8370 W 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (aka Two Dudes) quickly made a name for themselves with Animal, their temple to over-the-top rich simply delicious flavor. Since then the two have discussed a veritable laundry list of ideas including a sandwich shop, seafood restaurant, and even a BBQ joint.
Today they finally realized one of those ambitions with the long-awaited Son of a Gun. Focusing on seafood, the term Son of a Gun comes from British naval slang and refers to "a child of questionable parentage conceived on the gun deck." Reflecting the incredible anticipation surrounding the restaurant, the reservation line opened at 2:00PM and by 2:45PM the restaurant was booked solid for the whole week. Fortunately I was able to snag one of the 27 seats reserved for walk-ins, 22 at the communal table and 5 at the bar. The whole restaurant has a casual feel, that reminded me of a neighborhood restaurant in a fishing town.
SQUID SALAD - GARBANZO, MIREPOIX, RADICCHIO
A solid start to the meal, the squid itself feels tighter and less slick than other preparations giving the meat a palpable snap. Meanwhile the Garbanzos add a slight sweetness and countervailing starchy heft. A spicy and tangy sauce rounds things out providing a lovely flavor profile to the dish.
OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL - CONDIMENTS
Nothing out of the ordinary here, the plump briny raw oysters come with classic condiments: horseradish, cocktail sauce, and mignonette.
SARDINE ESCABECHE - PARSNIP, HABANERO
I was curious how the sardine and habanero would pair; it turns out they work remarkably well together. The fish provided a shock of tart fish oil subtly sweetened by some unidentified element. The habanero was quiet at first but provided a creeping heat that gradually superseded the fish.
LOBSTER ROLL - CELERY, LEMON AIOLI
This was the first of three consecutive "sandwich" courses that would all prove stellar. The aioli soaked lobster is enjoyable slightly tangy and creamy but it was the bread with its potent aroma of butter that seals the deal, enticing the sweetness of the lobster out from under all that sauce.
FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH - SPICY B&B PICKLE SLAW, ROOSTER AIOLI
I'm a sucker for fried chicken and this sandwich just hit the spot. Reminiscent of a Chick-fil-a sandwich, the tender flavorful chicken comes coated in a beautifully crunchy outer coating while the pickles and slaw add the right amount of succulence to mask the heaviness of the deep frying.
SHRIMP TOAST SANDWICH - HERBS, SIRACHA MAYO
I've had shrimp toast recently at WP24, Lukshon, and now Son of a Gun and none of the preparations are alike. The preparation here consisted of two layers of shrimp toast, shrimp paste covered in a crunchy deep-fried crust, around a filling of herbs and Siracha. The toast had a flavor reminiscent of the Chao Tom Cuon at Brodard, albeit with deeper more satisfying savoriness. The herbs and Siracha are crucial to add contrast and balance.
LETTUCES - CREAMY HERB DRESSING, RED ONION, CROUTONS, PEPATO
Not really sure where this dish fits on the menu, just a large plate of lettuce with some straightforward accompaniments. I wonder if this was something Jon and Vinnie put on the menu to appease any vegetarians that happen to come in
SMOKED MAHI FISH DIP - CELERY, RADISH, CRACKERS
With the Keebler Club crackers, this looked like a snack dip that one would find at a picnic. The smoked Mahi looked like store bought crab salad but the flavor was intense with a lingering aroma of wood chips.
ALBACORE - SESAME SEEDS, RADISH, CITRUS SOY
From first glance I was thinking Japanese all the way with this course and it didn't disappoint. The citrus soy was a very faithful replacement for ponzu, a delightful companion for the seared Albacore. Oddly I got a powerful aftertaste of garlic on the finish.
BENTON'S COUNTRY HAM - HONEY BUTTER, CORN BREAD
Without a doubt, this has to be one of the saltiest hams I've ever tasted. Fortunately the meat came with equally sweet accompaniments, the duo of corn bread and saccharine honey butter helped bring the saltiness down to tolerable levels. I actually enjoyed the moist spongy corn bread and butter on their own more than with the ham.
MUSSELS - TARRAGON, PERNOD, FENNEL, TOAST
I've never been a fan of mussels, neither the soft mealy texture nor the funky flavor appeal to me. However, I did enjoy this preparation the Pernod, fennel, and tarragon add a licorice tinged aromatics that tempers the natural flavor of the mussels. Having the mussels come shelled didn't hurt matters either.
