Monday, March 29, 2010

The Dining Room - 02/26/2010

1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 568-3900

At long last, The Dining Room. The lone Michelin starred restaurant in Los Angeles that I had yet to visit. In reality the meal was a celebration of sorts, the start-up two of my friends worked at was about to be acquired. We settled on The Dining Room hoping that Chef Voltaggio would be willing to do something special for us and we were not disappointed. We arranged to sample all 21 menu items, split between two people. In addition we asked for and were granted the private dining room, which is normally limited to parties of 8 or more.

Beluga Caviar - Classic Accompaniments, Blinis 2010
Pierre Peters, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Le Mesnil, France
I managed to track down a place that was still selling Beluga caviar. I originally advocated a dedicated Beluga tasting but was overruled by Kevin who suggested incorporating it in a complete meal. Chef Voltaggio was kind enough to accommodate our request, going so far as to come up with a special caviar service that incorporated both classic and ultra-modern accompaniments.

Representing the new, Chef Voltaggio's "Blinis 2010," dollops of creme fraiche frozen using liquid nitrogen. The frozen creme fraiche had an airy texture and mild sweetness very evocative of a classic blini. As the creme fraiche melted, its natural tang came to the fore giving. Next up was a more traditional service using timeless accouterments of blinis, creme fraiche, and egg salad, all made from scratch that very day. The roe itself was stellar, with a delicate balance between sweet nuttiness and subtle salinity that I have never experienced with caviar before. Hands down the best caviar service I've ever had, I only wish I had bought a bigger tin!

To drink we brought a Bollinger Grand Année but yielded to the expertise of our sommelier Josh Goldman. The Pierre Peters he suggested proved to be well suited to the row, dry and yeasty, the austerity paired well with the richness of the roe.

Amuse: Sake Gelée - Fraises des Bois, Strawberry Tonic
The amuse consisted of an absolutely brilliant strawberry concotion bursting with layers of fresh berry flavor tempered by a slight burn from the sake.

01: Langoustine - White Asparagus, Tiny Eggs, Fried Calamari
2007 Paul Pernot, Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy, France
A barely touched langoustine marked the start of the official menu. Just what you'd expect from barely cooked shellfish, soft and slick with an inner resistance. The nori was integral to the dish adding some ocean notes and punctuating the sweetness of the shellfish. The fried calamari was a bit surprising, with a piercing saltiness and robust crispness that reminded me of a pork rind, the intensity of this morsel at odds with the subtle nature of the rest of the dish. The saline and minerality of the wine tied perfectly to the essence of the calamari and langoustine.

02: Japanese Shima Aji - Jamon Iberico, Sea Sponge, Finger Lime
Terres Dorées, FRV100, Effervescent Gamay, Beaujolais
The paired course was a Japanese Shima Aji. Softer and milder than I remember, the hard pops of the finger lime added a distinctive mouth feel and light tang to the fish. For me the sea sponge was the kicker, a mix of mirin and dashi, the sponge gave the fish enough flavor to stand up to the decadent Iberico ham on equal terms. The pairing was a sparking Gamay delightfully sweet and light, a fine contrast for the power of the ham.

03: Garden Harvest - Vegetables of the Season, Warm Burrata
1999 S. Tissot, Vin Jaune, Arbois, France
We were each given our own serving of this course. With 20 distinct vegetables, the chef was afraid we wouldn't get the full effect if we only ate half a serving. This style of vegetable composition called Gargouillou was pioneered by Chef Michael Bras. The bright colors lend the dish a fresh lively air and the disparate elements combine to form a a broad array of flavors and textures. The sherry-like character of the wine complimented the darker bitter elements of the dish but was a bit strong for the sweeter and lighter vegetables.

04: Tasmanian Sea Trout - Hibiscus, Pink Peppercorn, Puffed Mushroom Cracker
2008 Sant'Elena, Traminer Aromatico, Delle Venezie, Friuli Venezie Giulia, Italy
Perhaps the most brilliantly prepared trout I've ever tasted, lusciously tender with a rich sea essence accented nicely by the floral bite of the pink peppercorn. The hibiscus added acidity but the intensity was a touch overwhelming. The Sant'Elena proved to be an incredibly aromatic wine, the tropical fruit nose fitting more with the hibiscus and peppercorns than the fish itself.

