Gordon Ramsay at the London – Part Deux

Cooking in the kitchen and inviting people into my home for a nice meal is one of the things that I enjoy the most in life.   I love the intimacy of sharing memorable feasts with special friends.  However, there are times when it’s nice to be on the receiving end- who doesn’t like to be pampered?  After a whole weekend of cooking and hosting for my birthday, I was ready to kick back for some fine dining in LA.  I couldn’t think of any other place to go for a relaxing lunch to celebrate my special day than the Gordon Ramsay restaurant at The London Hotel in West Hollywood.  Last year I celebrated another friend’s birthday there, and we had a spectacular meal.  In addition, one of my favorite sous chefs was working in the kitchen that day.  Chef Kishi did an amazing chef’s tasting lunch for me.

The restaurant greeted me with a wonderful bottle of René Geoffroy Brut Rosé champagne, premier cru.  This was one of the best champagnes that I have had in a very long time.  This champagne, from the Marne Valley in Champagne France, had a mellow yet accomplished taste that was full of fruity flavors.  It had a clean taste that slid across my tongue very smoothly.

We started off with this delicious amuse.  Scottish salmon gravlax with horseradish cream, kumquat confit and microgreens was an explosion of subdued sweetness and rich creaminess.  The tender cut of cured salmon was exquisite in both texture and flavor, and the hint of horseradish was perfect in drawing out the sweet and tart flavors of the kumquat.  Deep fried goat cheese balls in beet root sauce were warm, fluffy and light.

The seafood tartare, made with bluefin tuna, hamachi, wasabi tobiko, apple and daikon cubes, was topped with edible flowers and a generous heap of caviar.  The dish was garnished with ponzu foam, micro cilantro and lemon oil.  Through its many complex layers of flavors and textures, this dish was a carnival of delights in my mouth.  As the light ponzu foam collapsed in my mouth, I could feel the microscopic air bubbles tickle my upper palate and the tart flavors permeate up into my nasal passages. My tongue enjoyed the alternating textures of tender fish, crunchy daikon and apple cubes, and popping fish roe.  I loved the smooth gradation of salty and sour flavors, from the ponzu foam and lemon oil to the delicious caviar.

The duck confit risotto with shimeji mushrooms and maitake tempura was excellent.  I am a huge fan of Chef Kishi’s risottos, as they are always cooked to a perfect consistency.  The morsels of duck were plump and juicy, the tempura battered maitake was crunchy and light, and the light drizzle of truffle oil elevated the beautiful earthy aroma of this fantastic dish.

Monkfish wrapped in prosciutto with creamed brussel sprouts and zucchini was served with a side of cockles and mussels, and dressed with a thai curry sauce.  I expected this dish to be heavy due to the presence of prosciutto, creamed vegetables and thai curry sauce, but it was surprisingly light and easy to eat.  The perfect amount of saltiness from the prosciutto and thai curry sauce complemented the delicate flavors of the fresh fish and mollusks.  Although it was a shame to have to destroy this beautiful dish, I had no problems finishing it off to the last smidgen of sauce.

Braised pork belly proudly took center stage and flaunted its hat of pea sprouts and radish rings, while its mysterious side kick, a pig’s head croquette, sat on a bed of pea purée and pickled red onions in the background.  The slightly crisp exterior of the rolled pork belly was a nice contrast to the warm and moist meat inside, but it wasn’t until I inserted my knife into the unassuming croquette that the show took an abrupt twist.

The deep fried croquette, filled with pig’s head cheese, literally and figuratively exploded onto the scene with its glistening chunks of savory meat and collagen.  The intense richness of these ambrosial delights that had been braised for hours, made me melt in my seat in an amorous swoon.  In a matter of one bite, this once demure and reserved croquette proved itself to be the true showstopper.  The creamy pea purée and the acidity of the pickled onions were fitting stage props that made the pig’s head taste even better.  I gave a standing ovation to this shining star.

This refreshing dessert had layers of grapefruit confit, mint leaves, grapefruit granité, mint granité and grapefruit foam.  The progression of textures through the different icy cold layers was really enjoyable.  The tart and citrus flavors sent an invigorating splash of cool to my taste buds.

Our superb tasting menu concluded with this cute chocolate mousse birthday cake that made me really happy.  No matter how old we get, it’s always a special and innocent moment to blow out a birthday candle and make a wish.  With this amazing lunch at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant, I was able to finish my birthday weekend with a big successful bang.  Délicieux!

The Gordon Ramsay at the London, West Hollywood

1020 N. San Vicente Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Ph: 1-866-282-4560

Random trivia: Did you know that kumquats, also known as ‘the little gold gems of the citrus family’, are the only citrus fruits that can be eaten ‘skin and all’?  In fact, the peel is the sweetest part of the fruit and the pulp is sour.

