9575 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
I first heard about Brian Redzikowski when he took over the BondSt restaurant at the Thompson Beverly Hills. My first experience was tainted by a visit to the rooftop bar whose clientelle pretty much typified the douchebag stereotype often applied to LA. It didn't help that the restaurant had been universally panned prior to his arrival, including a zero star review. Still I shouldn't have held it against the young chef, whose background includes stints at Le Bernardin, Matsuhisa in Aspen, and Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. Given his blend of classic French and Japanese training he was probably uniquely positioned to take the restaurant and turn it from staid to stellar.
PASSIONFRUIT - blueberry, prosecco
The meal started with a little welcoming cocktail. Passionfruit is normally such a powerful flavor it was nice to see it effectively harnessed here, balancing well with the lightly effervescent prosecco. Forgive the lack of picture with this course. I accidentally left my camera on overnight and drained the battery. Luckily one of the staff members just happened to have a Nikon dSLR battery with him. Thanks Aaron you are a lifesaver.
TERINNE - "marco pierre white"
Next up was a blend of baby leeks and lobster. The baby leeks were chosen for their high pectin content, a carbohydrate used as a gelling agent, to provide the terrine with structure. Both the lobster and leeks possess a gentle sweetness that compliment one another well but needed something to give the pair a lift. That something was a dollop of caviar whose sharp brine brought the lobster's essence into focus. The dish is named after a famed British chef Marco Pierre White who has been called the "first celebrity chef and was awarded three Michelin Stars at the tender age of 33.
Bloodless Shine - Original Moonshine, cherry tomato, aged balsamic vinegar, bell pepper, sage, basil, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, beet infused horseradish and honey
Looking at the contents of this drink it might actually be good for you. Given the ingredients it is no surprise the drink tastes a lot like a salad, slightly sweet, verdant, and very refreshing.
Polish Punch - Luksusowa vodka, lemon, Funkin pear puree, marjoram, St. Germain, champagne
The second cocktail was an interesting mix, tasting of grapefruit and a disconcerting medicinal flavor that I can only describe as chewable vitamins.
POTATO - chorizo, rosemary
The potato is perfectly fried, deliciously salty and with textures going from crispy to starchy. Meanwhile the sauce, a blend of aerated chorizo and potato, added a delightful smoke to the dish. Even the sprig of rosemary which I thought was just for show was an integral component, adding a wonderfully aromatic herbaceousness to counter the weight of the sauce. This was an absolutely stellar course that my companions and I instantly wanted more of.
ARNOLD PALMER - hot and cold
Next up was a little palate cleanser to mark the midpoint of the meal. We were given sub-zero lemonade with a layer of warm tea on top and told to shoot the mixture. The result was a fun temperature twist on a classic Arnold Palmer.
HALIBUT - black truffle, romaine
The presentation of fish with black truffle shavings and a single lettuce leaf reminded me of a similar technique used at Robuchon which stands to reason given Chef Redzikowski's background. The fish itself was one of the best preparations of halibut I've ever had, a nice buttery brown surface covers a succulent glistening perfectly cooked interior. The black truffles provided a earthy musk so critical with such a mild fish while the single leaf of romaine added a brief bitter counterpoint that lightened the weight of the truffles perfectly.
Gold Rush - Bourbon, lemon, honey
Such a simple cocktail yet so effective, the lemon and honey pair so well with one another and temper the smoky heat of the bourbon. I think I found my new cold fighting drink.
Who's got the Herb - Landy VSOP, tarragon, rosemary, mint, lime, cane syrup, and ginger beer
The final cocktail of the night was also heavy with herbs, but it was the ginger beer that won out giving the drink a delightfully spicy feel.
LAMB - chanterelles, onion
The lamb was served two ways, a tenderloin and terrine with classic accompaniments of chanterelles and onion. The terrine was superb, perhaps the best I've ever tasted, utterly tender with a dark stew-like heft that paired beautifully with the mushroom. The loin offered more of the characteristic game of lamb and paired very nicely with the vegetal sweetness from the onion and asparagus
FLOAT - asahi, acacia honey
We've all heard of Root Beer Floats, but a Beer Float? I had my doubts about how the Asahi would pair with ice cream, extremely well it turns out. The sweet honey ice cream masks the initial attack of the beer leaving only a trace of bittersweet wheat on the finish.
"HALF BAKED" - pistachio, kaffir
My initial thought on trying this course was Cookie Dough Ice Cream. In a testament to just how good this was I got so caught up in the child-like simplicity that I forgot to take any more detailed notes.
I have to say I've never left such a wonderful meal so let down. This was one of those rare experiences where each course leaves you wanting more and each dish is stronger than the last. That made it all the more disappointing when they ran out of the Foie Gras and King Crab. Rather than focus on the sublime food we did enjoy we kept wondering just how good the two courses we missed were. As if that weren't enough, another diner kept reminding us how it was her favorite course and so richly imbued with the essence of crab. Thanks Helen for twisting the knife deeper!
Of course the challenges of the Test Kitchen environment have reared their ugly heads before: an unfamiliar kitchen, a new menu, more covers than normal. Tonight happened to be one of the busiest nights ever at Test Kitchen and being the last table it was inevitable that there would be some problems. Those missteps aside, Chef Redzikowski turned out the best meal I had in 13 trips at Test Kitchen, applying avant-garde techniques to craft dishes that were as exciting to behold as they were delicious.
At the end of the night, Chef Redzikowski apologized for running out of food and graciously promised to make it up to us at Bond St. As a testament to how truly brilliant the food was, when I told my companions that the chef offered to redo this meal for us whenever we wanted one of them hopefully turned to me and said "Tomorrow?"
Thursday, September 23, 2010
9575 W Pico Blvd