Tiara Cafe for dinner tonight -- suggestions?
- ozhead Jan 11, 2008 09:28 AM
Ms. Dr. Oz, the Elder Ozlet and I will be going to the Orpheum Theater (Broadway and 9th, downtown ) this evening to see a Buster Keaton movie on the big screen, with live organ music on the Mighty Wurlitzer. Looking around the internet for a dinner site beforehand, I came upon the Tiara Cafe, a block away on 9th St. The Tiara appears to be primarily a lunch venue serving the fashion district, but serendipitously it is also going to start being open for dinner as of -- wouldn't you know it? -- tonight. So I made a rez, figuring what the heck. Assuming they will be serving the same general kinds of stuff for dinner that they do for lunch, can anybody give me some suggestions as to what's good there?
Despite the lack of response to my request for suggestions, we went to the Tiara Cafe anyhow for dinner last Friday. Indeed, coming through the door at 6:15 we were its very first dinner customers (though the place was doing pretty brisk business by the time we left at 7:30 or so). And we were very, very pleased with the place, both in terms of food and service.
First of all, I loved the water they served: cool but not ice-cold, and infused with grapefruit rind, ginger, mint, and cucumber. Not enough to make the water TASTE like any of these, but enough to make it very subtly fruity, and extremely refreshing.
The menu is in two parts, on separate pages. The first page includes a number of smaller dishes and a couple of larger ones, as well as a $38 tasting menu including 4 of the smaller dishes and dessert; half or more of the dishes on the first page contained animal protein. The second page contained all vegetarian dishes, many of which were essentially the same as the meat- or fish-based dishes on the first page but made with non-animal protein instead.
We -- me, my wife, and 26-year-old daughter -- ordered off the first page, sharing a bunch of the small plates. We had the bean cake (a patty of various beans, sauteed, served with a salad of spicy herbs in a vinagrette); the "bunny bits" (bite-size chunks of deep-fried rabbit meat, with a little remoulade-sorta sauce); fois gras (seared perfectly, served with toast and a mango/ginger salsa); a salad of extremely fresh and mild burrata, drizzled with some very good balsamic vinegar, and artisanal prosciutto, plus greens; a king crab "fresh-wich" (a nice riff on a Vietnamese spring roll); winter bubble bread (a house-made flatbread, crisped and "bubbled" on a grill, with a bunch of middle-eastern sorts of items on top), and a white pizzette (thin pizza dough with fontina cheese, slices of spicy chorizo, and some kind of greens). This was more than enough food for the three of us -- we probably should have ordered only 6 dishes, but had a hard time choosing, so what the heck. The seven dishes, plus a couple of beers, totaled $92 with tax. Plus, after dinner we went over to the open kitchen to thank Fred Eric for the fine meal, and he comped us with a nice chocolate dessert to share.
Service was friendly and informal, and since it was their first night of dinner service they were breaking in some new staff people (so we had two waiters, one of them in training), but very competent. All in all, it was an extremely enjoyable meal, at a restaurant I will go back to for another.
Oh, and the movie we went to after dinner -- Buster Keaton in "Steamboat Bill Jr." (1928) -- silent, with accompaniment by an unbelievably accomplished theater organist on the refurbished Mighty Wurlitzer at the sparklingly refurbished-to-original-1926 grandeur Orpheum Theater on Broadway -- was hilarious, and a revelation for those of us who had never seen a well-produced silent movie on a big screen.
All in all, a terrific Friday evening in Los Angeles.
Great write up, Ozhead. I eat at Tiara fairly often and I would've liked to have given you some advice on what to order, but that was the very first time anyone had seen the menu. Sounds like you did just fine.
I had a very good meal as well on Friday night at Tiara. The menu is a nice change of pace. Some fun, unusual, and inventive items. I had the fois gras, some fried green tomatoes and then a braised and grilled lamb dish. I hope Fred will continue to have fun with the menu and push the envelope a bit. It has the potential to be a really fine addition to the DT dining scene.