LQ @ Starry Kitchen Starts June 5th
Laurent Quenioux's new pop up will start June 5th. Many of us Bistro LQ fans have been following this closely and no doubt have already made reservations (I already have). Those not familiar with Laurent Quenioux, well, I feel his cuisine was some of the best and most creative in LA when Bistro LQ was open. His new signature dish is: Teriyaki Rabbit Albondigas + Teriyaki Foie Gras.
LOCATION: Starry Kitchen is located @ 350 S. Grand Ave, Downtown LA
DATES: Jun 5-7, 13-14, 19, 20 (more dates to be added later)
TIME: 2 seating ranges available per night 1st – 6:30p-8:30pm / 2nd – 8:30pm-9:30pm
8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048
350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
For those who have gone: from blog posts and pictures, it appears the portion size is similar to most tasting menus - is this correct? I'm asking because I would LOVE to go here with my husband, but I know he will walk away disappointed if he feels he still needs to go to In-n-out afterwards. This was how he felt after a recent meal at Drago Centro (for comparison).
Was the meal in it's entirety one where you felt satiated? Or did you walk away a tad hungry, able to eat more?
525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Was at LQ @ SK last night. Outstanding meal.
Started with uni tapioca pudding and Carlsbad oyster cauliflower yuzu gelee. It was the outstanding dish of the evening. The contrasts were amazing, and the richness of the uni and pudding really started the meal off right.
Next was a skatewing w/ sujok and sumac. Tastes were spot on. The only nit I could pick was that the skate was a tiny bit unevenly cooked.
The declination of peas was another standout. The pea guacamole had a great onion/chile bite. The pea gazpacho was delicious. And the pea bacon ragu with foie had us asking for more bread to sop up every last drop of the delicious sauce (maybe not the classiest moment, but it had to be done).
The veal cheeks were perfectly cooked and delicious, but the prickly pear jell it was served with, though beautiful, didn’t add much in the flavor department (not that the dish needed much more flavor).
Dessert was also amazing, with a tonka bean bread pudding as the standout element.
Service was perfect. The owner of Starry Kitchen was working the front room as if it were a friendly party. He introduced us to Chef Quenioux as we were leaving. Easily the best fine dining deal in Los Angeles these days.
8009 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048
350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Thanks! It really was a remarkable meal. The cauliflower yuzu gelee with the oyster was so distinctive, I keep thinking about it. I have no idea how he created a clear jel that still strongly tasted of cauliflower. And who would have thought that the flavor of cauliflower went so well with oysters?
As for the portion sizes, the skate was larger than most items on tasting menus and was the most substantive portion-wise. Everything else is one or two bites. I left full, but your milage may vary.
I think tonight's menu was even better than the previous menu. The meal started off with a bang and probably my second favorite dish off the night. It was maki sushi but of course Laurent's crazy interpretation. Little neck clam, huitlacoche, epazote and sauerkraut wrapped with nori. The little neck clam and sauerkraut brought on the texture and acidity of sushi rice with the huitlacoche adding it's unique earthy taste, but ever so slightly. Nori was of course wilted from the sauce but otherwise a just a beautiful dish.
1st course brought back the veal feet which were even more tender since they were sous vide with a mustardy, capery thick sauce as well picked summer veggies under a great piquillo sauce.
2nd: scallops 2 ways
1) tartar with two beet sauces (golden and red) topped with a little dill. This was really delicate and refined. Never imagined the combination of scallop with dill would work so well.
2) sauteed scallop with vermouth demi glace under zucchini puree. GF liked this one better, but I thought it was a little fishy.
3rd: surf and turf: sauteed foie gras, roasted nectarine and dungeness crab with a jellied lemongrass consomme. This was a beautiful and brilliant dish. Each component was great but the combination put it on another level. Roasting the nectarine amplified the sweetness and added a "nutty, carmely" quality (dont' know how else to describe this) to the rich foie. But the kicker was the salty, sweet, oceany crab that completely changed the dish for me. Jellied lemongrass consomme added acidity as you liked to cut the rich foie and slowly melted into a consomme. Amazing layers of flavor. My favorite dish of the night.
4th: Lamb 3 ways
Loin: sweet pea puree with mint - perfect classic flavors
Kidney: rich chipotle sauce on top of mashed potatoes.
