Need a great meal for dinner with NY business associate. Thinking of Bistro LQ, Comme Ca or Church & State, but open to other cuisine. Just needs to be great with good wine list. Prefer Westside but will drive.
Church & State
1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021
8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048
When you mention a good wine list and the west side the first place that comes to mind is Valentino's on Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica. No better wine list exists in Los Angeles. Have you been to Wilshire before? That might be a good choice and there is always Melisse if you want an upscale French experience rather than Bistro.
1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
2454 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404
We happen to prefer Vin Bar because it is so casual. Also you can order from the regular Valentino, if you prefer. My bottom line comment about Vin Bar/Valentino is that it just gets better and better. As usual we didn’t order or look at a menu. We just let Nico devise our menu.
Mumm champagne to start
Piero and I were chatting before our meal began and I mentioned the pop-up dinner that my son had just done at Royal T and that he had devised an all uni menu in honor of me. At that moment, our first course arrived - Sea Urchin with Blood Orange Segments and Blood Orange Juice – delicious.
First Wine – This wine is made by the monks in a convent near the Austrian border – clear simple crisp white wine
A perfect bread basket
Oscetra Caviar on a quenelle of burrata cheese with a touch of olive oil on the bottom and a dot of beet sauce. This is a classic combination and one that I am definitely going to steal and do at home.
Coniglio in porchetta – rabbit wrapped in porchetta served with pear slices, a dried apricot and a sprig of rosemary (In the Italian language, “coniglio” means “rabbit” or “hare”. The name is from the Latin “cuniculus”, which also means “burrow”, “tunnel”, or “waterway”.) Another winner.
Polenta, Quail Egg, Artichoke, Butternut Squash – Piero described this as a torta. From a google search, I found the following description – “Torte of various designs are made all over Italy today, but the Ligurians seem to produce the thing in its purest form—just dough and filling, unelaborated, undecorated, elemental. The only potentially complex Ligurian torta, in fact, is torta pasqualina, or Eastertide torta, which is filled with either artichokes or Swiss chard (mixed with eggs, cheese, and herbs).” I am not sure that this was Nico’s take on the Ligurian torta, but it did seem to encompass many of the same ingredients.
Mancini Mezze Maniche pasta with smoked proscuitto, broccoli, percorino cheese, romesco sweet onion sauce. A word about Mancini pasta:
“Massimo Mancini is a man on a mission: making the finest dry pasta in the world, buoyed by the intense belief that it’s the small choices that make all the difference when it comes to true quality.” … “The Mancini farm has been producing fine pasta for 60 years. All the wheat is harvested from their own crops. Three kinds of durum wheat are mixed to create the unique flavour of Mancini pastas.”
“Just like his country’s top winemakers, Massimo knows that greatness requires meticulous execution of every phase of the production cycle. The results of his painstaking labor are stunning: in a double blind tasting of top-tier pastas, Pasta Mancini was the unanimous pick of our panel of five NYC chefs and journalists.”
Piero plans on selling the Manicini at Primi Al Mercato, the new casual restaurant plus take-out gourmet shop that he is opening at Santa Monica Place.
Red Wine from their list – we do not BYO at Vin Bar/Valentino given Piero’s extraordinary wine list
Chocolate Garganelli with Lobster Ragu (“Garganelli are hand rolled pasta shapes (similar to penne) and they’re usually made using a little board called a ‘pettine’ – comb”)
Quail Breast from Napa Valley on a bed of risotto with gorgonzola and radicchio with a red wine based jus – perfectly executed risotto with succulent juicy quail
Cheese Plate – I was getting lazy and didn’t write down any of the names of the cheese
Colomba Pasquale (“Easter Dove” in English “is an Easter counterpoint of the two well-known Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandora. The dough for the Colomba is made in a similar manner to panettone, with flour, eggs, sugar, natural yeast and butter; unlike panettone, it usually contains candied peel and no raisins. The dough is then fashioned into a dove shape (colomba in Italian) and finally is topped with pearl sugar and almonds before being baked.”
The Colomba Pasquale was served with a sabayon and Straub Chocolate Syrup Sauce.
The defintion of Colomba can be found here:
What a wonderful meal and I said to Piero as we were leaving, I could eat here every week.
See pics here: