9360 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
It isn't often that I revisit a restaurant so soon after a meal but considering we were denied the complete experience Chef Redzikowski offered to redo the meal at our convenience. Considering that I'd be out of town for two weeks, I wanted to redo the dinner quickly as these things have a habit of falling by the wayside over time. In the interest of full disclosure, Chef Redzikowski generously offered to cover the cost of the entire meal.
At the start of the meal, Chef Redzikowski apologized again for running out of food and explained how it happened. Originally he wanted to do 20-25 covers at Test Kitchen but the restaurant management felt that was too few to be profitable. Chef Redzikowski then raised the number to 40 and finally settled on 60 covers. He and his staff wisely prepped for 70 diners to account for walk-ins and any unexpected mistakes. Turns out on the day of the meal, there were 80+ people booked for the evening though Redzikowski received assurances that people will inevitably cancel. Well turns out his food was in such high demand that everybody showed up and more.
LYCHEE MARTINI - belvedere vodka
Not surprising to see this on the menu at Bond Street. Quite played out but still enjoyable.
"PEEPING TOM" - veev, cherry tomatoes, mint
I've been so spoiled by Test Kitchen's ever changing selection of high-quality cocktails that I couldn't settle for something as conservative as a lychee martini. Instead I chose a cocktail of acai berry coupled with muddled tomatoes giving the sweet berry concoction a shade of savoriness that proved quite delicious.
BIG EYE TUNA TART - micro shiso, white truffle oil
The meal started off with a brand new course that amounted to a tuna pizetta, a thin cracker covered with a layer of fresh tuna topped with onion and micro shiso then drizzled with truffle oil. The fish itself is good but nothing spectacular, instead it is the accompaniments in conjunction with the fish, from the fresh shiso to the crisp texture of the crust and of course the earthy musk of the truffle oil.
KING CRAB - "in its butter," meyer lemon
Unfortunately this was one of the courses that ran out during the Claustro dinner at Test Kitchen and based on accounts of diners who tried it, one of the strongest. The course lived up to all expectations the crab's natural sweetness is enhanced by an intoxicating elixir of butter seasoned with the essence of crab. A soft tinge of lemon comes out on the finish and adds some contrast to the heft of the buttery crab.
LANGOUSTINE - potato, chorizo
Last time the potato and chorizo was one of the most spectacular courses, this time around the course gained a third component: langoustine. The initial focus is on the langoustine with its delicately tender crunch. The lithe shellfish is complimented by the gravity of a potato cream and a airy saltiness from the porcine chorizo foam.
STRIPED BASS - root vegetable, romaine, truffle
I can definitely see the impact of Chef Redzikowski's time at Robuchon in this course. The fish itself is expertly cooked flaky and tender with a crisp flavorful skin, it would have been superb even on its own. The addition of celery root and romaine added a complex bitter levity that countered the richness of the truffle.
SPOT PRAWN - lemon
It was only fitting that we be served at least one true sushi course. Though this was called Spot Prawn, it looked, tasted, and was prepared in a classic sweet shrimp style down to the fried head. The flavor was exactly like a sweet shrimp as well, crunchy with a creamy sweetness upon mastication.
BAY SCALLOP - potato, truffle
I would have expected the truffle shavings to be overwhelming but the flavor was quite subtle, a natural pairing to the starchy potato sphere and sweetness of the bay scallops.
JIDORI THIGH - tempura, pumpkin, maple
One of my companions likened this to a high end chicken nugget. Indeed, the crispy tempura batter and tender chicken possess a simple sapor similar to a that childhood favorite. The sauce was a mix of creamy pumpkin and maple foam. My companions noted the maple overwhelms the pumpkin though considering none of us was wild about pumpkin that was probably a good thing.
FOIE GRAS - liquid ravioli
This was the second of the two courses that ran out during the first dinner. The description reminded me of a fried liquid foie gras that Ludo made at the end of LudoBites 2.0, the ravioli bursting with a luscious broth of melted foie gras.
MEAT & POTATOES - leeks, teriyaki
The last course was a simple meat and potatoes. The potatoes are whipped to a near creamlike consistency, the leeks are cooked giving them an almost fried onion like consistency and flavor. The beef itself is remarkably dense and succulent. Not quite as complex as the earlier courses but very easy to enjoy.
FLOAT - asahi, acacia honey
Another most welcome holdover, the yeasty beer pairs remarkably well with the honeyed sweetness of the ice cream.
BOMBOLONI - raspberry, dulce de leche
Apparently this classic Tuscan pastry is a homonym for a "large bomb" and there is even a pop song that plays on the double meaning of the word. Texturally this reminded me of a jelly doughnut, with a sweet airy exterior coupled with a caramel essence and tart jammy fruit. This would have been my favorite if not for the otherworldly mochi donuts.
CHOCOLATE RIBBON - figs, yogurt chips
Probably the least interesting of the four desserts. The ribbon itself is an exquisitely smooth rich chocolate ganache but the yogurt and figs are easily lost against the heavy chocolate.
"HALF BAKED" - pistachio, kaffir
Living up to the name, the dessert does taste remarkably like raw cookie dough. Last time I was so busy stuffing my face that I couldn't be bothered to take detailed notes. The dessert is just as delicious the second time around and those detailed notes just as elusive.
MOCHI DONUTS - candied rhubarb, yogurt, coconut ice cream
This is Chef Redzikowski's signature dessert, the tiny mochi balls have a brulee-like outer coating and springy starchy interior. Even on their own, I would have eaten a dozen of these without pausing for breath but the delectable spheres are made even better with the fruity sweetness of the rhubarb and coconut as well as the tang of the yogurt.
At the end of the meal Chef Redzikowski came out and talked with us and gave us a tour of the kitchen. Most interestingly, he talked about his concept behind his Claustro restaurant. His vision is for an intimate dining room doing about 20-25 covers a night with a multi-course tasting menu. He is currently looking at a positively lilliputian space with the dining room a mere 825 square feet in size.
Chef Redzikowski mentioned the complaint he gets most often is that the courses are a bit small, still I was happily full after the tasting menu. One thing I noticed is that a number of ingredients (potato, truffle) are in numerous items on the menu. While some might see this as a limitation, I think the chef uses these ingredients masterfully and produces dishes that are a joy to eat. Rest assured I am eagerly looking forward to what he does with his own restaurant and I've already secured a verbal promise of seats for opening night.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
9360 Wilshire Blvd