Bistro LQ

IMG_1030 When I first looked at Bistro LQ’s menu online, I got excited.  Really really excited.  A French restaurant in Los Angeles serving frog legs, foie gras, sweetbreads, head cheese, bone marrow, baby eel, duck gizzards, goat tripe and lamb tongue was a dream come true.  I almost cried tears of joy as I double and triple checked the website to make sure these weren’t typos.  Once inside the restaurant, decorated with floating glass globes that illuminated the tall ceilings, the menu read beautifully with a diversity of proteins and creative preparations that I had never seen before.

There was a lot oIMG_0946f thought and creativity infused into the description of each dish, and Chef Quenioux is not afraid to experiment with bold concepts and expensive delicacies.  It was difficult not to order everything on the menu.

The complimentary amuse bouche was a mussel over polenta with veal jus and lemongrass.  The polenta had a wonderful consistency, but the mussel had a slightly musty flavor.

IMG_0952 We started off with the foie gras 3 ways.  The first was a sautéed foie gras on top of roasted unagi with smoked green apple infusion sauce.  The dish looked mouthwateringly delicious, but the foie gras was unfortunately quite firm in consistency and overcooked.  The combination of foie gras with eel and apple sauce was a complex one that I was not able to appreciate in that one dish.

The other 2 preparations of foie gras came on a long rectangular glass plate.  The torchon style foie with violet scented bitter chocolate was divine.  The incredibly flavorful and tender foie paired beautifully with the bitterness of the thin dark chocolate squares, making for one of my favorite bites of the evening.  The Earl Grey tea roll, however, was hard and dry, reminding me of those stale airplane rolls that come in plastic bags on economy class food trays.

IMG_0955The foie gras sandwiched between quince marshmallows was a delight.  The marshmallows had an almost erotic supple pillowy consistency to them, and the foie was just as soft and delicate.  Except for the clear quince gelée, which was overwhelmingly sweet, this was a fairly good dish.


The head cheese filo with watercress bouquet and anchovy emulsion was my other favorite dish of the evening.  As I cut through the middle of the filo packet effortlessly with my fork, the thousands of flaky layers of filo gave way to an incredibly rich and flavorful stew of warm head cheese.  The large chunks of tender head meat and collagenous marvels were well balanced with the tartness of the watercress and the salty anchovy emulsion.  This anchovy sauce, a concentrated version of the best bagna cauda you can ever have, was outstanding.

IMG_0963The frog legs were not so exciting.  The barbecue sauce was like American bbq sauce, and the spicy violet and begonia chutney an overly sweet version of Indian mango chutney.  Given Quenioux’s training in French cuisine, I hoped that he would serve frog legs the classic way- pan fried with garlic, butter and parsley.

The eel roll with fresh herbs was not only overcooked and dry, but also served with a plum sauce that was too sweet.  It was accompanied with chanterelle mushroom and grits, which was actually quite flavorful with a nice texture.  There was a small cIMG_0969rock pot of baby eels grilled with piment d’Espellete.  I was really looking forward to this dish, hoping for a true Basque rendition, but the eels were extremely soggy.  In fact, the oily eels easily broke apart, as if it had been marinating for months.  I was hoping for at least a little bit of texture.



I was really interested in trying the monkfish cheeks.  I’ve had beef, veal and pork cheeks before, all of which have been flavorful and tender.  Why not monkfish cheeks?  After the foie, it’s probably the second most flavorful part of the fish.  I’m surprised other restaurants don’t serve it, considering how cheap the overhead is.  Well, this dish at Bistro LQ was a let down.  The cheek meat was overcooked, tough, dry and stringy.  However, the cipollini onions had a wonderful sweetness which paired well with the pomegranate molasses.  The molasses sauce was perfectly tart and sour, and it would go well on risotto among other things.


The menu item I was most excited about was the lamb composition with medium rare roasted lamb chop, sautéed kidney, sautéed sweetbreads, poached tongue and shoulder confit with swiss chard gratin and jus roti with lemon and star anise.  Lamb is my favorite meat, and I love organs more than meats.  This dish for me was the ultimate extravaganza and dream come true.


The lamb chop was well done, the sweetbreads were overcooked, the tongue was dry and tough, and the kidneys were stale.  I was so disappointed, I felt like crying. The swiss chard gratin didn’t provide any consolation either.  A delicious glass of Joseph Swan ‘Cuvée des Trois’ Pinot Noir from Sonoma saved my sour mood.


