At the Beverly Hills Thompson Hotel, Chef Brian Redzikowski mans the helm of the kitchen at Bond Street restaurant. The restaurant and hotel, just like the original in New York’s SoHo, is beautifully designed in true Dodd Mitchell style. Sleek dark brown suede banquettes and checkered patterns encompass the dimly lit dining room. The classy bar is an ideal place for incognito lovers to whisper sweet nothings by flickering candlelight. A quaint sushi bar sits by the open kitchen, a traditional Japanese haven almost hidden from the otherwise contemporary space. The large wooden communal table by the bar decorated with bonsai plants almost took my breath away. My goodness, is that a George Nakashima table? After close inspection, I could tell that it wasn’t, but it was still a beauty. Japanese artistry juxtaposed with lustrous modern design compose the perfect background for the innovative food here at Bond St.
Chef Brian Redzikowski is almost too perfect of a fit for this restaurant known for sushi and Japanese fusion cuisine. Only a chef who has the mastery of classical French techniques and an eye for Japanese aesthetics can competently operate and actualize this menu. His impressive bio reflects how his path was naturally bound for the executive chef title at Bond St. Le Cirque, Alain Ducasse, Le Bernardin and Joel Robuchon at the Mansion have refined his culinary skills. His position as executive chef at Matsuhisa in Colorado and executive sous-chef at Yellowtail in Las Vegas prove his competence with Japanese cuisine.
He started off our special tasting menu with a prosecco sangria jello and foam. The flavors were sweet, fruity and seductive. The foam layer fizzled away like fine prosecco bubbles. As we examined the chiffon lace decoration on this dish and toasted with Bruno Paillard Brut Rosé champagne (a signature Robuchon bubbly), the two former Robuchon chefs that I was dining with both chuckled as they simultaneously exclaimed “This is SO Robuchon!”
My favorite dish of the evening was the big eye tuna tartare with truffle oil, thinly sliced red onions and microshiso. It was stunningly plated on a thin wooden plank that was reminiscent of the Nakashima-esque wooden table by the bar. Served on a light and airy crisp, this dainty appetizer saturated the air with its ethereal truffle aroma.
A ‘sashimi’ plate of king crab and hamachi. The intense aroma of the bacon foam on top of the king crab with vinegar gelée opened the flood gates of my salivary glands. This foam can easily be marketed to become a basic tabletop condiment right next to salt and pepper. I felt like the vinegar gelée was unnecessary and took away from the excitement of the bacon essence, but the hamachi belly with soy strip was delightful. The soy flavors kicked in after a few seconds, as the strip slowly dissolved in my mouth and transfused through the wonderful fattiness of the fish.
The Skeena river salmon sushi went back to the basics. After all, this is a sushi restaurant (well, sort of). But of course, Brian put a little twist to it. It was served with soy pearls, small round jelly-like pearls that were probably made with either alginate or agar. Although it was a fun concept, I would have preferred to keep this simple and a little more traditional with soy-marinated salmon roe.
By this time we were knee deep in the most insanely delicious bottle of 2005 Domaine Etienne Defaix Chablis Vielle Vignes from Burgundy- a perfect balance of dry and sweet, and went well with all of the seafood dishes.
Foie gras with spicy rice krispy treat, yogurt powder and yogurt chip was interesting. The best part for me was the actual foie gras which I only got to enjoy for a nanosecond before it disappeared under the overwhelming sweetness and chewiness of the rice krispy treat. I didn’t quite understand the role of the yogurt, as it did nothing for me, and the yogurt powder reminded me of infant formula.
The next dish was a corn flan with carrot marshmallow, sweet pea foam and spot prawns that I unfortunately forgot to photograph. You can see a photo of it on Chef Redzikowski’s site. A deep white bowl with a layer of yellow corn flan at the bottom was colorfully dotted with orange and green and a side of light green pea foam. The flan was incredibly smooth and silky, and the sweet pea foam was beautifully aromatic. The crunchy texture of the croutons mixed with the succulent meatiness of the prawns and melty marshmallows was brilliant. We all loved this dish.
The Alaskan black cod with miso dengaku and potato miso foam was nice. The cod was perfectly cooked and flavorful, motivating me to eat carefully with the precision of a plastic surgeon so as not to leave behind even a small flake on the plate. I was a bit surprised to see a red miso dengaku paste on this fatty fish, as cod is usually marinated with white miso which has a lighter taste. The warm potato foam was good enough for me to want to bathe in. Bravo to the bottle of 2004 Chenin blanc ‘Les Genêts’ from Savennières by Damien Laureau for enhancing this portion of our dinner with its fruit and honey undertones.