05: Octopus - Buttered Popcorn, Piquillo Confetti, Cilantro
Dewazakura Brewery, Izumi Judan, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan
The rest of the group quite enjoyed the octopus but I thought the texture was a touch tough though the smoky piquillo was the perfect accompaniment. The popcorn while tasty didn't match with the lighter body of the octopus. The full-bodied Izumi Judan added a notable essence of Juniper, whose refined herbal flavor helped rein in the intensity of the dish.

06: Foie Gras "Froid" - Apple, Saffron, Marcona Almond, Aerated Brioche
Lustau, Solera Reservera, Don Nuno, Dry Oloroso, Jerez, Spain
The next set of courses was a hot/cold duo of foie gras. The cold foie looked like a typical cylinder but that would just be too simple, instead the interior was filled with a jammy sweet apple juice. The aerated brioche was an interesting departure from the crisper brioche that normally accompanies a cold foie preparation. The sherry was a drier example, with deep essences of of wood and nuts, a bit austere for my tastes.

07: Foie Gras "Chaud" - Celery, Medjool Date, Mustard Sabayon
Lustau, Solera Reserva, Emilín, Moscatel Sherry, Jerez, Spain
A spot on preparation of warm foie gras. Cooking tends to intensify the foie's natural flavor hence the need for an accompaniment to balance the unctuousness. More and more restaurants are pairing hot foie with bitter or vegetal accompaniments which I find far superior to the more traditional preserved fruit. Another sherry from the same producer but this time with a thicker more viscous mouth feel and more apparent sweetness, a no brainer for foie.

08: Veal Sweetbreads - Green Olive, Lemon, Romaine Lettuce
2007 Dönnhoff, Riesling, Nahe, Germany
Continuing on with the organ meat next up was a single cube of sweetbreads loaded with the typical offally character. As with the hot foie, the heft of the sweetbreads is countered using brisk acidity and herbaceous components with a hefty dose of succulence from the lettuce. Intriguing pairing a riesling with sweetbreads, but the fruit forward nose and sweetness balanced the richness of the sweetbreads.

09: Kurobuta Pork Belly - Bok Choy "Kim Chi", Kabocha Squash Preserves, Peanut Butter Powder
Hitachino Nest, Real Ginger Brew, Kiuchi Brewery, Japan
Pork belly should be a gimme dish, the rich layers of fat are hard to screw up. But the dry dull lean portions can really drag this dish down. Here the fat was semi-molten and the meat supple and tender giving the belly a savory component. The sweetness of the squash preserves added to the weight of the dish but the vegetal spice of the kim chi proved to be a deft counter. The ginger beer might have been the most apt selection of the night, the spicy bite and ginger paired seamlessly with the pork belly.

10: Pastrami Pigeon - Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, Rye
Duchesse de Bourgogne, Ale, Brewery Verhaeghe, West Flanders, Belgium
Typical preparations of pigeon tend to focus on the savoriness of the bird but here the meat was thoroughly infused with the distinctive brine of a Reuben sandwich. Paired with classic accompaniments, the bird served as an admirable replacement for the corned beef with a substantial meatiness not typically associated with squab. Just as the flavor of the bird was intensified, so too was the pairing. The explosive sour cherry of the Duchesse reminded me of a pinot noir concentrated several times over, perfect with the boldness of the pastrami pigeon.

11: Jidori Chicken - Winter Truffles, Egg, Sunflower Root, Sunflower Seeds
2007 Geyerhof, Ried Richtern, Zweigelt, Kremstal, Austria
Contrasting the meatiness of the other bird is a sliver of perfectly cooked chicken. Though the headline ingredient, the chicken was hardly the star of the show with. Rather it was the combination of the silky egg yolk whose hearty flavor worked wonders when combined with combined with truffles. I was expecting a white to go with the chicken but Josh chose an Austrian Zweigelt, an enjoyable blend of fruits predominantly dark cherry with some underlying spice.

12: Skate Wing - Brown Butter, Scrambled Cauliflower, Caper Powder
2008 Mormoraia, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy
The first of the "middle" courses was a skate win steeped in a potent brown butter sauce. The capers and bitter cauliflower helped counter he heaviness of the brown butter. The dish also came with a side of seaweed mashed potatoes whose starchiness also went a long way towards balancing this dish and refocusing attention on the fish. The abundant stone fruit and acidity of the wine sliced right through the heft of the brown butter.