I've never had lamb kidney or lamb sweetbreads so it's hard for me to judge these dishes. Flavors were great and everything was obviously cooked and seasoned perfectly
5th: pandan panna cotta, grenadine, prickly pear seeds, cherry apricot sorbet. What a crazy and fun dish. Pandan panna cotta reminded me of tom kha soup. A great base to flavor with the smear of grenadine or prickly pear as you like. Cherry apricot sorbet was so refreshing and a tribute to the summer. The funniest part was when you took everything together it ended up reminding me of fruity pepples with milk! Especially the taste of cereal milk. I don't know if this was intended but I wouldn't be surprised.
Chef Laurent is definitely finding his pop up groove. Every dish was perfectly cooked, seasoned, and balanced. A surprising level of refinement with such high creativity.
He is a mad genius!
He also mentioned he would bring back his uni tapiocca dish for the second half of the pop up which I requested at the last visit. Excited!
A surprising level of refinement with such high creativity.
Exactly. The refinement with this level of creativity is unique and IMO what makes Chef LQ one of the top chefs in this city.
Great write up. I won't get a chance to go until the end of the month but I'm looking forward to it.
Full review and photos: http://twofoodiesonejourney.blogspot....
There is probably hardly anybody who wouldn’t agree that music, art, books or food are an important part of our life and that everybody is enjoying it in one way or the other. We all like to listen to music or read a book to relax, visit a museum or gallery to look at paintings or remember fondly certain dishes made by our parents when we were younger. But once you start asking different people what are their true favorite bands, artists or restaurants there will hardly be any agreement and everybody has their favorite band or restaurant often based on certain memories or connections they feel to them. Over the years we have visited many different restaurants and often came repeatedly back to some because we like them so much. But if anybody would ask us what was our favorite restaurant over the last 1-2 years our answer would be without doubt – Bistro LQ.
It is always hard to describe what makes for us a good dish to become special or a chef to stand out, but with Chef Laurent we felt from the very first visit at Bistro LQ a unique connection/resonance how he interprets food, creativity and execution which is very close to our idea of a perfect meal. Rooted in French cooking techniques and preparations he hasn’t limited himself to any style or country anymore and takes ingredients, flavors and conceptions from anywhere and combines them in his own, unique way. He constantly challenges common notions which flavors and ingredients shouldn’t work together and every dish tells its own story, and it is quite stimulating for us to try to come up with our own interpretation which is part of the appeal of Bistro LQ. And so it is no surprise that Bistro LQ became our second “living room” on our frequent trips to LA and that GM Eric Bouty even mentioned to us that we were among the most frequent guests of the restaurant. Unfortunately excellent cooking and good reviews don’t guarantee success especially if you are cooking far away from the mainstream in a style that might be better fitting with restaurants in San Francisco. This together with issues with the landlord led to the closing of Bistro LQ in March of this year – a very sad day for us.
After a very short time Chef Laurent appeared back on the culinary scene as Executive Chef at Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena, at collaborations with Chef Walter Manzke, and perhaps most interesting with a pop-up like concept LQ Fooding Around in LA at Starry Kitchen.
What appears at first as an odd combination is actual a nicely matching one. Not unlike Laurent Quenioux the owners of Starry Kitchen, Thi and Nguyen Tran, took an unconventional approach to realize their ideas. Starry Kitchen originally started in their Hollywood apartment in which they served home cooked meals. Once their home restaurant became too successful it got shut down by the health inspection for not having a commercial kitchen. Despite this setback they didn’t give up but decided in the beginning of 2010 to open their “official” restaurant in Downtown LA. Starry Kitchen serves lunch throughout the week but only dinner on Thursdays and Fridays, and so it was a perfect match to have a Bistro LQ pop up from Sundays to Wednesdays. And it was no question for us to visit LQ Fooding as soon as we had heard about it.
Starry Kitchen is located in downtown LA at the California Plaza
The restaurant has more a feel of a lunch place, but the team around Nguyen did a great job to make it a very welcoming and relaxing place for dinner as well.
Starry Kitchen has a partly open kitchen and you could see Chef Laurent and his staff busy at work.
A few items like the water glasses seemed to have come from Bistro LQ as well as their signature cucumber-lemon water.
The bread from Bread Lounge was perhaps the weakest part of the meal but good enough to sop up some of the sauces throughout the night. It was served with good olive oil instead of the more common butter.
Amuse Bouche: Sea snail, soy butter
French meals often start with escargots, but the whole dinner had Asian influences and so it was just fitting to serve a sea snail as a starter and accentuating it by pairing it with soy butter instead of garlic butter. The sea snail had a slight rubbery texture not unlike geoduck and tasted sweet and was faintly reminiscent of the ocean.