The baby goat braised with Guajillo peppers and oregano scented tripes was also a disappointment.  The dry stringy goat meat, made into something that looked and tasted like a deep fried egg roll, was mediocre street food.  The tripe was too gamey and left a bad aftertaste.  I’m not sure if enough proper care went into its preparation.

The first dessert we had was the coconut dacquoise, Italian merinques with Mexican green onions, cilantro, fresh coconut and tartar of fresh mangoes with mastic powder.  It was an interesting dessert- I’ve never seen green onions and cilantro in a dessert dish.  I wasn’t too keen on the combination of flavors.

IMG_1019The composition around dark chocolate was much better.  The mole chocolate mousse with hints of complex Mexican spices was deep and tantalizing, and pouring warm dark chocolate sauce on it made it even more decadent.  The chocolate pancake with mascarpone cheese and chocolate oil was light and soft, and the soufflé style chocolate with szechuan peppercorn was wonderful.



The most exciting part of the evening was the cheese cart.  They pulled out a spectacular rolling wooden cheese cart to the table side that was filled with classic and rare French cheeses.  Our French server was extremely knowledgeable about each cheese, where it came from and what it tasted like. It was so difficult to decide which ones to try, as in a perfect world one should be able to try all of them.


We received 8 small mason jars containing different cheese condiments.  From what I could taste, they included: roasted cumin seeds, blueberry gelée, sweet onion jam, bell pepper mustard, cranberry chutney, green tomato compote and green tomatillo ketchup.  It was really fun to experiment with different taste combinations of cheeses and condiments, though ideally it would have been nice to receive guidance from the restaurant.


IMG_1021As I savored the lemon and raspberry macaroons and wonderful marshmallow that came as our petit fours, I reflected on the Bistro LQ experience.  I wanted to call this my new favorite restaurant.  I envisioned myself going here every other week, feeling torn between the venison tartar and slow cooked scottish hare, or shall it be wild boar shank versus pigeon with gizzards and heart?  But alas, the menu and the vision was too ambitious, and the execution just could not keep up.  However, I support Quenioux’s vision and his willingness to serve bold dishes rich in game and organ meats, so I look forward to revisiting Bistro LQ again.

Bistro LQ

Random trivia:  Did you know that when piment d’Espelette (Espelette pepper) was first introduced to Europe in the 17th century, it was considered a cheap and reasonable substitute for black pepper, which was extremely expensive at that time?  Now the roles have reversed.  Piment d’Espelette retails at about $20 per 40 gram jar.


I recently had delicious Sunday brunch at Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, where the old Morton’s space used to be on the corner of Robertson and Melrose.  I had already heard great reviews about Cecconi’s, whose original flagship restaurant was in London.  As soon as I walked into the restaurant on that bright sunny Sunday afternoon, I was in love.  The large outdoor patio with comfortable and inviting benches adorned with plush white shabby chic cushions took my breath away.  Brilliant sunlight spilled generously over the entire patio, illuminating the colorful flowers behind the couches as chirping birds filled the air with summer song.  IMG_9810Large open wooden framed accordion doors separated the patio from the inside dining room and bar.  The center bar, made of white and black marble countertops and tall teal colored leather barstools with brass studs, was lined with perfectly polished wine glasses and colorful bottles of liquer.  Middle aged men in jeans and collared shirts drinking bourbon seemed relaxed and happy as they chatted with the handsome bartenders through hanging hams and sausages.  To the left of the dining room was a gorgeous private room called the Butterfly Room, ornamented with a large chandelier, tall iron candelabra and a large orange heart-shaped wall installation with floating butterflies.  As the servers promptly set my table with crisp white napkins, silver salt and pepper shakers and polished cutlery,  I felt like nobility in this peaceful colonial chic restaurant.

We started off with freshly squeezed blood orange juice which was nicely tart and refreshing.  Each order was an entire full carafe of juice, which I appreciated.  The grilled squid salad with lentils, spicy salami and sundried tomato was marvelous.  It’s actually difficult to find a restaurant here in Los Angeles that not only serves squid but does it well.  The thick cuts were perfectly cooked to an exquisite tenderness, and the saltiness from the salami and sun dried tomatoes was well balanced.


The baked pancetta frittata came straight out of their wood baked oven behind the bar.  The eggs were cooked just right and the pancetta had great savory smokey flavor.


I loved their thin crusted wood baked pizza with homemade sausage and roasted red peppers.  The crust had a splendid chewy consistency with a crispy warm outer shell, and the sausage was delicious.


So far so good…I felt confident that they would make a good tiramisu.  I still have yet to encounter a restaurant that can make a tiramisu better than mine, but this one was pretty close.  The sweetness of the mascarpone was nicely subdued, and the ladyfingers were perfectly soaked.


