Monday, May 20, 2013

LQ Foodings @ Vertical Wine Bistro - 05/19/2013

70 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 795-3999

After shuttering his Bistro LQ, Quenioux launched his "LQ Fooding Around in LA" pop-up concept. The series kicked of during summer of 2011 initially started off with a six month run now shuttered Starry Kitchen. Since moving on from Starry Kitchen, the pop-ups have been a bit less frequent but the chef has kept himself busy running the kitchen at Vertical Wine Bistro which also happens to be the site of his latest LQ "Foodings"

Kir Vertical - Prosecco, St Germain Liqueur, Fresh Mint
Around The World - Cucumber, Hendrick's Gin, Agave Nectar, Elderflower Liqueur, Yuzu Juice
The Lolita - Plymouth Gin, Blueberries, Agave Nectar, Brown Sugar, Lemon Juice, Prosecco
The Kir was the weakest of the three cocktails, while certainly redolent of fresh mint, the St. Germain needed to be a bit more apparent. The Around the World is my kind of drink; delightfully refreshing with a palpable booziness tempered with citrus. The Lolita was the surprise favorite of the trio: fresh, soft, and sweet the alcohol was barely noticeable making this a very dangerous drink.

Mise en Bouche: Hokkaido Scallop smoked for 6 hours - Toasted Waffle, Nori Butter; Roasted Bone Marrow, Crayfish, Grated Celeriac
NV Terres Dorées Cremant de Bourgogne Chardonnay
The meal got of to a fantastic start. Despite the copious amount of rendered fat the marrow was nicely balanced by the bisque-like flavor of the crawfish as well as the herbaceousness of the celeriac. Next up was a toasted waffle that needed to be a bit warmer but the salty sweet flavor of the nori butter certainly hit the spot. The scallop was easily the best of the trio with an exquisitely slick yet meaty texture, the sweet salinity is infused with a deep essence of wood smoke then topped with a feisty citrus spice similar to yuzu kocho.

Minestrone - Serrano Ham, Ramps Hazelnut Pesto, Amy’s Farm Duck Egg, Rillette, FG Macaron
2012 Domaine Sauvete Pineau D'Aunis Rosé Meli-Melo
Despite their abundant zest, the vegetables definitely play second fiddle here to the umami essence of the serrano ham and the trifecta of duck. The tempura egg tends to dominate the soup at once savory and silky but I would have forgone all of that for a few more of the foie gras macarons. Proving once again that forbidden fruit is the sweetest, the little bacon-topped gems have that perfect blend of chewy and crunch and an equally savory sweetness that left my entire party wanting more.

Cold Poached Skate - Fried Capers, Watermelon Pico, Bonito Emulsion, Dehydrated Kale, Blis Char Roe, Dehydrated Beet, Morels
2011 Domaine du Closel "La Jalousie" Savenniere
I've never been a huge fan of skate but there was a lot to like with this preparation. Between bits of lean meat is plenty of gellied connective tissue giving the skate a tender yet unexpectedly substantial texture. Earth, salinity, and savor are balanced by a deft application of succulence from the watermelon while the char roe adds an charming smoky brine. The wine was a spot on pairing for the skate, the chenin blanc offered an overarching saline minerality as well as plenty of citrus for the more austere aspects of the dish.

Rice Porridge - Veal Sweetbreads, Uni Bottarga, Uni, Wood Sorrel
2010 Monasterio De Corias, Maceration Carbonica
Easily the star of the night, this ambitious dish blended the salinity of uni and bottarga with the earthy gravitas of sweetbreads all on top of a lush creamy bed of rice. Though the uni and sweetbreads didn't compliment each other particularly well, I found myself wanting a huge bowl of the stuff or better yet two bowls of porridge one topped with sweetbreads and the other with uni. Surprisingly dry and refreshing for a red wine, the De Corias reminded me of a Beaujolais, an aptly subdued compliment to the multifaceted porridge

A3 Japanese Wagyu (served rare to medium rare only) - Pan Drippings, Green Garlic Soil, English Pea Frozen Yogurt, Harrissa Emulsion, Shaved Asparagus, Shaved Radishes
2010 Mas de Gourgonnie, Les Baux de Provence Rouge
I was a bit amused to see the A3 rating on the beef as restaurants typically refrain from displaying anything less than a perfect score of A5. Despite only scoring a 3 out of 5 on marbling, I ended up with the rib cap which still offered plenty of marbling. Sadly my piece was a bit too fatty needing a bit more heat to render fully (a nuance I've come to appreciate more fully after recent steak tasting). My companion's leaner cut still exuded a lusty richness nicely augmented by the spicy bite of the harissa. The asparagus and radish provided a sharp contrast from the beef; the pea froyo in particular was almost startling in its intensity.

The Cheese Cart - Selection of over 38 non-pasteurized cheeses, imported from France, served with our famous house-made condiments
No LQ meal would be complete without a selection from his cheese cart. With 38 cheeses to pick from, Laurent offers the most extensive cheese cart I've found in LA. We ended up asking Chef to pick a handful of his favorite cheeses with a mix of hard (Mimolette, Tome de Beloc, Gruyere, and Fumaison) and soft (Cerré Mirabelle, Munster, Filetta Corsica, Chambertin, Camenbert, and Reblochon). The soft cheeses were all of the stinky gooey persuasion while the hard cheeses were more restrained and varied.

Caramel Miso Goat Cheesecake - Black Sesame Graham Cracker Crumb, Tofu Cream, Grapefruit Sorbet, Brown Butter Croquant
Despite not being a fan of either miso or goat cheese, I was exceedingly pleased with how the combination turned out here. At once salty but with a lightly piquant sweetness, the creamy filling of the cheesecake came with a wonderfully buttery crisp as well as a slight hint of nuttiness from the crumbs while the grapefruit sorbet adds the perfect touch of citrus and bitterness .

At $48 dollars per person LQ Foodings represents one of the best values considering the quality of food provided. By comparison, I spent a comparable amount on food at a "nice" chain restaurant the night before, but instead of Japanese Scallops and Beef the food consisted of chicken, ribs, and brisket. Laurent's popups exemplify the spirit of bistronomy, offering a fine-dining level of creativity and luxury served up in a casual setting at a much more affordable price.


Charlie Fu said...

That diet coke ;)

Epicuryan said...

Clearly the best pairing of the night... Eric drank it with everything