1st Course: Summer vegetables, hamachi, lemon miso curd, black sesame soil, yuzu kosho, herbs and sea weeds
The hamachi had an impressive marbeling and a smooth and buttery taste. At first the summer vegetables, like peas, corn, fava beans, seemed like an unusual pairing but with their natural sweetness and the tartness of the lemon miso curd and yuzu kosho the whole dish was perfectly balanced. The sea weed added an interesting textural crunch to the dish which reminded us of a spring dish.
2nd Course: Carlsbad oysters and mussels, kimchi sabayon, Chinese celery, cauliflower
Both the mussels and oysters were very tender and had a similar consistency as the cauliflower. The kimchi sabayon had a slightly sour flavor but also some hidden spicyness which kicked in after a short while. The fried Chinese celery leaves added an unexpected flavor which brightened up the dish.
3rd Course: Mu shu foie gras
Mu shu is a staple of Chinese restaurants in the US which are heavily Westernized. It often consists of shredded pork and vegetables wrapped in a pancake. In Laurent’s playful interpretation, the pork was replaced by a perfectly seared piece of foie gras. Foie gras is often paired with strong sweet or savory flavors to counterbalance its richness but in this dish the subtle flavors of the vegetables and the hoisin sauces created a nice balance so that the foie gras was always noticeable in every bite but it never overpowered the other ingredients. We easily could have eaten several of these wraps.
4th Course: Squab, veal feet, ginger cone boudin noir, mashed potatoes, apple
This dish featured two ingredients Chef Laurent used regularly at Bistro LQ – squab and boudin noir. The outstanding boudin noir was always a highlight and this was no exception. Served in a cone with mashed potatoes and apple puree it reminded us on dishes from Alsace. The squab which can easily be dry and tough was cooked perfectly. Both main ingredients were brought together by the veal feet which were small morsels of gelatinous meatiness.
5th Course: Rhubarb, hazelnut soil, curacao cubes, sour cream sorbet
Rhubarb has often a very tart flavor but here it was cooked until tender with spices like cardamom and was in itself already tasty. The sour cream sorbet mellowed the tartness even more and proved to be the right balance - a strong finish for the tasting menu.
Tasting menus at Bistro LQ always provided rollercoaster rides through the culinary world with its different flavors, and this pop up incarnation was no difference. You often read the menu and wonder how these flavors could work together but once you taste the dish it becomes clear and obvious and you wonder why nobody else might have thought about that before. It’s not very often that we have a tasting menu in which every single dish worked, and after every single course we talk about that we wish we could get a second portion. Before this event we were curious if a pop up of Bistro LQ would change anything how Chef Laurent would cook, but beside a bit more Asian influences than before, perhaps as an homage to his hosts, the pop-up concept was an extension of his regular Bistro LQ. The ambience and service was even more relaxed and laid back than before but was always professional and fitting for the occasion. It was interesting to see the energy of Nguyen while he talked with every guest and explained different dishes, and hopefully even once LQ Fooding around LA stops at Starry Kitchen Nguyen will continue do similar concepts in the future as he, his team and the location seem to be a good match for such events. He definitely made us curious to stop by at Starry Kitchen itself in the near future.
It was great to eat dishes from Chef Laurent after the painfully long break since March, and we realized how much we missed it that we seriously considered to ask for a place on the patio of the restaurant for the sold out second seating at that night to start the menu over once more. Not unlike as with your favorite band it’s nice to listen to a single to remind yourself why you like them but what you are really interested in is to be able to listen to a complete LP/CD to be able to really dive into the music. Restaurants are no different and pop up events are a welcoming “snack” but what we really hope for is to have the possibility to again taste full blown tasting menus with Chef Laurent, and it was great to hear from him after dinner in the kitchen that he is planning to open a restaurant in Pasadena. We can’t wait for that to happen and will be among his first guests !
Chef Laurent, and it was great to hear from him after dinner in the kitchen that he is planning to open a restaurant in Pasadena
Ouch. It's so far. I hope he did his market research. I don't know how supportive Pasadena will be of inventive cuisine and fine cheeses.
We went on June 14th and mostly liked it a lot. The service was impeccable and friendly, the price was right and some of the dishes were excellent.
We felt the real standouts were: the oysters and mussels dish - at first we didn't think the kimchi sabayon had any real flavor and then little notes of kimchi popped through and brightened everything up in a really nice way. The fried cauliflower with it added a welcome textural note. I loved the squab, veal feet, ginger cone boudin noir (which surprised me because I'm not a big fan of boudin noir.) Strangely though, it seemed like the squab was superfluous to the dish, just an add on to bulk it up. It was okay squab, nothing spectacular, but I'd have been happier with more of the rest of the dish and no squab. The sea snail amuse was plenty amusing. It was like chewing on a dense piece of rubber that had a remarkable flavor of the ocean somehow embedded in it. The soy butter perfectly complemented it.
