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Dec 29, 2010 09:21 PM

Red Medicine - is the food any good?

There have been a zillion posts about the fact that RM outed and refused to serve the LA Times restaurant critic Irene Virbila, but essentially nothing about the food that RM serves. If their food is truly wonderful, I can't imagine why they would be afraid of being reviewed. If anyone has eaten there, could you please let us know what you thought of the food. Please let this chain be about the, service and ambiance...and not about IV!

Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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      1. re: Discokill

        We ate at Red Medicine on December 18, before Irene Virbilla visited.
        We arrived on a rainy friday night, the restaurant was full and our table for two was waiiting. We were quickly seated and a waitress and what I later learned was a manager ( Mr. Ellis)came over to review the menu with us and to discuss how to order. We were very impressed with the kindness of the wait staff, their commitment and investment in the food and their personal interest in our having a great eating experience. We tried many many things on the menu and found it to be unique, delicious, tasty and fun. The food was spiced perfectly, the combinations interesting and the portions appropriate for two people who were basically grazing through the whole menu. We ordered the desserts and found them too to be unusual and just yummie. As soon as we left the restaurant we contacted our adult children and foodie friends and told them this was a place they had to try. Our only complaint was the noise was hard on our Led Zeppelin burned our ears... what else is new at bustling hip restaurants that have an active bar crowd as well? We asked if there was dinner Sunday night and were told not yet but you could get food on Sundays at the bar. We liked it so much that we even told Mr Ellis ( who I subsequently learned was the person who all the brew haha was about when he asked Irene to leave) what a great place he had , I assumed he was the manager, I do not know him, and how much we appreciated new places in Los Angeles taking a shot at it in this difficult economy. Don't know what went on between him and Irene, but to us he was charming, friendly, helpful and clearly all over the restaurant trying to make a new place work. Hope you will all give this place a chance, the food is fantastic, honestly.

        Red Medicine
        8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

        1. re: Discokill

          I went there very early, and while the cocktails were pretty amusing, the service was sloppy, the pork chaud-froid was okay, the foie gras banh minh was great, and the place was cold and very noisy.

          1. re: Ideefixed

            In answer to the question is the food any good?, my answer is who cares! I have never publicly contributed my opinion before about any restaurant I have ever eaten at, and there are many. I would say that I eat dinner out an average of 3-4 times a week. I make a point of trying new restaurants wherever I am, and I appreciate all cuisines and types of food as long as they are well prepared, but last night's dining experience was perhaps the worst I have ever had. The decibel level was excruciating which made the food experience almost irrelevant. I went with my husband and from the moment we were seated all we wanted to do was leave (and in retrospect that would have been the wiser choice). It was like eating in a dive bar/club instead of a restaurant. I have eaten in many restaurants that people consider noisy, including Rustic Canyon and Animal to name two, but never anything like this. My husband and I were seated at a small table for 2 and we had to shout at each other to hear each other. The food was just OK-a bit on the sweet side for me and in my opinion some of the dishes had too many ingredients that muddied their flavors, but it wasn't bad and the prices were reasonable. The service was attentive and efficient. But honestly, even if I had been served the most delicious dinner of my life, I would not have been able to enjoy it. The best moment of the evening was when we closed the door behind us and retreated into the cold QUIET night.

        2. I have been twice with groups of 5 and 8, so I tried ALOT.
          Since I also drank ALOT, I don't remember ALOT (of details) but a few general impressions.

          The bar makes creative and tasty cocktails but they are rather small.

          I'm not a fusion fan, which I find is often a fusion of overly sweet sauces -- that was my experience with many , but not all, RM dishes.

          I thought about 1/3 the stuff we had the first time was good, especially the "large format" Banh Mi, available only in the bar. Liked the fluke dish

          About 1/2 was good the second time.

          Clear improvement.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ciao Bob

            I completely agree with Ciao Bob on the fusion issue -- came here with pretty high expectations, and we were sorely disappointed. Brussels sprouts were rich and tasty, but overpoweringly salty -- three bites in, we didn't want any more, but we still had three quarters of the dish left. Then the egg, which was the best of the dishes but also too salty and heavily sauced... and it went downhill from there: the rice paper with shrimp was bland, the chicken was so sweet it tasted like it had been dunked in a vat of sugar, and the squid tasted so strongly of anise that it overpowered everything we'd eaten before. Basically, aside from the rice paper, everything was overly sauced and salted, to the point that this was really one of the worst meals we've had in a long, long time... At least the service was nice...

            Red Medicine
            8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

          2. Went for lunch on Monday and I thought the food was pretty good. Definitely worth a try. Desserts are a must!

            1. A last-minute trip to LA allowed us to visit Red Medicine this weekend. Overall, really liked it and it's one of the more interesting restaurants in the city right now. I would return in a heartbeat, but I imagine that if you don't like mixing your salty/sweet, this will not be your type of place. I personally wish more places would smash that imaginary wall between savory and sweet courses. The dishes we had are below.