Too bad I was only there for brunch that day with one other friend, otherwise I could have ordered much more.  I will definitely be back to try more items like their pastas and grilled meats.  I also have my eye on their cicchettis (Italian tapas), such as the bone marrow with focaccia, grilled octopus, and zucchini blossoms.  What’s amazing about this elegant restaurant is that they are open for almost 24 hours.  I can go for early breakfast at 7am, lunch at noon, afternoon eats at 4pm, dinner at 8pm or afterhours munchies at 1am.  Or maybe I’ll just hang out on one of their comfortable patio couches for a continuous 19 hour Cecconi fest.


Random trivia:   Did you know that in the male squid, one smaller arm is modified for the purpose of planting a packet of sperm in the female’s oviduct?  Next time you eat these scrumptous long delicacies, see if you can tell which one that is!

Or not…



Hatfield’s Restaurant in West Hollywood has been a solid establishment for many years, receiving recognition and praise from numerous gourmet magazines and critics.  I don’t know why I waited so long to dine there- in fact, I dined there the week before they closed down the Beverly location.  It was high on my radar since the time I read the article in Los Angeles Magazine some few years back when they won Best Restaurant of the Year.  I was excited to finally try Quinn Hatfield’s food and wife Karen Hatfield’s famed desserts.

The store front is almost easy to miss, but once inside it’s a peaceful zen haven from the hectic streets of Los Angeles.  Soft glowing candlelight on top of perfectly ironed white tablecloths illuminate the simple minimalist decor which is tended to by courteous and attentive servers who stand tall, straight and confident.  We were offered complimentary starters of sweet corn chowder and deviled quail eggs with smoked trout.  The deviled eggs with smoked trout were wonderfully flavorful with a smooth creamy texture, and the sweetness of the summer corn chowder reminded me of happy childhood memories.

The warm cuttlefish salad with sunchoke purée, sautéed maitake mushrooms, baby arugula and crispy artichoke was my favorite dish of the evening.  It was only their 2nd day of serving this dish, and I hope it will remain a staple on their menu.


The cuttlefish was thinly sliced and cooked rare to maintain a tender and delicate consistency.  The components of this dish were all simple and  uncomplicated, and the preparation was unassuming and unpretentious.  Yet, it was one of the most incredible dishes.  It paired wonderfully with the sharp dryness of a glass of Voignier.

I was interested to try the roasted Bobo Farm foie gras with pain d’epice crust, beluga lentils and apple rosemary purée.  I’ve had plenty of Hudson Valley Farms foie gras, but never tried the Bobo Farm version (both from upstate New York).  It was quite lovely with a nice fatty robust flavor and delicate tender consistency.


I wasn’t crazy about the apple cider purée at first when I tasted it solo, but when paired with the foie gras it mellowed out the fattiness of the foie really well.  The maitake also when eaten solo was just okay, but when combining all of the components of this dish together in one bite, it made sense.  This dish paired fabulously with a glass of Albariño that had a wonderful sweet intensity and depth yet with a light finish.

Next we had the slow roasted pork belly with brown butter asparagus, apricot mustard and fines herbes salad.  This was another dish, like the foie gras, where all of the components needed to be eaten together to truly enjoy the chef’s vision.  Still, the apricot purée was way too sweet for my taste and overpowered all of the other flavors.  The asparagus and leeks were cooked to a perfect consistency and the pork was nicely tender.


I’m not one to ever order fish entrées as I’m usually never impressed, and this was another experience in which I was right.  My dining partner ordered the Branzino filet with roasted haricot vert, red onion soubise, dried apricot, crispy almonds and caper crunch which was just okay.  The dish was plated beautifully wtih vibrant colors and layers of different textures, but none of the flavors really popped out, and the apricot bits added an overwhelming sweetness to the dish.


On the other hand, my meat dish of pan roasted hanger steak and slow cooked horseradish dusted short ribs with spring onion confit and smoked potato purée was a delight.  Both cuts of meat were superbly tender, but I especially enjoyed the perfectly roasted hanger steak.  There was a lot of incredible flavor and juice in each slice of steak, and the reduction sauce was simple, classic and delectable.  A beautiful pairing with a rich glass of Malbec.


I was really surprised that the component I enjoyed the most on this dish was the smoked potato purée.  In case you haven’t noticed, all of the dishes have some type of vegetable or fruit purée generously carpeted under the other components.  I didn’t particularly enjoy the super sweet apple cider or apricot purées in the previous dishes, so I wasn’t excited to pick at yet another purée.  This was probably the best mashed potatoes I have ever tasted in my life.  With a perfect rich and creamy consistency and the most insane smokey flavor, these potatoes were marvelous.  I think I put down my fork and used my fingers to wipe off the last visible bits of potato.

