Although LudoBites at the Breadbar in Beverly Hills ended, there are still exciting events going on at the Breadbar in Century City. The Hatchi ’8′ Series is an exciting concept that features a new guest chef every month. For one night only, that chef introduces 8 plates for $8 each that reflects his or her unique style, flair and personality (Hatchi means 8 in Japanese). It’s a win-win situation for all involved. The guest chef, who is usually an up and coming chef who is in the midst of establishing him or herself in the culinary world, has complete freedom to create 6 savory and 2 sweet dishes to his or her liking. The guests get to dine on fantastic and innovative food for only $8 a dish. The host venue, Breadbar, gets more publicity. It’s quite genius, actually.
The Hatchi series debuted in June with Chef Debbie Lee, a contestant from The Next Food Network Star. July featured Michael Voltaggio, who recently left The Bazaar for The Dining Room at The Langham, and can be seen competing on the current Top Chef: Las Vegas series. I went to the recent event called “Endless Summer” by Chef Remi Lauvand, formerly of Le Cirque, Montrachet and Social in Hollywood.
I love that the dinners at the Breadbar are BYOB (including LudoBites). We ended up with 2 great bottles of Bordeaux reds- a beautiful 2005 Pomerol by Christian Moueix with a deep intensity and dry acidic finish that I brought, and an equally stunning 2007 Merlot with a lighter fruity finish by Lodi that one of my friends brought. Again, a win-win situation here. Guests can bring their special beverage of choice for a low corkage fee of $15. The makings of a perfect evening.
As the servers passed out the evening menu and flavorful auvergnat bread (bread from the central France region of Auvergne that is shaped like it has a cap), I looked around the completely packed dining room that included many people from the food and beverage industry including Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s wife Krissy.
Starters: house cured Tasmanian trout with Charentais melon, Tarragon and Lemon Hatch pepper relish. The trout was nicely fatty, tender and flavorful, like belly meat. The melon slices brought an added level of sweetness to the dish, while the pepper relish brought heat and spice, as well as the licorice kick of the tarragon leaves. Although there were strong contrasting flavors, it still made for a beautiful dish.
The crisp pork belly salad was wonderful. The pork belly was perfectly cooked to a tender consistency, covered with crispy succulent pork skin. The parsnips purée was rich and smooth, and the jalapeño sauce gave just enough punch to enhance but not overwhelm the meat.
The foie gras ‘parfait’ pain d’épices was magnificent, and the perfect complement to the bottles of Bordeaux. The foie parfait, which is foie gras mixed with egg then cooked in a mason jar, had a spectacular port wine sauce that was rich in flavor and light in consistency. The flavoring was bold on nutmeg, but the French chef at our table assured us that this was the true French way, as he proceeded to polish off a second order. The classical pairing of foie gras, port wine and black mission figs did not, as it never really does, fail.
One of my favorite dishes of the evening was the handmade farfalle with octopus, chicken oysters and tomatoes. The braised octopus and chicken oysters were both equally tender and moist, practically dripping with the beautiful essences of the sauce. The handmade pasta was perfectly al dente, and the tomatoes added a nice depth of acidic and fruity flavor.
The barramundi, an Australian white fish gaining more popularity here in the US, was surprisingly well prepared. I often find it overcooked and dry, but Lauvand did this fish justice by giving its skin a nice crispy sear while keeping the flesh moist and tender. The yellow lady peas had a light texture with a bold and hearty flavor, and went well with the cherry tomatoes, watercress and basil jus. The prosciutto added a dash of smokiness that enhanced the natural flavors of the barramundi.
The slow cooked veal breast with carottes rissolées and arugula was a wonderful conclusion to the savory portion of the Hatchi meal. The braised veal breast was oh so tender, melting in my mouth with such ease of a stick of butter on a heated pan. The carrots were generously buttered and incredibly sweet. The mini Tropézienne with Santa Barbara pistachios and chocolate cracker was okay. The name originates from St. Tropez on the French Riviera. The choux cream-like dessert was quite difficult to share and to eat, though the pistachio cream had a great nutty consistency and the brioche was soft and airy. It’s an elegant dish to look at, but not so elegant to eat.
My other favorite dish of the evening was the Penryn Orchard pear with crepe, Sofia goat cheese and young walnuts. I was quite surprised, pleased and blown away by the wonderful combination of textures and flavors. Goat cheese, poached pairs and crepe? It sounds like a common combination that would have already been popular by now, but yet I’ve never had it before. The goat cheese, drizzled with a touch of honey, became even creamier under the warmth of the freshly made crepe blanket. Every bite made me love this combination even more, and I couldn’t stop eating it. I love when simple ingredients bring an explosive complexity of tastes and aromas when fused into the right medley. I’ll be sure to serve this at my next dinner party.
Toward the end of the evening Chef Lauvand came out to greet his guests. He looked quite exhausted, but he was also beaming with pride, satisfaction and happiness. It was HIS night, his food, his concept, his vision, his dream, his creation, his restaurant….for one night. And all of the guests seemed to understand and appreciate his vision. I surely did.
This month at the Hatchi Series is Eda Vesterman, then Waylynn Lucas in November, followed by Marcel Vigneron in December. An interesting line-up that I’ll be checking out for sure.
Century City Mall
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067
Random trivia: Did you know that the octopus has 3 hearts?