              You can find pics here:

              Pork chaud-froid
              Crispy chicken skin, lychee, clove, pistachio, spicy herbs
              This dish was very well executed, although the pork was prepared more in the form of rillettes, with very little of the gelatinous aspic-y nature that the term chaud-froid brings to mind. The meat was topped with salted crispy chicken skin, which provided some nice crunch. Lychee segments brought a pronounced element of sweetness - a theme we would see repeated in every dish we ate that evening. I also enjoyed the Thai basil that was doused in fish sauce, although I suppose some would find this overbearing. My only wish was for the cloves to come forward a little more.

              Green papaya
              Pickled roots, crispy taro, tree nuts, nuoc cham
              A very nice interpretation of green papaya salad, and visually beautiful as well. The nuoc cham sauce was nicely balanced between sweet, sour and salty (I often find various versions of it skewing too far towards the sweet end of the spectrum) - there was a little tussle as everyone at the table fought to get spoonfuls of it.

              Beef tartare
              Water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanuts
              One of the most intriguing preparations of raw beef I've had in recent memory. I'm unsure of the composition of the chlorophyll sauce (green streak in the foreground), but it was nicely spicy, like it had been spiked with bird's eye chilis. This went really well with the coarsely chopped beef. The water lettuce added a bit more of a vegetal aspect, and the crunchy water chestnut discs were excellent palate cleansers. The weakest component was the nuoc leo (powdered, presumably with maltodextrin) - it was relatively tasteless and it's texture didn't work for me in the context of the dish.

              Lamb belly
              Hoisin, hibiscus-onion, salsify, sunflower seeds, lady apple
              Rather crassly prepared, with most of the flavours being dominated by the hoisin, but it was still damn tasty. The soft lamb belly was remarkably gamey, a move I applaud. There was a little too much salsify in comparison to the other components, but this was an easily amended issue. Together, the hoisin, onion and apple discs made this a very sweet savory course. I imagine this dish is quite a crowd-pleaser, what with lamb belly being in vogue these days.

              Crispy pork neck, charred frisee
              Egg, rose marmalade, dried banana
              The dehydrated banana was a very nice touch, balancing the saltiness of the fried pork. Otherwise, a relatively ordinary dish - pork, mustard seeds, runny egg and greens. Another sure-fire favourite, but conceptually the weakest dish.

              Ocean trout, grapefruit, burnt chili, icicle radish
              The ocean trout was cured in sugar cane, and also served with some delectable trout roe. While I liked the idea of the dish, it ended up being a little too sweet - I think it has the potential to be great after a little tinkering with the balance.

              Sword fin squid
              Onion soubise, carrots, salted black bean, elderflower
              Very, very good - I wish we had ordered another serving of this. A big recovery after the relative disappointment of the previous two dishes. The squid was perfectly cooked, and were complemented perfectly by the crunchy puffed rice and soft caramelized carrots. The onion soubise added a nice depth of flavour, which was enhanced and contrasted by the pungent black bean sauce. Sprigs of elderflower added a nice herbal touch. With relatively few components, this was a much more edited dish than the all the courses prior to this, and the better for it. Excellent balance throughout.

              Duck, caramelized endive
              Banana, toasted grains, brown butter, five-spice
              The duck was cooked sous-vide, and flash-fried to crisp it up. A bit of a head-scratcher - how does one let a piece of duck get so damn chewy? Putting that conundrum aside, I loved the flavours in the rest of the dish (the duck itself was also well-seasoned, just tough as all hell). In particular, the endive was brilliantly roasted (simple but important). Here again, the combination of bananas, brown butter and five-spice were evocative of dessert.

              Bitter chocolate
              Kecap manis, oats, parsnip, brown butter, soy milk sorbet
              Finally, dessert proper, except the kecap manis brought in a refreshing element of savoriness this time. This, together with the parsnip and brown butter, echoed flavours from the previous dish but turned them upside-down - a fortuitous progression of courses. I was quite enamored by the soy milk sorbet, which asserted itself unabashedly. It played very nicely with the dark chocolate, and the whole dish was a great demonstration of Kahn's talent.

              Coconut bavarois
              Coffee, condensed milk, Thai basil, peanut, chicory
              Our second dessert was more than equal to the first. The rich coconut cream could have been overwhelming, were it not balanced by the coffee crumbles and chicory. The peanut croquant kept the dish alive with its crunchy texture and saltiness, and the Thai basil added notes of spice and licorice to further counter the sweetness of the coconut and condensed milk. What could've been a disaster in less delicate hands was masterfully done here.

              Red Medicine
              8400 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211