For dessert I thoroughly enjoyed the sugar and spice dusted beignets with Venezuelan chocolate fondue and vanilla malted milkshake shot.  The cinnamon dusted beignets were heavenly- these warm pillows of delight were so cushiony soft like big marshmallows that I had to eat them quickly before they floated up into the sky.  The warm Venezuelan dark chocolate fondue was rich and sumptuous, and the vanilla malted milkshake shot was even better.  I can’t believe they only give you a small shot glass- give me a pint! This dessert was aptly paired with a glass of 10 year Tawny port.  Perfection.


The chilled Santa Rosa plum soup with vanilla-candied ginger ice cream and almond macaroon sandwich was okay.  The plum soup was certainly refreshing with a nice balance of sweet and tart, but I wasn’t crazy about the macaroon sandwich.  A bit too heavy and starchy for the end of this meal.  However, it was elegantly paired with Moscat d’Asti dessert wine that was light and fruity.


Overall my meal at Hatfield’s was pretty impressive.  Quinn Hatfield has good command of seasonal ingredients and I love his no-fuss style.  In this age where chefs try too hard to fancy up their cuisine with powdered this, nitrogen frozen that or foamed these, it was refreshing to have a no-nonsense good meal with simple fresh ingredients and solid execution.


6703 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 935-2977

Hatfield’s recently closed down their Beverly Boulevard location, and re-opened in the previous Red Pearl Kitchen space on Melrose Avenue.  Meanwhile, Chef Mark Gold has taken over the Beverly space and opened his new restaurant Eva.

Random trivia:  Maitake in Japanese means ‘dancing mushroom’, named because the shape of the mushroom resembles that of a dancing nymph.  It is also believed that the origin of the name comes from the fact that maitake are rare and precious, so those who found it danced with joy.

Petrossian Caviar

Petrossian Caviar in Beverly Hills recently re-opened under the creative direction of executive chef Benjamin Bailly, a distinguished and talented chef.  Benjamin, having recently worked at Ortolan and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, has worked side by side and traveled with Joel Robuchon in his many restaurants around the world.  It was an absolute treat and privilege to have him prepare an extravagant tasting menu for my friend’s birthday party recently.

Chef Benjamin Bailly

Chef Benjamin Bailly

If you know the old Petrossian Caviar space, you’ll be amazed by the transformation.  The expanded space feels even larger and brighter with the floor to ceiling glass walls that look out onto Robertson Boulevard.  The dining room has plush comfortable black leather banquettes, tall ceilings, and riveting black and white photos of Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Marlon Brando on the walls that are simply irresistible. What a grand feeling to be sipping on champagne and nibbling on caviar with these Hollywood stars!

Gorgeous dining room

Gorgeous dining room

The other section of the restaurant houses the open kitchen, a large communal table and display cases in a similar contemporary layout.  The communal table is a warm and inviting place for people to gather, and you can get a perfect view of the bustle of the kitchen.

Communal table and open kitchen at night

Communal table and open kitchen at night

Communal table and café by day

Communal table and café by day

Petrossian Caviar has been a leading purveyor of caviar since 1920 when it first opened shop in Paris.  You can find an amazing and complete selection of precious caviar here, from the local Californian farm-raised Royal Transmontanus Caviar, to well-known Ossetras and Sevrugas, to the ultimate indulgence Imperial Special Reserve Stellattus for $617/ 1 ounce.  They also sell a wonderful array of smoked fish (salmon, sturgeon, cod), foie gras, truffles, chocolates, jams, wines and champagnes.

Display case of delightful delicacies

Display case of delightful delicacies

Our wonderful dinner commenced with a new Petrossian signature drink- hibiscus champagne.  Each glass contains a whole organic wild hibiscus flower in syrup with champagne.  The hibiscus flower gives this drink a beautiful crimson color and a delicious sweet fruity flavor.  This was one of the most surprising discoveries and delightful drinks that I have had in a long time.  The best part of this drink was eating the champagne-soaked hibiscus at the end. 

Hibiscus champagne

Hibiscus champagne

One cannot leave Petrossian without eating their signature caviar blinis.  The sharp and robust Transmontanus caviar on soft tender warm blinis and dill crème fraîche is simply divine.  These small black pearls have fierce powerful flavors that permeate into the depths of my taste buds with supreme force.  The salmon roe blinis were also a joy, but oh, the sturgeon caviar!

