Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bistronomics 2.0 - 04/17/2011

8718 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 205-0124

Bistronomy, a portmanteau of "bistro" and "gastronomy," refers the the trend of serving high quality cuisine in a bistro setting. The goal is to create an affordable dining experience in a relaxed casual environment with an emphasis on preserving the natural flavor of the high quality ingredients. The concept was first pioneered in Paris during the 90s by Yves Camdeborde, who lacked the financial means to open a true fine dining restaurant, bistronomy is finally gaining traction Stateside.

Though Ludo Lefebvre is arguably the most well known advocate of the bistronomy movement in the area he is by no means alone. Jet Tila of has partnered with Chef Alex Ageneau to create their own bistronomy pop-up, fittingly titled Bistronomics.

Chef Tila is of Chinese-Thai descent and has had a substantially more diverse career than your typical chef. After getting his start at his family's restaurant, Jet trained at Le Cordon Bleu and the California Sushi Academy, building a foundation across multiple styles of Asian cuisine. Besides hosting well regarded cooking classes, he founded the Pacfic Cafe at Google's headquarters and Wazuzu, the casual Pan-Asian restaurant at the Wynn in Las Vegas. He first met his partner in crime Chef Agneau when he was CDC at Sinatra nee Theo also at the Wynn. Chef Ageneau's career started out in Chicaco at Les Nomades, followed by a turn at Pierre Gagnare's Sketch in London. Upon returning to the States he joined Theo Schoenegger at Patina and followed him to Las Vegas before coming to The Royce in Pasadena.

The chefs aren't wasting any time, the inaugural version took place in early March and 3.0 is scheduled for later this year. The tag line for the second series is "Play with your Food!" and the chefs meant every word. Utensils weren't verboten per se but Jet warned us to expect ridicule if you ask for one. The goal is to strip away the pretense of propriety and create a relaxed atmosphere where guests could enjoy the food and each others company.

The restaurant is strictly BYOB and with no corkage everybody took full advantage with multiple bottles per table. In keeping with the casual tone of the meal most of my companions brought beer, I decided to buck the trend with a bottle of Syrah instead.

foie gras / bread - raw radishes, foie gras butter and toasted bread powder
Chef Ageneau said this dish was inspired by childhood visits to his grandparent's farm in France. Whenever he would visit, his grandparents would harvest some breakfast radishes and dip them in butter. Trying to recapture the textural interplay as well as the tactile enjoyment of eating the dish. The bitterness of the breakfast radish helps to offset the weight of the foie gras butter.

asparagus / rice / bonito - charred green asparagus, asparagus coulis, rice espuma and bonito flakes
Next up was a soup of asparagus and a cream of rice that was the chef's play on risotto. The bright green stalks of asparagus were key, with the bitter char giving the fresh asparagus a sense of depth. The delicate herbaceousness of the coulis is is grounded by the espuma and finished with the barest hint of citrus from a gentle dusting of lemon zest; a pure expression
of the ingredients' natural flavors. We were actually invited back to watch the staff plate this course and I was surprised by how intense the four were. Even Jet who was definitely born with the gift of gab worked silently and precisely to get the food out.

brandade / zucchini / mussels - croquettes of cod brandade, zucchini puree, mussels "au four"
I've never been a huge fan of either mussels or cod fritters but this was surprisingly effective. The brandade was surprisingly mild with more of a neutral savoriness than the characteristic oily bite. Instead it fell to the mussels, briefly boiled then finished in the oven the small bivalves kept a remarkably pure ocean flavor that lingered on the palate and drew out the full flavor of the cod.

lamb / kumquat / carrot confit - grilled lamb chops marinated with cumin and sumac, kumquat yogurt, carrot confit with ginger and saffron
There is something satisfying on a primal level about eating meat with your hands, feeling the rush of of iron-tinged meat jus that gushes forth as you tear the rare flesh from the bones. Without question the lamb chops stand on their own; exquisitely seasoned with an immensely delicious marinade of cumin and sumac. Next time forget the fancy decorations on the plate and give me another piece!

strawberry / chocolate / chantilly cream - marinated strawberries, chocolate cake, and chantilly cream
The dessert was almost laughably basic, strawberries, chocolate and cream but in keeping with the theme of the meal, was done in done in such a way that allows the disparate elements to shine.

In the end Bistronomics 2.0 delivered exactly what it promised, simple enjoyable fare in a fun casual environment; a celebration of good food, good wine and good company. This time around the food definitely reflected Chef Ageneau's vision with Jet helping out in the kitchen but he mainly serving as the public face of the event. Chef Tila promised next time around the food would be a mix of Asian and French that draws from both their culinary backgrounds.


Darin said...

It's not even 10am and I wish I could have more of that lamb.

Epicuryan said...

Lol... it was truly great. I hope that or something like it is on the menu when Alex has his own place.

Laura H said...

Had to be worth every penny!