marmalade, Red Wine Mushroom Jus
Chef Josiah Citrin, Mélisse Restaurant
Quattro Mani, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy 2006
My companions seemed to find this fish a bit of a let down, but I thought it quite good. The fish was soft and flaky very mild in flavor, it relied on the red wine and mushroom tart for flavor. I thought the flavor of the tart quite nice, I just wish it were more crisp and flaky.

05: Hawaiian Mero - with Kobe Oxtail and Red Wine Sauce
Chef Walter Manzke
Demetria, Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, California 2005
This looked very similar to a dish I had at Bastide while Manzke was there. The Mero wasn't quite as good as in past experiences, the fish was a touch dry for me, but still decent. To the left is celery root topped with bacon. I found the celery root was a bit tough and the flavor tended to linger after the bacon was gone. Next to that is carrot topped with bone marrow. The marrow added an super-oily feel to the soft sweet carrot. Last was roasted potato topped with braised Wagyu oxtail.

06: Yogurt Parfait - with Cherries, White Nectarine Sorbet, and Clementine Sauce
Joseph Phelps Eisrébe, Napa Valley, California 2006
The parfait was served as a pure white cube, reminding me of a block of virgin marble. For me the star of this dessert was the sorbet, infused with the pure essence of nectarines, its sweetness was the perfect foil for the tartness of the yogurt.

Mignardises - Churros, Valrhona Chocolate Shortbread, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Pistachio Macarons, Chocolate Macarons, Peach Petit Fours, Chocolate Bonbons, Malted Chocolate Ice Cream Lollipops
One of the most elaborate plates of mignardieses I have seen in a while. The standouts were the churro and the lollipops.

This was a very good meal but it fell short of the lofty standard set by the previous two 5x5 dinners. Most of the dishes had some flaw that kept them from being truly stellar. The past two meals, there seemed to be a line out the door, but this time it felt like we were the only ones in the restaurant. In addition, not once did I see the chefs come out to greet guests. I wonder if the timing of the dinner, the day before Labor Day, had anything to do with the lackluster turnout. I really hope the dinner at La Terza returns to the levels of the first two.


Food, she thought. said...

I am really sorry I missed this one. Water Grill is about a mile from my house. I was out of town.

Also, I really like how close you get in some of your shots. What are you shooting with? I didn't see anything special in terms of camera the other night at La Terza.

Tangbro1 said...

Water Grill was much less hectic than La Terza. From what I heard they want to do a final 5x5 dinner at one of the Patina Group restaurants

I use a point and shoot Canon SD600 on macro mode. It is a pretty pathetic camera but it gets the job done and it is small.