When Hatfield’s closed down at its Beverly Boulevard location, I almost felt a little sorry for the poor soul who would try to open up a new restaurant in that same space. It’s never easy to be the following act, especially after such a well known and loved establishment like Hatfield’s. When I heard that Chef Mark Gold, the established chef who previously headed Cafe Patina and worked as executive sous alongside Michael Cimarusti at the Water Grill, was moving in, I still nervously clenched my fists at his upcoming project. A few months ago he opened Eva restaurant there, named after his grandmother who instilled in him a love and curiousity of cooking at a young age. I usually steer clear of newly opened restaurants for at least 3 months, but after reading positive reviews from established LA critics, I decided that it was time to give it a try.
As I opened the familiar door to the restaurant, I was surprised to be greeted by Mark Gold himself, smiling and patting me on the back like an old friend. He was one of the most friendliest chefs that I’ve ever met, and I found his radiant enthusiasm for life very endearing. He was beaming with pride as he told us about some of the dishes on the menu that evening. We also talked extensively about his culinary adventures through Tokyo before he personally showed us to our table. I found out that he has a weakness for Maisen tonkatsu, which I also share.
The decor was the same as when it was Hatfield’s- simple, elegant and contemporary with an indoor dining room that faces the semi-open kitchen, and an outdoor patio that wraps around the front half of the building. I loved the hip modern staff uniforms made by SussDesign, which not only looked comfortable, but also looked like an ad for Armani Exchange. The young friendly staff looked especially ravishing in their white t-shirts, sky grey knit vests and figure flattering pinstriped grey trousers. I would gladly work for any company that has this as their uniform.
We started our meal with the peeky toe crab with yuzu gelée, radish and parsley. The tender morsels of crab meat were paired perfectly with the crunchy textures of the cucumber slivers, radish kick and refreshing acidity of the citrus dressing. This light and delicate appetizer was a premonition of a fantastic and memorable dinner.
Foie gras terrine with apple marmalade, sesame and brioche was my favorite dish of the evening. I’ve had many excellent foie gras dishes in my life, but this is now in my top 3. The generous block of tender foie gras melted like butter as I effortlessly cut through it with my knife. I was simply amazed at how well it paired with the aromatic apple foam and the delicious apple marmalade. This was the first time that I had a foie-apple pairing, but it blew me away. I still think about this dish a lot; in fact, I have been obsessing about it and even told one of my chef friends about it. I must return to Eva to relive that monumental moment when I first tasted this incredible dish that turned my foie gras world upside down.
Hamachi with fennel cubes, citrus foam and grapefruit wedges was another tart and refreshing seafood appetizer. This also had a cucumber and radish garnish which added a crisp texture and uplifting flavor to the dish.
Pumpkin ravioli with smoked nuts and finely grated cheese was a comforting bowl of winter wonders. Both the sauce and ravioli filling were creamy and rich, and the crunchiness of the nuts provided a pleasing contrast of textures.
Nancy’s scallops with bomba rice, crispy chorizo and brussel sprouts came highly recommended by our server. The plump meaty scallops were seared to perfection, perched tall and proud on a bed of bomba rice risotto as they were fanned by the strikingly beautiful green leaves of their brussels sprout concubines. Little did they know that the quiet nibbles of chorizo were secretly plotting a coup d’état. Once inside my mouth, the chorizos exploded with vigor and savor to overtake my taste buds in a gratifying and honorable revolution.
‘Linguini and clams’ made with udon noodles, garlic, bacon and littleneck clams was a sensation. I was looking forward to trying this dish, as Chef Mark Gold had told me about these special Inaniwa udon noodles that he discovered on his prior trip to Japan. It seems like an oxymoron to have light flavor and dense texture (which we call ‘koshi‘ in Japan), but that’s the distinct quality of these types of Japanese noodles. It was the perfect choice of carbohydrate to pair with the hearty flavors of bacon, sweet onions and clams. Despite its creaminess, the sauce didn’t seem heavy at all with these noodles, and the freshly chopped parsley also kept the overall flavors fresh and sharp. This, I could eat every day.
Poached beef with cauliflower, chanterelles and salsa verde was also exquisite. The thick cut of sous vide beef was tender and moist, and the surface was seared to a savory smoky crisp. Although the assortment of chanterelle mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots and croutons were a bit dry and frail, the snapping flavors of the salsa verde brought up the energy level of the dish. By this time we were happily finishing off our fantastic bottle of Domaine du Vieux Lazaret 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, whose smooth and well rounded flavors paired exquisitely with the beef.
Flourless chocolate cake with crème fraiche and walnuts was surprisingly light. Flourless chocolate cakes tend to be like a slab of concrete, but each bite of Eva’s cake practically turned to liquid in the warmth of my mouth.
Lemon pudding with citrus foam and thyme leaves was another lesson and discovery in sensational flavor combinations. I tried a bite of just the tangy pudding cake itself, and another with a few thyme leaves, and there was no contest. There was something about the rustic earthiness of this herb that amplified and polished the citrus flavors. This dessert inspired me to experiment with herbs and sweets in my kitchen.
Our dinner at Eva was amazing. I was especially happy that I discovered new remarkable flavor combinations to open up my mind and my palate. The staff was friendly and smart, and everybody seemed genuinely happy to be a part of the Eva family. As an added bonus, sous chef Brian Huskey came out to chat with us and he gave me a packet of the Japanese udon noodles to take home. I plan to honor these delicate Inaniwa udon noodles that came all the way from Akita prefecture, and enjoy them as a simple zaru udon dish. Thank you Brian!
In the meantime, I hope to return to Eva very soon for their Sunday suppers. It’s the best deal in LA right now. Every Sunday from 3pm to 9:30pm, they serve a prix fixe family style dinner for $35 a person which includes food, dessert and wine. It’s not a typo and it’s not a computer glitch… it’s really $35 a head. Hurry and make your reservations.
7458 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2701
Random trivia: When describing the texture of udon noodles, in Japan we often talk about ‘koshi‘, which refers to how chewy or dense the noodles are upon mastication. Udon noodles are made by combining flour, water and salt, and kneading this dough carefully yet powerfully. The flour used for udon noodles contains gliadin and glutenin, 2 types of glycoproteins which form into an elastic and cohesive protein called gluten when mixed with water. By adding salt, these glutens form a stronger mesh that becomes even more dense and chewy, thus forming this texture that we call ‘koshi’. By adjusting the amount of salt in the mixture, one can also adjust the ‘koshi’ of the final product.