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Chadwick: A Clear Winner

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Every year, I get a few precious days off around Christmas-time to return to LA for a visit with family and lots of good chow. I’ll spend 6 of my 7 days back in LA guzzling Chinese food and trying to satisfy those peculiar cravings which I can’t seem to satisfy back in New York. However, I’ve made it a tradition to spend one evening with my sisters at a “nicer” restaurant for a leisurely dinner. It all started with Patina and has included the likes of Spago, Chinois, Joe’s, and Campanille. I agonized for days over this current expedition. LA was running out of must-try restaurants. Having visited me in New York and having gone to Daniel, we decided to stay away from LA French restaurants. After much debate, I decided to take a gamble with Chadwick.
The décor was cozy and very likable. It reminded me of Gramercy Tavern in New York. We started with an amuse of goat cheese and baby field greens. The sweet greens and the creamy cheese were joined in perfect union by a small puddle of herb oil. Stellar.

Appetizers: Duck Proscuitto with Chanterelles, Irish Salmon with Fennel and Tangerines, Baby Spinach Leaves with Mushrooms, Eggs, and Bacon, Tomato Soup.

My sisters loved their duck proscuitto and irish salmon. I tried some of the salmon. That warm satin texture of the salmon was contrasted perfectly by the crisp fennel and again by the sweetness of the tangerine. I guess that’s why the salmon/fennel combination is now as ubiquitous as warm chocolate cake and ice cream and almost as classic as a burger and shake. I had the deceptively simply tomato soup. I’m not usually a fan of tomato soups, but something told me that it would be good here. It was. The warm soup was spiked with cream and a bit of cumin which gave the soup a warm complexion. It was also served with deliciously savory croutons and herb oil which elevated each spoonful to a higher plane. My friend liked the salad of baby spinach leaves which was fresh and tasty, but nothing ingenious.

Entrees: Seared Scallops with Salsify Three-ways, Roasted Rack of Colorado Lamb, Filet Mignon stuffed with Roquefort cheese, Squab with Foie Gras.

Surprisingly, Chadwick came off a little weak on the fish entrees. There were only 2 fish selections (aside from the scallops) neither of which were captivating—-surprising since I have a penchant for fish. The scallops came with roasted, pureed, and fried salsify. Another soon-to-be classic combination. The subtle sweetness and the subtle warmness of the salsify were near perfect. The lamb and the filet were good but not really standouts. I had the squab with foie gras which was very flavorful, very rich, and very enjoyable. A surprising feat since squab preparations can become so mundane.

Dessert: The Ubiquitous Warm Chocolate Cake with Mocha Ice Cream, Banana Fosters, Chocolate Mouse, Poached Pear in Filo.

Chadwick had an amazing cheese selection and I nearly cried when I realized that we were all too full to sample the cheeses. The selection itself was worth ordering an entire bottle of wine for. Next time...next time. For dessert, we also had a pot of the mint tea--simply, a bunch of mint steeped in hot water and served in a glass pot. Very simple and very refreshing. The desserts were stellar. The poached pear in filo was my personal favorite. Perfectly poached pear in a perfectly crispy and slightly sweet pastry. A strong end to an excellent meal.

Overall, my little sister and I ranked Chadwick after Patina as best in LA. My other sister placed Chadwick third—-after Patina and Spago. We agreed though, that the desserts were by far the best of the restaurants that we’ve visited in LA. Hats off to the pastry chef.

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