Saturday, January 7, 2012

Post & Beam - 01/06/2012

What better way to start off the new year than with a new restaurant. I found myself working up in El Segundo this week and after a stressful week of 12 hour days I was looking forward to a satisfying meal to start my weekend and Chef Govind Armstrong's new restaurant Post & Beam seemed to fit the bill nicely.

Armstrong has been part of the LA culinary scene since the tender age of 13 where he worked with Wolfgang Puck at his flagship Spago. Throughout Armstrong's career, he has worked with numerous famed LA chefs including: Mark Peel, Nancy Silverton, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, and Joachim Splichal. Despite his relative youth, Armstrong has opened a number of restaurants starting with Chadwick in 2000 then Table 8 and 8 oz Burger Bar.

Sticky Little Ribs with Roasted Potato, Braised Fennel Salad
Given the name, I was expecting the ribs to come with a layer of sauce. Despite being fairly dry, the meat was tender and flavorful with a smoky sweet porcine sapor. The salad was absolutely delicious, the fresh herbs and starchy heft of the potatoes making for a neatly composed dish.

Grilled Octopus with Garbanzo, Preserved Lemon and Cracked Olive
This was easily one of the best courses of the night. The octopus was cooked nicely rendering it deliciously soft and meaty and adding a lovely char to accompany the octopus' natural salinity. The mix of lemon olive contributed a nuanced herbaceousness while the chickpea added an enjoyable crunchy contrast.

Oven Roasted Penne with Short Rib Bolognese, Arugula and Shaved Parmesan
The bolognese was a thing of beauty, the heady meaty essence of the short rib is accentuated by the bright tang of tomato and a piquant sharpness from the Parmesan. Though I found the pasta a touch underdone, the sauce was so delicious that it overshadowed the minute flaw.

01 Crusted Tomato, Local Mozzarella, Snipped Basil, Unfiltered Olive Oil
Post & Beam's take on a Margherita pizza hews closely to the original recipe. If anything Armstrong's version is more approachable than true Neopolitan pizza. The crust has a satisfying crunch and less bitterness which lets the sweet essence of the sauce come through cleanly.

02 House Made Sausage, Fire Roasted Peppers, Grilled Onion, Cheese Blend
The four cheese blend was a bit pungent for my tastes, but I enjoyed the spicy savory kick of the sausage coupled with a the sweet contrast of the peppers and onions.

Certified Angus Beef Sirloin Steak, Beef Butter - Oven Roasted Cauliflower, Braised Chickpeas, Salsa Verde | Roasted New Potatoes
The simply prepared steak shows of the prototypical toothsome firmness of the sirloin cut and the minimal dressing celebrates the meat's inherent savor. The sides were enjoyable though I would have liked a bit more flavor from the salsa verde, perhaps an acidity to balance the weight of the meat

09 Charred Broccolini, Roasted Olives, Balsamic Onion, Sweet Garlic
The couple who shared our communal table noticed us taking pictures of the food and graciously decided to share their pizza with us. The charred bitterneses of the broccolini works nicely with the lighter flavors of the garlic, onion and tomato sauce, though the olives were a bit heavy for my tastes.

Cast Iron Natural Chicken, Olive Oil Poached Garlic and Sage - Long Cooked Greens, Smoked Ham Hock | Charred Broccolini with Chili and Garlic
Though I don't normally order chicken at restaurants, something about this caught my eye. As expected, the flavors of olive oil, garlic, and sage pair naturally with the salty crunch of the skin and lighter flavor of the bird proper. Unfortunately the breast was overcooked and unpleasantly dry. To their credit the restaurant comped this dish immediately when we mentioned the issue. The broccolini was arguably my favorite bite of the night, its crunch and clean vegetal notes are heightened by the aroma of garlic and a subtle tinge of spice.

Buttermilk Biscuit with Blackberry Compote and Crème Fraîche
For our first dessert we opted for a biscuit stuffed with cream and blackberries. The biscuit was spot on, light and flaky with a delicate savory-sweet butteriness. The fruit and cream providing a gentle sweetness as well as a crucial succulence.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Lemon Zest and Candied Citrus
Another very light dessert. The panna cotta had a piquant yogurt-like tang while the citrus contributed an understated fruity sweetness.

Straightforward, satisfying, and unpretentious the food at Post & Beam isn't going to win any awards for originality but that isn't the point. Chef Armstrong has built a solid menu around his market-driven take on classic American comfort food. There were a few small issues mainly with cook times that I suspect will work themselves out as the kitchen gets more experience and service was particularly on point with a friendly staff perfectly suited to the homey vibe of the restaurant. With its warm staff and satisfying fare, I could easily see Post & Beam becoming a neighborhood favorite.


Tove said...

Oh my goodness, that octopus looks incredible and I wouldn't mind having a bit of that Buttermilk Biscuit with Blackberry Compote and Crème Fraîche!

Epicuryan said...

The meal is well done comfort food. The desserts are a bit on the savory side so its good if you don't have too big of a sweet tooth.