Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grace - 04/27/2010

7360 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 934-4400

I've been wanting to try Grace for a while now but after lackluster reviews from some of my most trusted friends kept me away. I finally decided to pay the restaurant a visit during the Cos d' Estournel dinner hosted by Wally's Wine. In hindsight a one-off dinner probably wasn't the best way to get acquainted with the restaurant, but at the time I figured if I didn't care for the food at least I'd enjoy the vertical wine tasting.

The meal began with a casual reception where diners got to know each other. Many of the other guests were well acquainted with one another, clearly regulars at these events. I felt a bit out of place given my relative youth, but the other diners at my table turned out to be very good company.

2009 Château Cos d' Estrounel - Barrel Tasting
Supposedly this wine was just rated a 98-100 by Robert Parker the morning of the tasting and we were supposedly tasting the first people to taste the wine in the United States. Cos d' Estrounel's wine director, Jean-Guillame Prats explained that the wine was nowhere near finished and would be tannic and raw. He considered this more of mental exercise with the goal of imagining what the finished wine might taste like. Frankly this was beyond me, I certainly got the raw grapiness; however having never had Cos d' Estrounel I had no frame of reference to understand how a mature Cos d' Estrounel tastes.

Goat Cheese Tart - golden beets
2006 Château Cos d' Estrounel Blanc
During the reception period we were periodically brought plates of hors d'oeurves. The first of the three was a goat cheese tartlet with golden beets. Normally I'm not a huge fan of either goat cheese or beets but the gaminess of the cheese and sweetness of the beets balanced one another nicely.

Smoked Salmon Tartare - chive, creme fraiche, blini
2006 Château Cos d' Estrounel Blanc
This was the strongest of the three hors d'ourves served during the reception though the most conventional. The cedar-y bite of the salmon was tempered by the cool soothing tang of the creme fraiche.

Dungeness Crab - cous cous, black truffle
2006 Château Cos d' Estrounel Blanc
Black truffle and crab would have been a winning combination had their flavors been more apparent. Instead it was the nutty starchiness of the humble cous cous that came to the fore.

Grilled Quail - porcini infused black rice, grilled treviso
2006 Goulée Rouge
Quail typically has a slight gaminess as well as a luscious mouth coating oiliness that was completely absent here. Horribly overcooked all I got was a taste of bitter char, it was like I got hit in the mouth with an ashtray. I found the grays and browns of this dish perfectly suited to the dull flavor of the bird.

Braised Beef Cheek - kabocha squash ravioli, san andreas
2006 Château Cos d' Estrounel
2007 Château Cos d' Estrounel
The food picked up with the braised beef cheeks. The meat dissolves on the tongue at the barest touch with a flavor that was rich but not overly unctuous. Kobocha can sometimes be too sweet but it worked well when mixed with the striking flavor of the cheeks. Both wines paired well with the beef; the 06 had a markedly more fruit-driven character while the 07 was noticeably more herbaceous and earthy.

Grilled Sonoma Lamb - black garlic flan, brussels sprouts, violet mustard
2001 Château Cos d' Estrounel
1995 Château Cos d' Estrounel
Seeing this perfectly cooked lamb makes me wonder what the hell happened with the quail. Though delicious, the lamb was a bit much on its own; hence the sharp bitterness of the brussels spouts was key, adding a contrasting element and breaking up the monotony of the meat. I thought both these wines were a step up from the previous two, with tightly integrated tannins and abundant dark fruit interleaved with spice and wood.

Apple Almond Turnover - marscarpone ice cream, white wine caramel
2001 Imperial Hétszölö Tokaji Aszú
The dessert proved to be a classic apple tart, candied spiced apple vying for attention with the buttery rich pastry quite nice when coupled with the bracing sweet/sour contribution of the marscarpone ice cream,

The wine dinner turned out to be an interesting experience more for its novelty than the quality of the food. While the later courses were solid the beginning of the meal failed to impress. Still I'm willing to give Grace another try before the restaurant closes later this month.


Jai Kohli said...

Damn, my invite must have gotten lost.... so how would you rate the wines?

Epicuryan said...

The wines were all very strong. I thought the '95 was far and away the best. The '01 was pretty strong but not quite as well balanced. The '06 and '07 were enjoyable but noticeably less complex than the older two.

food je t'aime said...

I say another dinner at Grace before it closes is definitely called for!

stuffycheaks said...

I definitely couldn't taste the "potential" of the 2009. It was a waste on me :) Hope you had fun! Your photos are lovely!!

Epicuryan said...

I can't make the final night but I might be going before then. If you want in let me know. I'll try to arrange it before you take off for the summer.

I enjoyed the experience. I checked out some of your other posts. Looks like we frequent a lot of the same spots... I'm sure we'll run into one another in the future.

food je t'aime said...

The only days I'd be able to go would be either the 8th or the 9th and both are coming up pretty soon. If you do decide to go on those days, let me know! I'd love to give Grace another visit. Otherwise, I've given up on trying to go before I leave.