ALLIGATOR SCHNITZEL - HEART OF PALM, ORANGE
I hate to admit it, but the fried alligator did taste a lot like chicken. Lean but tender, the coating of breadcrumbs gives the meat a character similar to fried chicken. The meat is beautifully enhanced with a light vanilla sauce, brilliant pairing such a soft flavor with the brazen savoriness of the gator.
PINK GROUPER - PHO FUMET, HERBS, LIME, BOK CHOY
Fumet is a concentrated stock made from mushrooms or fish used to flavor milder sauces. Indeed the broth tasted heavily of fish sauce while the herbs and lime completed the illusion of a bowl of pho. The fish itself was a little softer than I was expecting, but still enjoyable and the mild flavor of the fish soaked up the heady stock like a sponge.
FLUKE - RAITA, ORO BLANCO, PINEAPPLE, MINT
I was curious about the fluke and raita combination but it was the oro blanco that ended up dominating this course with an acidity of the grapefruit felt a bit lopsided against the mild fluke.
WINTER CITRUS - DUNGENESS CRAB, AVOCADO, FENNEL, ARUGULA
The citrus was much more effective here, the potency of the grapefruit is countered by an equally lush sweet orange. The crab was almost unnecessary as this dish focused on the citrus though the nuttiness of the arugula came through undimmed as well.
LINGUINE AND CLAMS - UNI AGLIO-OLIO, BREADCRUMBS
I appreciated the Two Dudes' take on this classic dish. The clams add a nice hint of brine to the plump supple noodles while the breadcrumbs provided some textural contrast. I was expecting the uni to be more apparent but the flavor hovered around the edges.
IDAHO TROUT - CARROT, POTATO, CAPER DILL BUTTER
The oily flavor of the trout is deftly managed here by a generous helping of rich butter. Personally I could have forgone the carrot and potato and gone with the fish all by itself.
PEEL AND EAT SHRIMP BOIL - LIME MUSTARD SAUCE
Peel and eat was something of a misnomer as we all seemed to struggle a bit when removing the shell. Still the delicately cooked shrimp meat was worth the effort. I preferred eating the shrimp without the lime mustard, enjoying the natural flavor of the shellfish tinged with a slight bit of Old Bay.
SANTA BARBARA SPOT PRAWNS - BUTTER, LEMON, SEA SALT
Following the regular shrimp with the spot prawn really highlighted the differences between the two. The fresh spot prawn is in a whole other league, with a succulent supple texture and essence of fresh brine the prawn didn't need any accompaniments.
KING CRAB LEGS - TABASCO BUTTER
Another of the night's standouts, king crab, like the spot prawns needs to be served as simply as possible to enjoy the meat's natural flavor. The butter brings the crab's natural sweetness to the fore while the Tabasco adds a vinegar tinged bite that helps balance the density of the meat.
NIMAN RANCH RIB-EYE - FRIED OYSTERS, BÉARNAISE, FRIES
I was probably a bit too full to appreciate this course. The beef itself is quite good, tender and nicely seasoned, but the Béarnaise sauce was a bit overwhelming at this point. Under other circumstances, I suspect this would be an ideal course to finish a meal.
FROZEN LIME YOGURT - GRAHAM CRUMBLE, TOASTED MERINGUE
Both desserts had a deconstructed feel to them. First up was a tart frozen yogurt coupled with a creamy toasted meringue and bits of rich graham cracker that faithfully recreated a key lime pie.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE - BANANA, PEANUT, COCONUT ICE CREAM
Long the purview of steakhouses, Jon and Vinnie breathe new life into a tired dessert. The chunks of fudge-like chocolate cake are balanced by a salt-laced caramel while the sweetness of the banana adds a tropical lightness to the mix.
Son of a Gun offers a mix of cuisines as eclectic as its name, drawing heavily from Asian flavors for a couple of the courses, while the other dishes look like something out of a tapas joint or Southern restaurant. Shook and Dotolo manage to capture the best of each style, resulting in delicious, tightly focused flavors. I wonder what is next for the duo, personally after having the lobster roll, fried chicken, and shrimp toast, I'm hoping its their sandwich shop.
Monday, February 28, 2011
8370 W 3rd Street