2012 RESTAURANT SEDER VERDICTS; ADD YOUR EXPERIENCES!
Again this 2012 year, the family attended the Seders at JAR and SPAGO. The fist night's Seder at JAR confirmed our feelings that the Seder lacked much of any tradition. For the second year in a row, the scattered woman who led the event forgot to call on me when she had earlier assigned me parts in the Haggadah! The same lovely Gospel Soloist sang some songs. Appetizers included Chopped Liver on Homemade Matzah, a Pea Shoot Puree' with Mint & Feta on the same Matzah, and absolutely scrumptious crispy rafts of grated Potato topped with a dollop of Cream Fraich and House Cured Gravad Lax. I wish I could have made a meal of the later two items. Next came a Chicken Soup with the requisite Matzah Balls, and a nice addition of Lemongrass & a few slivers of Shitake Mushroom. There was also a Composed Salad of Asparagus & a few al dente Vegetables in a nice Vinaigrette. The entree' was a choice of fish or Chef Suzanne Tracht's signature Pot Roast. Everyone in our group ordered the Pot Roast. It was a bit too saline, but delicious & meltingly tender nevertheless. On the side was a surprising redundancy; a Gravy Boat of Creamed Horseradish, and Creamy Mashed Potatos that were seasoned with Creamed Horseradish. I like Horseradish, but enough is enough! One had a choice of a White Wine, a Red Selection, or a Sparkling Proseco. Desert included a plate of mini desserts; something dense & Chocolaty, a Lemon Cheesecake that was very Eggy-Tasting, and a couple of other choices I don't recall. This is the only restaurant that, thus far, has offered a first night Seder. I hope that others realize that competition is not stiff for the first night, & they offer a first night Seder for 2013! SPAGO is a bit pricier, also good food, and a lot more organized while including just enough tradition to make it feel like a true Seder. Each year, it is presided over by Barbara Lazaroff, who does a lovely job. At this Seder, there are no appetizers. The seating is in rows of long tables, mostly in a main room. A Rabbi from the University Synagogue does some of the Liturgy, and the L.A. Children's Chorus always performs a few songs. The meal began with petite Gefilte Fish Balls seemingly steamed in Cabbage Leaves. These had a dollop of Horseradish on top. The Kenaidlach Soup was traditional and good, albeit a bit too saline. The entree' for everyone was the same; A small bit of Boneless Beef Short-rib in a dark Port & Cherry Reduction Sauce and a slice of poached Salmon plainly made with a bit of Almondine. There was a small pool of pureed Yam or Sweet Squash to the side. Also, small serving dishes of delicious Chopped Liver came around. Neither restaurant made a particularly interesting or different spin on their Haroset. The Matzah at JAR was plain, but good. The Matzah from Wolfgang Puck was pretty addictive, served warm with minced chewy onions, garlic, and a green herb baked on top. The desserts at Spago were also minis served off communal platters. These included several Chocolate options, Macarons that were too soft but had a nice, intense Pistachio Filling, & traditional Coconut Macaroons. All desserts were pretty good, with the Chocolate Truffles and Chocolate Cake topped with a Candied Kumquat being the tastiest. I was quite surprised that Coffee and Tea were not served with the dessert. For now, our plans are to probably return to Spago next year or try Akasha or Street. Does anyone know about how much tradition is brought into those two Seders? What we are greatly hoping is that Koutoubia will offer a first night &/or a second night's Seder next Year, because that seems as if it must have been delectable & fun. I recall that Marcel (the proprietor?) said that it was being led by someone from a Conservative Temple, so I assume there is some semblance of tradition. I am asking, please, for anyone who attended this year's Street, Akasha, any other, or especially Koutoubia's Seder can please share the juicy details including amount of tradition & menu reviews! - Many Thanks, JET