We liked the summer vegetables, et al dish pretty well, but it was sort of bland, it needed something to heighten the flavors in our mouths.
We liked the foie gras but also thought it could have been seared a bit more. The pancake holding it was just that - it really did nothing for the dish other than work as a utensil. It had hoi sin sauce on it, which was sort of a nice idea but it needed to be tarted (literally) up a bit - maybe with a squirt of ponzu or lime or something. In all the dish was too rich and so kind of blended too much into the squab, veal feet etc dish after it.
We loved the dessert. It was fun, colorful and unusual flavors.
Overall we enjoyed it - the atmosphere and friendliness of the servers and the explanations of Nguyen particularly helped make it. It did seem like a sort of collection of dishes rather than a well thought out progression of dishes where each one plays off or in some way enhances (even by contrast sometimes) the one before or after it. Still, if he does it again, we'll be there.
Went last night and the visit does nothing but confirm that Chef LQ is cooking some of the most exciting food in town. Service was stellar. There was no corkage and due to our party size, we brought 4 bottles of wine (champage, Au Bon Climat pinot, 2004 Pontet Canet, and 2005 Rieussec). I asked if they could just leave the champage glasses and we'd use it later for the dessert wine. Nope. They whisked them away and gave us new glasses at the end for our dessert wines. Service was casual, but attentive, and spot on.
Bread was okay, olive oil was better.
Amuse of sea snails: okay. The muscle portion was nice and sweet but the end, organ portion less enjoyable
Hamachi with summer vegetables and lemon miso curd and herbs and black sesame "dirt". I thought this was a wonderful dish. The summer vegetables was basically a succotash of beans and corn covered by the delicious miso curd. The hamachi was the highest quality and the seaweed added a bit of tang which was wonderful. The tarragon left a very nice aftertaste. A playful vegetable surf and turf with the succotash and seaweed. I thought this was stellar. There was so much going on and it shouldn't work but it all does somehow. My second favorite of the night.
Carlsbad oysters and mussels with kimchee sabayon and cauliflower. It sounds unsual but as you eat it, you realize it tastes familiar and is a bit like...chowder. A high end chowder with the sabayon where the cauliflower were like potatoes but more flavorful. The fried chinese parsely leaf was a huge pop of flavor. Also an excellent dish
Mu Shu foie gras. I have never liked mu shu...until now. The foie was rich but balanced by the vegetables and the sauce which had a very pleasant anise/cinnamon flavor. Not sure that its just straight hoisin. Went well with the pinot. I thought the dish was excellent. I understand why others say it needed more sear. The foie was cooked perfectly but I understand the desire for a crunchy component. I liked it fine the way it was.
The squab, boudin noir cone, and veal feet was my favorite. I loved the squab and how rich and flavorful the meat was. It was actually an amazing squab preparation. The boudin noir cone confirmed that Chef LQ makes the best boudin noir around, so smooth and flavorful. The veal feet was tender simmered tendon. Tasted excellent when mixed in with the other components. Very nice with the bordeaux.
Dessert was a nice palate cleanser.
I thought 4 of the 6 dishes where excellent. This is a much higher proportion of excellent dishes than I've had at the 3 Ludo pop-ups that I've been to where it was more 30-50% successful and the rest just okay or weird.
Can't wait for his return in August.
Hi Porthos, thank you for posting this, that gave me and my wife the opportunity to try it last night. The link was what we had:
We liked eveything except for the Mu shu Foie Gras. Personally, if the Foie Gras was a seared a bit, it would have been more flavorful, too raw.
Tonight is the last night, LQ will be serving at Starry Kitchen before he will leave for a month for vacation. I look forward when he comes back in August.
The crew was on spot as far as serving everybody. The water was being filled without asking.
It was a good experience, for $45, no corkage, it was really a good deal.
Nguyen who is the owner was there to serve and explained the dishes, and direct the crew while LQ in the kitchen with 2 other chefs. It was a well run operation.
The 6 course-dinner took around 1:30 to 1:45 to finish.
By the way, kevineats was there last May and he had a different menu. To those of you who have never been to Starry kitchen, you can click the link below to see how the restaurant look. It is very casual and actually get loud when fully booked.
350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071