13: Mediterranean Sea Bass - Mussels Billi-bi, Fennel, Quinoa
2007 Chateau La Rouvière, Rosé, Bandol, Provence, France
A quintessential sea bass, mild firm flesh with a backing of perfectly crisp skin. The creamy mussel soup adds a briny essence enlivening the lightly flavored fish coupled with the light shading herbal sweetness of the fennel really completed this dish for me. The rose offered well defined strawberry notes on the nose and a soft peppery bite on the palate, subtle and quite enjoyable with the fish.

14: Milk-Fed Veal Breast - Risotto, Broccoli, Fiscalini Cheddar
2008 Julien Frémont, Cidre Brut, Normandy, France
I wonder if Chef Voltaggio was going for some sort of breakfast vibe with this course. The veal, typically a bland meat was so flavorful I could have easily mistaken this for ham an expressive and hearty mix with the creamy risotto and melted cheddar. An intense farmhouse cider, the funky nose played very well with the rustic nature of the dish.

15: Jamison Farm Lamb - Vadouvan, Nori-Spaghetti Squash, Yogurt, Fried Rice
2007 Bibich, Riserva, North Dalmatia, Croatia
My first thought was chili corn nuts which probably has to do with the combination of the curry essence of the vadouvan and the tanginess of the yogurt. The dish deserves a much more elaborate explanation but for the life of me all I can think of is that corn nuts. The Bibich is a blend of Croatian grapes related to the Zinfandel varietal and displayed similar notes of pepper and dark fruit.

16: Wagyu Short Rib - Smoked Potato "Tots", Nantes Carrots, White Ketchup
2001 COS, Nero d'Avola, Sicilia, Italy
Short rib often come laden with plenty fat, coming from Wagyu stock the amount of fat boarders on heart stopping. Some bites of the beef felt like eating rendered essence of pure beef. The meat is absolutely delicious but hard to enjoy alone in all but the smallest quantities. The "sexy tomato seeds" from The Bazaar make an appearance here and help immensely to cut insanely powerful unctuousness. A big powerful wine would be needed to stand up to the short rib and the COS was just that, abundant jammy fruits as well as herbs and tobacco and even some meatiness.

17: Japanese Kuroge Beef - Marrow Toast, King Trumpet, Bordelaise Sauce
2000 R. Lopez de Heredia, Viña Tondonia, Reserva, Rioja, Spain
After having my senses blown by the short rib the steak tasted almost normal by comparison. The accompaniments were relatively tame by the standards set so far. Still at this point a classic steak was probably all that my worn out palate could appreciate. A rioja with some sour fruit and minerality as well as a somewhat rustic complexion that tied the dish to the marrow and earthy mushrooms.

Intermezzo: "Cookies & Milk"
We all laughed when we saw this dish, think Dippin' Dots meets Oreo Cookies.

18: Lavender Flower Macaron - Crème Fraiche Panna Cotta, Vanilla-Passion Sorbet, Floral Cotton Candy
2000 Patricius, 5 Puttonyos, Tokaji, Hungary
This is my style of dessert combining the bright acidity of fresh fruit with a simple sugary sweetness. The floral cotton candy and lavender macaron drive this dish but the tangy panna cotta and dazzling sorbet keep the dish light and lively while the sugary sweet tokaji took some of the edge off the acidity of the dish itself.

19: Baba Au Rhum - Textures of Coconut and Pineapple
2004 Weingut Rosenhof, TBA Chardonnay, Illmitz, Austria
This was more a study of fresh fruit than a pastry with the rum heightening the tropical feel of the dish. Humorously, the vibrant fruit flavors can be summed up in three words "white gummi-bear"

20: Fools Gold - Chocolate, Salty Hazelnut Praline, Milk Sorbet
1989 L'Étoile, Cuvée Réservée, Grand Cru, Banyuls, Roussillon, France
This was the only course I've tasted previously, having been on the menu at Hatchi. The base is a rich chocolate ganache topped with a classic hazelnut accompaniment that tastes like a cross between salted caramel and a Ferrero Rocher. The sorbet cleanses the palate after each sugary bite, just like washing down a thick brownie with a glass of milk.

21: Sticky Toffee Pudding - Jasmine "Rice Cream", Lime, Banana Custard
1998 Domaine Fontanel, Rivesaltes Ambré, Roussillon, France
I was expecting more salty/sweet goodness from this course but the pudding turned out to be substantially lighter than the Fools Gold. Instead I got the disconcerting fragrance of the Jasmine "Rice Cream" which reminded me a lot of dinnertime at home.