Caviar and salmon roe blinis

Caviar and salmon roe blinis

Next we had shots of their classic cold borscht and cantaloupe gazpacho.  I loved the bright pink borscht- the sweet dense earthiness of red beets with a tart cherry vinegar finish.  A lovely and refreshing soup that can instantly rejuvenate and energize- this would be perfect after a long day at work.  The cantaloupe gazpacho had a wonderful balance of fruity sweetness and a tart ginger kick.  This is the perfect complement to a hot summer day.

Borscht and gazpacho

Borscht and gazpacho

My favorite dish of the evening was the foie gras and black truffle paté with fleur de sel on toast.  How can you go wrong with foie gras and black truffle?  Well, actually it is an art to prepare these delicacies, and Benjamin was impeccable in his execution.  The foie gras melted like butter in my mouth, and each additional bite awakened more of the energetic earthy aroma of black truffle. 

Foie gras and black truffle canapés

Foie gras and black truffle canapés

The Petrossian Jell-o was a refreshing contrast to the savory foie gras.  Yuzu marinated baby scallop ceviche with caviar, diced green apples, ginger and chives on a bed of green apple jell-o topped with apple foam.  It was a delightful and pleasing play of textures, with the airy light apple foam, super crisp diced apples, tender scallops and soft jiggly jell-o.  Dig your spoon all the way down to the bottom of the glass to get all of the layers of textures and flavors.  The combination of yuzu, ginger and apples give this dish a fun tart citrus kick.

Petrossian Jell-o

Petrossian Jell-o

The green asparagus risotto with parmesan and pinenuts topped with salmon roe and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction  was scrumptious.  The green asparagus slices were cooked perfectly, still maintaining a slight crunch.  The creamy parmesan risotto, salty salmon roe and mellow acidity and sweetness of the balsamic reduction was a winning combination.

Asparagus risotto

Asparagus risotto

The Scallops ‘a la plancha’ finished the savory portion of our meal.  The black pepper-seasoned seared scallops were cooked perfectly, maintaining a tender, plump and meaty texture.  They were presented on a bed of carrot purée, topped with orange foam and plated with balsamic reduction.  The sweetness of the soft carrot purée, the intense acidity of the orange foam and the dark richness of the balsamic reduction made for an interesting and complex combination of flavors.

Scallops a la plancha

Scallops a la plancha

We had 2 absolutely wonderful desserts.  The Sicilian pistachio crème brulée was superbly nutty, earthy and aromatic, and the caramel crust was perfectly crispy.

Sicilian pistachio crème brulée

Sicilian pistachio crème brulée

The vanilla panna cotta with white peach confit and white peach espuma was dazzling.  There are 2 variations to this divine dessert- one with oven roasted organic granola in the center peach confit layer, and another with caviar on top.  This was a very delicate and sophisticated dessert that wasn’t too sweet.  Just like the scallop ceviche dish, it was fun to dig my spoon all the way to the bottom of the glass to get all of the different layers of textures and flavors in each heavenly bite. 

White peach dessert with vanilla panna cotta

White peach dessert with vanilla panna cotta

Petrossian also sells a large assortment of delicate Parisian chocolates.  IMG_8965Other dishes that were delicious on a previous visit to Petrossian were the Tzar Cut Trio (a trio of classic, black sea spice and dill marinated smoked salmon) and the succulent burger.  The smoked salmon slices were served with toast points, crème fraîche and caper berries.  A must try- I really loved the black sea spice salmon.  The burger I had with caramelized onions and sun dried tomatoes was nice, but now they have revised it to a juicy Kobe beef burger with truffle cheese, onion marmalade and arugula. 

Tzar cut trio

Tzar cut trio

Petrossian burger

Petrossian burger

Petrossian Caviar is now doing Happy Hour every day from 5-8pm.  You can enjoy wonderful champagnes and delicious food in an inviting and open environment with friendly staff who will take good care of you.  Whether you are looking for a casual lunch, after work drinks, Sunday brunch al fresco, or a formal elegant dinner, Petrossian Cafe and Chef Benjamin Bailly will please your senses.

Petrossian Paris Boutique and Restaurant

321 North Robertson Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90048-2415
(310) 271-6300

Random trivia: Did you know that the only thing that genetically separates a peach from a nectarine is a recessive gene that expresses ‘fuzz’?

Gordon Ramsay at the London – Part One

Gordon Ramsay.  Need I say more?  We love him and we hate him.  We all love his food, and we love watching him throw a temper tantrum on TV. But we would never want to bring him home to meet the parents.

Thankfully, my experience at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant at The London Hotel in West Hollywood was tranquil and laid back.  I had a superb experience thanks to my wonderful friend Haru, the sous chef there.  Ramsay sold the restaurant to the hotel a couple of weeks ago, but it didn’t affect the tasty creations that came from the kitchen.  Chef Haru did an amazing omakase style meal for us.

