First, we feast with our eyes. Vibrant colors of garden and sea, 3 dimensional textures of foods both familiar and unfamiliar, linear shapes juxtaposed against round edges, and beautiful arrangements worthy of a gallery piece. Then we taste, exploring through our gustatory senses whether the flavors presented to us reciprocate our visual expectations. Sound, smell and touch come somewhere in between, but our appetites become ignited the moment we lay eyes on our food. In Chef Brian Redzikowski’s dinner at Test Kitchen in Los Angeles, this concept was taken to its purest form. He deliberately withheld the evening’s menu from diners until the very end of the meal, wanting for each course’s experience to start the moment a dish arrived at the table. Not knowing what to expect, each dish was a real surprise, over and over again, fresh, exciting and new.
As Executive Chef of Bond St at the Thompson Hotel, Chef Redzikowski understands the intricate mastery of food aesthetics, utilizing his training in French and Japanese cuisine to create beautiful pieces of edible art. The Test Kitchen preview dinner for his upcoming restaurant project Claustro was a culmination of his delicate and refined style of cuisine, executed with the help of his chef sibling Frank. Redzikowski started the dinner off with a shot of passion fruit blueberry granité and prosecco foam, in a playful arrangement of dry ice and colorful glass marbles- bubbly, fruity and flirtatious.
A ‘Marco Pierre White’ terrine of baby leeks and lobster, pressed for 16 hours and congealed with natural pectins from the vegetable, was served with caviar. The simple and light dish was an ode to the infamous 3 Michelin starred bad boy chef who first made this dish for one of his mentors. On this YouTube video, not only can you see the step-by-step process of this wonderful terrine, but also a young fledgling Gordon Ramsay learning how to curse in the kitchen.
My favorite dish of the night was a potato cube pierced through the center with a bouquet of rosemary twigs, nestled in a sea of luscious potato and chorizo foams. Amazing aromas from the twigs whetted my appetite, and the orange chorizo foam delivered an incredible savor that I still yearn to relive. As the only course that didn’t require utensils, feeling the weighted twigs in our hands as we bit into the potato tapped into our tactile senses, heightening the experience.
A generous wedge of King crab dressed in an aromatic foam arrived at our table in a dainty black ceramic bowl, balanced on a saucer with a crab exoskeleton tangled in fishing net. The moment it arrived, I felt a powerful splash of cold ocean wave, delivering with it a waft of buttery crustacean scent. Refreshing flavors of preserved Meyer lemon balanced out the fabulous richness of lobster butter in this delightful dish that was served with small carrot, zucchini and celery balls.
Arnold Palmer served with a bottom layer of ice cold lemonade and a top layer of warm tea was interesting…if not baffling.
Halibut was served with chanterelles, rutabaga balls (a cross between a cabbage and a turnip), generous slices of black truffles and interestingly, crisp Romaine leaves that gave the dish an interesting textural variation.
Foie gras foam and parmesan cheese added too much saltiness to this dish, but the liquid foie gras-filled raviolis were quite magnificent in concept, flavor and texture. Lettuce leaves were again added to this entrée, a surprisingly clever and fresh new way of incorporating greens.
The plating of the sous vide lamb loin and tongue dish was distinctly Redzikowski, showcasing a playful arrangement of color and geometry. Little brown buttons of chanterelles, a leaning solitary asparagus spear, squiggles of onion demi glace, the gentle curl of transparent mint paper and a rectangular cut of leathery dehydrated onion crisp with precise right angles- a delicious composition of abstract expressionism.
My hopes were fulfilled when the Asahi float dessert arrived at our table, my favorite dish from Redzikowski’s Breadbar Hatchi dinner last year. Vanilla ice cream with acacia honey gel, showered with a tableside pour of Asahi Super Dry beer, was again a sensational and unforgettably delicious combination.
The ‘half baked’ dessert was a glass terrarium of sweet delights with caramel panna cotta, liquid nitrogen frozen raw cookie dough, kaffir lime foam, soft brownie sponge, ground pistachios, ice cream and an egg yolk chip- another playful culinary concept with delicious results.
Look forward to Chef Redzikowski’s new restaurant project, Claustro, which will hopefully keep the Asahi float and potato on the menu while introducing new artistic and avant-garde creations. It will surely be a feast for the eyes, and a delicious banquet for all other senses.
Chef Brian Redzikowski’s website:
Random trivia: Did you know that the bitterness of watercress, mustard greens, turnip and rutabaga is perceived through the influence of a gene affecting a bitter receptor? Some people are born with a stronger expression of this gene, making them perceive these vegetables infinitely more stronger than others who don’t.