I had the opportunity to get an early look at The Dining Room under Chef Voltaggio at Hatchi. I remember thinking the food was still a bit rough around the edges and the influence from his time at The Bazaar too apparent. Since then he has grown by leaps and bounds, using some of the same techniques but putting his own personal stamp on the food. I came to the restaurant with high expectations and this meal utterly shattered them. It wasn't just Chef Voltaggio who went all out for this meal but the Sommelier Josh Goldman who paired 21 distinct wines, one for each course. I can't wait to see what the two of them have in store for us at the revamped Dining Room.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Six - 02/24/2010

10668 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 837-6662

Kevin was kind enough to invite me to a media dinner at The Six. A "gastrobistro" combining the best elements of a gastropub and bistro, basically good food and beer. The restaurant is run by Chef David Gussin, previously of Petrossian where he worked with Chef Benjamin Bailly. Under Chef Gussin, The Six serves up comfortable New American style food, relying on seasonal ingredients and tailoring dishes to match the freshest and most flavorful produce. The interior has a rough yet inviting feel, utilizing recycled materials scavenged from defunct movie sets and simple functional furniture.

01: Hamachi Ceviche - pancetta / tangerine³ / pickled jalapeno / crispy red onion
Our amuse was a flash marinated yellowtail ceviche, leaving the natural flavor of the fish intact although tinged with a slight tang. The fish itself was flabby and one dimensional but the compliments included an array of sweet and sour flavor as well as tangerine 3 ways (fruit, juice, and zest) which covered both ends of the spectrum. The crisp savory pancetta proved to be the best part of this dish, drawing appreciative murmurs and comments from the entire table.

02: Beet Panzanella - mission figs / ricotta superfina / bacon / wild rocket / sherry almond vinaigrette
Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that combines staple ingredients of bread, tomato, olive oil and vinegar with whatever leftovers happen to be handy. Chef Gussin used beets instead of tomatoes to give the dish a wintery feel. Though I am fairly ambivalent about beets, the rocket and vinaigrette helped dull their flavor while the ricotta added a smooth creaminess to the dish.

03: Wild Mushrooms - chanterelles / black trumpet / hedgehog / maitake / shitake / oyster / poached egg
Chef Gussin mentioned that he gets his mushrooms fresh from a local forager. The subtle textural interplay between the mushrooms is tied together by an overarching earthiness. The lush coating of liquid egg yolk was unnecessary but still most welcome.

04: Crispy Jidori Chicken Thigh - butternut squash apple hash / sage / pomegranate gastrique
Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most impressive. The thigh was cooked beautifully; the golden and crisp skin covering a layer of juicy supple meat.

05: Prince Edward Island Mussels - spanish chorizo fumet / confit garlic / grilled ciabatta
I am always intrigued by mussels, they can be hit or miss. These proved to be quite good, the natural sweetness of the mussels coming to the fore along with a rich lingering smokiness from the chorizo.

06: BBT - applewood smoked bacon / basil / oven dried tomato
The Six places an extraordinary emphasis on sourcing the ingredients and the importance was especially apparent with this course. The bacon comes from a small producer in Louisiana and exhibited a wonderful flavor, salty and rich but not overly heavy, just the thing to add weight to the fragrant basil and lush tomato.

07: Six Burger Slider - red onion rings / maytag blue / thousand island / butter lettuce / tomato
The next two courses are miniaturized versions of two of the restaurants burgers. First up a classic burger with all the fixings; enjoyable but lacking the creativity of the other courses

08: Banh Mi Slider - roasted pork belly / jalapeno jam / cilantro aioli / sweet pickled carrots / cucumber
The next burger was an interesting transformation of the classic Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. The pork patty and roasted pork belly were too heavy on their own but the addition of fresh and pickled vegetables lightened the burger considerably.

09: Scallop - "scalloped" kennebec potato / chive jus
I recently had a similar combination of potato and scallop. Unexpectedly the two mix quite well, scallop's luxuriousness contrasting nicely with the rustic bite of the potato.

10: Local Halibut - truffled artichoke heart puree / topanga mountain chanterelles in natural jus
ext up we had some more of Chef Gussin's secret locally sourced mushrooms. The fish itself was incredibly soft, with a subtle char and salinity, clean and fresh the way halibut should be. Delicious with the mushrooms which imparted a pronounced earthiness and finished with subtle hint of fresh herb.

11: Broccoli Rabe Bisque - cheddar tuile / framboise head
I never expect soup to be the most aggressively flavorful dish but this proved to be both the most intense and most talked about course of the night. The broccoli rabe coated the tongue with a powerful bitterness that coated the tongue and lingered on the palate. Interestingly some diners felt the cheese undercut the pungency while others felt that it heightened the bitterness.