The restaurant interior is gorgeous and decadent.  Here is one of the private rooms:

private dining room

private dining room

I fell in love with the bar- Miami chic meets Monaco vogue?  I would love to go back to have a drink there.

The bar

The bar

We started with a trio of canapés, beautifully displayed on a plate:

Trio of starters

Trio of starters

Cod spring roll, smoked salmon and cucumber roll topped with caviar, and beef carpaccio with watercress salad, radish, shallot rings and lemon oil.  I loved the hint of lemon oil in the beef carpaccio canapé.

Next, a cherry gazpacho with celery and green apple, accompanied with roasted hand-dived sea scallops and watermelon.

Cherry gazpacho

Cherry gazpacho

This was one of my favorite dishes.  It was very refreshing, with so many flavors and textures to tickle my tongue.  I loved the slight tartness of the gazpacho with the crisp textures of celery and apple.

And now….for my absolute favorite dish of the day.  Actually, it may have been my absolute favorite dish of the year.  The foie gras chawanmushi.

Chawanmushi is a traditional Japanese dish of steamed egg custard.  ‘Chawan’ is a Japanese ceramic bowl or cup, and ‘mushi’ means to steam.  My mother used to make it all the time with chicken, shiitake mushrooms and shrimp.  This was the first time I ever had such a creative take on this dish.  I apologize that you cannot see the custard very well in this photo, but underneath the bread, white shimeji mushrooms, edamame and daikon radish sprouts are sprinkled bits of crispy deep fried duck tongue.  The savory foie gras custard was rich and silky smooth, with a complex depth of flavor reminiscent of black truffle and 40 year port wine.  This dish is too good for words. It’s culinary ecstasy.

Next we had broiled black cod topped with pig’s tails and kumamoto oysters, with a celeriac purée and beef jus.

Yes, pig’s tails.  They have just as much tasty fat and meat as the pork belly does.  The cod was cooked perfectly and was very moist.  The simple light flavor of the cod went very well with the rich topping of oyster and crunchy pig’s tails.  I loved the beautiful yet simple presentation of this dish.

Roasted duck confit with braised red cabbage and mustard sauce finished the savory portion of the meal.

I love duck confit, and this one we had was superb.  The meat was very tender and succulent.  It was plump and moist, unlike most duck leg confits that I have had, which tend to be very dry and overcooked.  I wish the skin was a little more crispy, but otherwise it was close to perfect.

And now, mesdames et messieurs, may I present to you… the dessert orgy.

We were celebrating my friend’s birthday, and it was so sweet to get this raspberry sorbet from the restaurant.  Just to clarify, the chocolate writing was meant to say Happy Anniversaire (anniversaire is birthday in French).

We all loved this dessert, the confit of grapefruit with grapefruit sorbet, passion fruit and mint foam.

Such a refreshing and light dessert that served as a wonderful palate cleanser.  The grapefruit segments were juicy and sweet, contrasting with the tartness of the grapefruit zest and passion fruit, with a light airy lingering finish of the mint foam.  A superb dessert that was an absolute delight.

For you chocolate lovers out there, the Valrhona chocolate fondant with brown butter caramel and vanilla ice cream was delicious.

A chocolate fondant is like a lava cake, with a runny and molten center.  Underneath that frosted baked top layer is a thick pool of pure chocolate heaven.  Each bite delivered a rich silky smooth chocolate warmness throughout my mouth.  Such indulgence!

The next dessert was a chilled coconut tapioca with passion fruit, with candied ginger and milk chocolate & star anise gelato.

Another spectacular dessert.  I loved the different textures involved in this dessert- crunchy, silky, smooth, milky, and chewy.  The birthday girl loved this one.

And finally, my favorite dessert of them all, the dark chocolate cylinder filled with passion fruit, mint granite and coconut foam.

I was pleasantly surprised to break open the chocolate cylinder and see a gush of vibrant colors- green, whit and yellow.  And again, so many different textures to stimulate my tongue.  I should have taken a picture of the dessert after the cylinder was broken, but we finished it too quickly.  It was a beautiful dessert to look at and to eat- edible art.

I want to point out that all of these desserts came out at the same time.  Picture 3 very happy women sitting around a table filled with all of these delicious desserts, spoon in one hand with wide sparkling eyes and ridiculously large smiles.

I had the most wonderful dining experience here, and I owe it all to the wonderful sous chef Haru.  This is what it’s all about, when you can taste the chef’s love and passion in every bite.

