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Aug 18, 2006 02:39 AM

LA Chowhounds, is this indicative of "finer" dining menus in LA?

I read an earlier post entitled, "LA Restaurants with no corkage fee?". Fierceminou kindly responded with a recommendation for a restaurant called Bistro K in Pasadena.

I've been looking for a restaurant for my husband and I to try. We are stuck in a junk food rut and are looking to up the cost and quality of our meals. So, I followed the link to Bistro K and read their menu.

I was just wondering if you guys consider the items listed to be indicative of the LA finer dining scene. I'm not asking about the prices, I'm asking about the hoity-toity descriptions and ridiculous sounding combos like:
"Roasted Maple Leaf Duck Breast from Canada served with Zucchini Crumble in a Cotton Candy Syrup Vinegar Infusion with Long Peppercorn From Indonesia"

Please advise. Thanks!


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  1. Well, sometimes menu descriptions can become over wrought efforts at marketing a dish, but on the other hand, sometimes they describe quite well, what it is that you are buying.

    For example, here are a couple of examples for the Josie menu, another example of "fine" dining in L.A.:

    "Salami, Shaved Artichoke, and Arugula Salad
    tossed in extra-virgin olive oil and Meyer lemon juice and sprinkled with toasted Parmigiano."

    "Skewered Seppia with Merguez Sausage
    baby cuttlefish seared with lemon and herbs, over a warm Beluga lentil and fennel salad seasoned with mustard seed oil."

    I think those two descriptions are good, they tell me exactly what to expect.

    On the other hand, "...cotton candy syrup Vinegar [sic] infusion" does sound a little over the top to me. I don't know about the reputation of Bistro K in terms of their food, overall, but I can tell you that Josie has a very good reputation in terms of deliverying on what is promised.

    1. I think that yes, Bistro K seems to be following the current trends in modern fine cuisine by doing two trendy things:

      1. Describing the orgins or specific details of each ingredient

      2. Offering creative dishes that are so unlike traditional dishes from any cultures, such that the require a list of ingredients rather than a title of a dish (for example, you won't see a beef bourgignon listed here)

      And I have to add my .02, while it's nice to know... it's wordy to read a description of each ingredient. And sometimes, I just want a really good beef bourgignon, perhaps with a few extras special ingredients to make it special (such as Neutske's bacon or heirloom sweet pearl onions?).

      1. Certainly ChinoWayne's adjective, overwrought, is appropriate to the description on the menu. And, possibly, even the dish. What's more, the server at Bistro K will probably reiterate the ingredients and you won't be able to bear another word!

        My issues with the service aside, I have had some great food at that place and highly recommend it. I don't think I'd order the dish you pointed out (cotton-candy aversion), but the chef has a unique knack for combining flavors.

        You may need to go soon if BYOB is important. They're getting a bigger space and a liquor license soon; a corkage fee seems imminent.

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. I was doing OK until I got to "Frisée salad tossed with Roasted Pistachios and served with sweet corn tamale 'Elote' and 'Selles sur Cher' goat cheese ripened by Nicole"

            "...oh, I'm so sorry, I only eat 'Selles sur Cher' goat cheese ripened by Michelle."

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Nicole's is a gourment food and cheese shop nearby Bistro K that is well known for doing exactly what French cheese shops do before they sell cheese; namely, she ages it until it is ready to be served which can sometimes be for more than a year. I agree it could have simply said "aged Sulles sur Cher", but for us locals, adding "by Nicole" tells us that it has been aged properly not just kept in the fridge for a week.

              On the broader subject, Bistro K menus do tend toward being occasionally overwrought, but more often the information is to help identify the source of the food item. IMHO the dishes are usually delicious, challenging, and well worth having to put up with the wait.

              1. re: gearoy

                I've never been to Nicole's in Pasadena but had no idea she aged her own cheeses-- a very rare thing in the U.S. That makes me consider driving to Pasadena and it certainly would make me order the dish.

                Does she have a proper room for affinage? To what extent are her cheeses aged?

          2. roast duck breast with zucchini gratin, cotton candy gastrique, and indonesian long pepper

            a little bit better?