12: Grant Achatz Hot Potato - cold potato / truffle / butter
The second soup was Chef Gussin's take on an old favorite from Alinea. The dish combines a trio of ingredients inc a classic flavor profiles which shifts focus to the interplay between the hot/cold temperatures.

13: Pastrami Spiced Prime NY - caraway spaetzle / "fresh" sauerkraut / roasted veal jus
The savories ended on a high note. The tender New York steak was shot through with flavors of pepper, smoke, and classic pastrami brine. The accouterments turned this from a merely a delicious piece of meat to an elegant Reuben sandwich, a childhood favorite of the chef.

14: Peanut Butter Cookie - bananas foster ice cream / candied pecans
The peanut butter cookie was somewhat bland but the intensity of the bananas foster ice cream more than made up for it.

15: Beignets - powdered sugar / fig jam
The beignets themselves almost had a savoriness to them which contrasted with the light dusting of powdered sugar and sticky sweet jam.

16: Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich - strawberry-smoked black pepper ice cream
This dessert was definitely not designed for sharing. Trying to cut the rock-hard cookie only served to squeeze the ice cream onto the plate. Forgetting the cookie the ice cream drew raves from the table, easily the best part of dessert.

Not a bad place to grab a drink and a quick bit or have a casual dinner with friends The food proved to be quite enjoyable offering a mix of very approachable dishes as well as a few courses that wouldn't be out of place at a more upscale restaurant with enough flair to intrigue even a palate as jaded as mine
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Petrossian - 02/15/2010

321 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 271-6300

Petrossian, the very name is synonymous with caviar and with good reason, the brothers Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian were largely responsible for bringing appreciation of caviar to France on the heels of the Bolshevik Revolution. The family-owned company is still best known for its caviar but has expanded its offering to include other gourmet food gifts including foie gras, and chocolates.

Though their boutique in Los Angeles has been open since 2001 the restaurant is a new addition courtesy of a 2009 remodeling. Since then, the restaurant has that has been garnering a lot of attention from local bloggers. I believe a large part of that is due to the restaurant's young chef, Benjamin Bailly.

During the meal Chef Bailly was kind enough to give us a brief bio. In an admirable display of self-awareness, Chef Bailly realized he wanted to be a chef at the tender age of 14. The bulk of his career was spent with Joel Robuchon, hopping around the globe, expanding the Robuchon franchise. The experience he gained there allowed him to take the helm of his own restaurant at the age of 27.

A friend of mine is an acquaintance of the chef and he asked if it would be possible to do a special tasting menu. Chef Bailly, who is normally constrained by the corporate vision for the restaurant seemed quite eager for a chance to let his creativity show, going so far as to come in on his day off to cook for us.

Hibiscus Champagne
The meal started with a complimentary glass of Hibiscus Champagne, the floral hibiscus softening the crispness of the champagne and providing a delightfully sweet treat at the end, like an adult Fruit Rollup.

Caviar Surprise - King crab, apple cider
Mysteriously I had a very similar course at The in Little Washington not too long ago. Chef Bailly actually designed this course was an homage to a similar course at Robuchon. This might have been my first experience with Transmountanus Caviar and I immediately noticed the sharper, more aggressive salinity, almost verging on astringent. A bit strong on its own, the caviar's intensity seemed to amplify the contrasting sweetness of the king crab. A superb course, I'd return just to get another helping of this.

Steak Tartare - Sushi style, caviar
This is a twist on a regular menu item. Instead the steak comes wrapped in soy paper and topped with another incredibly generous helping of Transmountanus Caviar. The intensity of the roe made it ideally suited to this pairing, adding the perfect amount of saltiness to the almost untouched beef.

Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, France, NV
After finishing the Hibiscus Champagne, we felt more bubbles would be appropriate given the caviar-heavy menu.

Foie Gras Crème Brûlée - Green apple espuma
After a salt heavy opening duo, Chef Bailly switched gears going to sweet for his next course. The foie gras reminded me of a thick whipped cream shot through with sweetness and an undertone of characteristic foie gras flavor. The green apple espuma added a playful tartness that helped to lighten the dish. There is enough foie gras to make this a savory course though I'd be equally happy to see this course on the dessert menu.