The sous vide Snake River Farm Kurobuta pork belly dish was interesting. It was served with artichoke foam and olive oil powder. Our server gave us strict instructions to incorporate the foam and powder in each bite. I applaud the chef’s creativity and determination in incorporating molecular gastronomy elements in his dishes, but I was deeply perplexed with the elements. The powders and foams were too frail and muted to do their part in enhancing the fatty pork belly.
The sous vide Kobe beef on a bed of applewood smoked bacon was presented beautifully. The beef slices were nicely marbled and fatty as Kobe beef always is, although I question the presence of the bacon. I’m assuming it was for consumption and not just for visual and olfactory foreplay, as these were some of the toughest slices of bacon I’ve ever had.
The beef was accompanied with a side of veggies. Similar to the carrot marshmallows in the corn flan dish, it came with a round carrot sphere served on a bed of cippolini onion purée with microvegetables and honey teriyaki sauce. The cippolini purée was exquisite, teeming with that unique sweetness that only an onion can produce.
Sous vide meat round 3 was Sonoma lamb with carrot purée and powder, gingerbread, lamb jus and mint paper. The meat was tender and delicate, and beautifully done. The arrangement of dots, cubes and powder was like a Japanese rock garden.
The meats were beautifully paired with a flawless 2006 Vosne Romanée by Domaine Forey Pere et Fils. Luckily we still had a little left to enjoy with the first of 6 desserts which couldn’t be more perfect with this wine. As a tribute to the Vosne Romanée, these pinot noir and strawberry liquid-filled chocolate spheres were chaperoned by pinot noir reduction dots, micro shiso and strawberries. Upon first glance, this brown sphere seemed timid and nervous, sweating fine beads of perspiration under the ravenous stares of its predators. Once consumed, its surprisingly thin and delicate crust ruptured between tongue and palate in a torrent of seductive poison, rendering its predator paralyzed in a fervent state of ecstasy.
The warm cherry clafoutis with vanilla ice cream was next up in this sinful dessert carnage. It was nice to get a classic French dish made simply and splendidly. It was an amazing dessert that almost caused a war when it came down to the last bite.
The lemongrass and espresso ice creams with cappuccino foam was sharp and refreshing.
The caramel flan with popcorn foam was interesting to say the least. Not my cup of tea, but a bold experiment in unique flavor and texture combinations.
Mochi donuts with coconut ice cream and rhubarb was something I could easily do without. The mochi balls had a caustic chewy texture that made it distinctly un-mochi like.
The grand dessert finale was fittingly carried out by the caramel chocolate ball filled with liquid vanilla ice cream on a bed of caramel powder. We were instructed to eat this in one bite. Mind you, they were the size of golf balls, so we all initially hesitated, not wanting to look silly trying to do this. But we were among good friends, and happy tipsy friends at that, so we all took the plunge together. Just like the pinot noir chocolate ball, this heavenly sphere instantly collapsed in our mouths, resulting in a tsunami of rich vanilla decadence. See this YouTube video of Brian making these opulent orbs. Avoid the somewhat cheesy music by viewing it on mute.
The decadent feast concluded with colorful origami boxes containing chocolates. The flowing progression of our meal narrated a beautiful story and each dish allured us with mythical charm. Like traditional Japanese kaiseki, the aesthetics of each plate demonstrated the esteem and discernment of understated beauty.
The exorbitance of powders, foams, strips, dots and sous vide meats left me yearning for a simple plate of meat and potatoes, but I appreciated Redzikowski’s creative and daring adventure into new culinary frontiers. Like the restaurant decor, his food represented a flirtatious blend of sexy modernism and traditional elegance.
9360 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212-3134
Click here for more beautiful photos of Chef Redzikowski’s culinary creations.
Random trivia: Careful where you pop…
Jan 2, 2009 12:31 pm US/Pacific
Popcorn Trail Leads Police To Suspected Thief
NATOMAS (CBS13) ―
A messy thief has been arrested after a trail of popcorn led police directly from a crime scene to the suspect’s living room.
Sacramento police say they responded to an alarm at the Food Stop store in Natomas early in the morning on New Year’s day. When officers arrived they found that the business had been broken into and several items taken.
That’s also when they noticed a trail of popcorn. Officers followed the trail of clues to an apartment complex behind the store and to the door of one unit. When officers knocked, they noticed the popcorn kernels continued inside the apartment. Officers found the stolen property inside.
Officers arrested Tyree Brown for a theft warrant and possession of stolen property. He may be charged with burlgary at a later time.
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