Gordon Ramsay at the London Hotel, West Hollywood

1020 North San Vicente Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069-3802
(310) 854-1111

Random trivia: Did you know that only domestic pigs have curly tails?  Wild pigs have straight tails.

Comme ça

There’s nothing I love more than dining out with fellow foodies.   I love sharing meals with foodie friends, especially when we have the same taste in food and have perfect culinary chemistry.  I love exchanging information and opinions about restaurant history and culture, about which dish we love at what restaurant, which chef left which restaurant to open up his/her own place, who trained with which culinary master, etc.  And that is how I heard of the shocking news yesterday as I dined at Comme ça with one such friend.

Comme ça

Comme ça

Comme ça is a cute and lovely French bistro that chef David Myers opened up a year and a half ago in West Hollywood.  He is most recently famous for the success of his restaurant Sona that he opened up in Los Angeles a few years ago.  Sona was well known for its desserts that were created by his wife and pastry chef Michelle Myers.  Her success led her to open Boule patisserie across the street where I used to buy macaroons and artisanal chocolates.

I drove by Boule the other day and noticed that it was vacant and closed down.  What happened?  Divorce, my friend Shirley told me yesterday, as we nibbled on French bistro-style comfort food in the spacious and beautiful dining room of Comme ça.

Entrance to Comme ça

Entrance to Comme ça

Comme ça bar

Comme ça bar

Gulp….gasp.  Divorce.  Yes, the restaurant world has just as much gossip worthy of being featured in Us magazine as Hollywood does.  I’m sad to see Boule close down.  It was such a charming patisserie and I loved their signature robin’s egg blue and chocolate brown color swatches.    Their chocolate and sweets gift boxes made for wonderful presents.

But no time for lamenting, we must get back to the food.

For starters, Chef Creek oysters and Fanny Bay oysters from British Columbia.



The Chef Creek oysters were big and plump, and had a crisp lettuce taste with a briny finish.  The Fanny Bays were smaller and flatter, with a light crisp cucumber finish.  I really liked the Fanny Bays.  They were so fresh, light and pleasant to eat.  I could easily eat a few dozen of them in one sitting.

We ordered very classic French bistro comfort food- moules frites and steak frites.

Moules frites

Moules frites

The moules frites were cooked in a lovely pernod sauce with celery, onions, shallots, thyme and tarragon.  I couldn’t get enough of the sauce, and kept lapping it up with their freshly baked piping hot baguettes.  Pernod is a type of liqueur called pastis, which is produced from licorice plant or anise.  It clouds up with the addition of water, which is what probably gave the sauce a white/yellow opaque color.  Ricard is one of the most famous French brands of pastis.  I had it for the first time, ironically, in the middle of the African bush in Liberia.  When I was doing medical humanitarian work  in 2006 in West Africa, one of the French ex-pats Guillaume brought a bottle of Ricard with him.  He cradled it very carefully in his arms as if holding a baby, and brought it all the way from Paris.  We all have those few comfort items that we just cannot live without.  For him, Ricard was one of them.  The night he arrived, we stayed up all night long talking and laughing while smoking Guinean cigarettes and drinking straight Ricard, in the middle of the West African jungle.  I have such fond memories of those days!

Steak frites

Steak frites

The steak was a prime flat iron center cut, grilled perfectly medium (though I ordered it medium rare) topped with tarragon butter and accompanied by one of my all time favorite foods in the world- pommes frites with aioli.  The pommes frites were done just how I like them- long, thin, and crispy.

Brioche chocolate bread pudding

Brioche chocolate bread pudding

Shirley, being a huge dessert buff, took a really long time deciding which dessert to have.  Strawberry clafoutis?  Chocolate pot de creme?  We followed our waiter’s recommendation and ordered the chocolate brioche bread pudding.  It was really rich, thick and sweet.  I felt like I was biting into a bar of chocolate (but that’s just me, I don’t have a sweet tooth).  The vanilla ice cream was delicious.  Shirley didn’t seem too happy with the waiter’s choice, and was regretting not following her heart and ordering the pot de creme.  There’s always a next time.

I recommend this restaurant not only for the food, but for the ambiance.  The dining room is absolutely beautiful and has such character.  White leather benches with bright red cushions, antique mirrors on one side of the wall, and cookbooks on the other side which is flanked by the liquor bar and the cheese bar.  If you want French comfort food, you will find it here at Comme ça.


Random trivia:  Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, a 40 year old, petite 105 pound Korean-American female competitive eater (that is her actual occupation) holds the current world record for oyster eating.  She ate 46 dozen oysters in 10 minutes.  Her most famous win is for 37 hotdogs in 12 minutes.  She is ranked 5th in the world for competitive eating. She is single.