Shrimp Papillote - Passionfruit, chili ginger sauce
Probably the most simply presented dish of the night, and also one of my favorites. The shrimp was absolutely perfect, with a crisp body similar to a barely poached lobster or langoustine brimming with natural sweetness. The sauce as a lively mix of bright acidity and flashes of Thai-like spice, a very bold and direct course. Right up there with the Caviar Surprise as a favorite.

Mona Lisa Potato - Coddled egg, caviar
We wondered what made a "Mona Lisa Potato," turns out "Mona Lisa" is the name of the potato rather than a preparation. The potato itself felt lighter an expected, perhaps lightly whipped which took off some of the gravity of the starchy tuber. Beneath the sea of foamy white soup was a lightly cooked egg whose silky smooth yolk provided a subtle yet complex textural contrast. An island of more of Transmountanus Caviar rested atop the egg, adding some much needed flavor to the entire dish.

Maine Lobster Nage - Cantaloupe, nectarine
Not sure exactly if this qualifies as another soup course on account of the whole lobster tail sitting smack dab in the middle of the bowl. However, it was the powerful scent of shellfish tinged butter from the thick lobster nage that captured my attention. Alone the soup would have been too imposing; the fruit was absolutely vital, adding enough acidity and sugar to temper the full-force of the nage.

Caviar Pizza - Crème fraîche, capers, red onions
This was one of the more intriguing menu items, and it came out exactly as I would have expected. Flatbread covered with a sauce of crème fraîche serves as the crust while classic accompaniments of onion and caper along with the caviar make up the toppings. This would have been more delicious had I not been so full but trying to keep down all the crème fraîche was quite daunting by this point.

Crispy Egg - Cippolini onion soubise, caviar
If we hadn't had enough cholesterol or caviar, the next course was sure to fix that. The focus of the course was on the egg, breaded and crispy on the outside but molten gold on the inside. The two preparations came with slightly different caviars, one the same Transmountanus caviar and the other a pressed version, in essence a concentrated caviar paste. Though the pressed caviar had more flavor I found it a bit one dimensional when compared to the natural version.

Skate Wing Grenobloise - Crushed potato, brown butter, caper, sherry vinegar
By this point I was quite literally willing the kitchen to bring out less food. Instead I got two generous pieces of remarkably tender skate wing. What caught my attention was the vividly contrasting flavors of the brown butter and sherry vinegar vying for dominance.

Veal Sweet Bread - Baby spinach, hen of the wood, parmesan
Finally the last savory, a generous portion of sweet bread redolent with organy goodness and a slightly piquant finish. The accompaniments provided earthy rustic tones which paired quite nicely with the richness of the thymus.

Intermezzo: Tsar Imperial Ossetra Caviar - Crème fraîche, blini
It would have been a shame had we missed out on a traditional caviar preparation at Petrossian but that tragedy was averted thanks to Chef Bailly's continued largesse. What a way to end the savory courses, a generous spoonful of gold and green pearls.

Pistachio Crème Brûlée - Macerated strawberry, hibiscus
This crème brûlée was going to have to be a thing of beauty if it was going to displace the one I had earlier. While it didn't, I quite enjoyed the interplay of the nuanced pistachio hues and the sweet/sour character of the fruit.

Gianduja Parfait - Hazelnut biscut, vanilla marscarpone
By this point we were down to one serving for the entire table. Just craving a taste I had a small bite but was still able to appreciate the complexity of the chocolate. Combined with the hazelnut this tasted a lot like Nutella or a Ferrero Rocher.

Without a doubt this was the fullest I have ever been after a meal. Thankfully the staff was in no rush and we spent a good deal of time recovering and talking with the chef. The chef mentioned that he came up with a small plates menu that was shot down because it ran counter to the image Petrossian was trying to project. It was evident that Chef Bailly chafes at the limits imposed on him not in the name of good food but rather a cold impartial business decision made by someone miles distant. Hopefully the powers that be realize antagonizing your chef isn't the best idea and give him some more leeway to experiment with the menu. I mean why hire a chef with his experience if you are then just going to hobble him.

Right before we left we got a quick tour of where the magic happens. A mere four burners, and a single deep frier handle all of the hot food the kitchen puts out. Chef Bailly remarked this was a far cry from the generously equipped kitchens of Joel Robuchon and that the resource constraints were a key consideration in composing the menu.

While the Petrossian name is synonymous with caviar, don't think the restaurant is a one trick pony. Even with the constraints imposed by the company, Chef Bailly has created enough intriguing courses that I wouldn't mind revisiting Petrossian again in the near future.

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