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Apr 27, 2012 08:45 PM

Spago Review

We thoroughly enjoyed the tasting menu on our recent trip to Spago, to celebrate a special occasion. We made the request for the tasting menu at the time we made the reservation.

We parked in the public parking lot a block from the restaurant, since I prefer to self park rather than hand my car keys to a stranger, for valet parking, whenever I can.

We were quickly seated, our server asked about food allergies, and then the decadence began. We were served a series of 6 Amuses, all wonderful. The Amuse with the most “wow” factor was a squid ink cracker, which looked like a small polished stone, filled with sturgeon mousse and then topped with caviar. This was arranged in a box with seashells and herbs mimicking seaweed. It was a vignette of the seashore at low tide.

After the Amuses, a bread tray was presented with about 6 different selections. I chose a couple, and they were delish. A server with a bread tray returned later in the meal to offer a refill. It was hard to maintain restraint on the bread, it was so good! I kept some bread on hand to sop up sauces from the plates.

The first course was a palette cleanser of cucumber sorbet, of which the server poured a savory tea over. This was a pleasant combo of flavors. Next was a cheese soufflé in a pool of mushroom soup. The soufflé had the texture of a cloud and the soup had a pleasantly intense mushroom flavor. Next, Thai infused Santa Barbara spot prawns, sweet and perfectly done. Crusted Loup de Mer was next. A delicate fleshed fish served with a crunchy crust and accompanied by a cute squid ink sausage that looked like a black olive along with a sweet bite of lobster. Agnolotti followed. While very good, this was the weakest dish of the night. The sweet pea flavor rang out, but the dish lacked the complexity of the others. Next up was duck breast, cooked to a perfect pink and with a delicious jus. The last entrée was American Kobe beef. This had some of the tiniest brussels sprouts I have ever seen, and sauce worthy of sopping up to the last drop with the bread.

The cheese course followed. I’m not big on cheese courses, but the 3 cheeses served were quite good - a creamy cheese blend from Italy, a hard aged Gouda, and an Oregon blue. They were served with thinly sliced walnut bread, honey and a fruit puree.

The first dessert was a warm rhubarb cobbler with oranges and maybe another fruit, served with a very vanilla ice cream. The last dish of the night was a “Chocolate Bar”. I was well into happy food overload at this point, so my now spotty memory of this dessert is dark chocolate bottom layered with a lighter chocolate, a bit denser than mousse, topped with caramel corn and tiny crunchy chocolate balls, and accompanied with chocolate sorbet.

Service was attentive without being obtrusive. Our water glasses were kept filled. The dishes were well described by wait staff as they were set in front of us. Part way through the meal we asked if we could have a list of our tasting menu, and this was brought to us after the check, which came to $145pp, before tax and tip, food only. There is a 20% service charge applied, which I do not begrudge one bit. Service was excellent.

It was good to walk the one block to our car after the meal, in fact it probably would have been better for me to jog a couple miles, to work off some of the calories. What a wonderful meal!

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  1. Lovely report. Thanks for posting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: maudies5

      I concur too. Great report. And glad you liked it. I still feel that Spagos is the best tasting menu in tOwn.

    2. It has been quite some time that we have been back to Spago. This was not due to not loving the restaurant; it was just a matter of scheduling and not making the time. What a mistake that we waited so long! There is a new Chef de Cuisine, Tetsu Yahagi who is absolutely fabulous. “Now as Chef de Cuisine at Spago Beverly Hills, Tetsu comes full circle. It is a dream realized. In his new role Chef Tetsu’s mission is to keep the history and tradition of Spago Beverly Hills vibrant; bringing his Japanese influence and sense of refinement to the cuisine. He uses Farmers Market ingredients to create exciting new menu selections. Under his elegant hand there is no doubt the legacy will continue.”

      See his full bio here:

      First let me state that the patio at Spago is a lovely place to have a leisurely lunch on a Saturday afternoon – it is peaceful, relaxing and the service is A++ under the expert guidance of Assistant GM Laurent. We basically said to Laurent you decide what we will eat and that was the only decision we made.

      Spicy Tuna Tartar in a Sesame Tuile – a signature dish that is delicious

      Hamachi Ceviche with Grapefruit

      Sturgeon Mousse in a squid-ink crust, topped with oscetra caviar – this is a new creation of Chef Yahagi and was off the charts fabulous plus beautifully plated

      Sauteed Kusshi Oyster with Madras Curry Aioli, Mango Chutney, Cilantro Flower – another new creation from Chef Yahagi and another winner. The aioli was so good that we mopped the sauce with our fingers.

      House-smoked Salmon with Dill Creme Fraiche, Salmon Eggs on a Corn Blini – a signature Spago dish executed perfectly
      Bacon Confit en Croute – another signature dish

      Sauteed French White Asparagus, Ragout of Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Crawfish, Fava Beans, Orange Segments, Orange-scented Bearnaise Sauce – This just shouted seasonality and was executed with finesse.

      Rye Crusted Loup de Mer, Mussels, Squid Ink Sausage, Sweet Peas, Shellfish and Chorizo Broth – another winning combination of flavors with perfect execution

      Sweet Pea Agnolotti – the pasta was cooked beautifully and the peas were a lovely nod to Spring.

      Tenderloin and Loin of Lamb, Cumin-scented puree, Young Baby Carrots, Pearl Onions, Baked Shoestring Potatoes, Natural Jus with Black Olives – enough to say we ate every bit!

      Now I am known to steal ideas from chefs I admire and I was very intrigued with the presentation of the potatoes. First that they were baked not fried and the round cylindrical shape made for a wonderful presentation. The potatoes are cut shoestring on a mandoline and then wrapped around a parchment covered aluminum tube.

      Cheese Plate – 24 month Gouda, Midnight Moon (Sheep’s milk from Corsica), Latour (Sheep, Goat and Cow’s milk cheese) , Road River Blue from Oregon with a Mostarda of Figs and Nuts, Orange Honey

      What a perfect afternoon of incredible food and stupendous service!!!! I can’t wait to go back.

      Pics here:

      6 Replies
      1. re: lizziee

        What was the bill per person for this lunch tasting menu?

        1. re: kevin

          Kevin, I don't know. My husband paid it!

          1. re: lizziee

            Last time I had it (a few years ago) it was 90/person.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              It was probably more than a few years ago for me.

              And I think it was 100 or more probably 120 per for the dinner tasting menu.

              And it was exceptional. That was right up to when Puck still doled put the foie gras with a foie gras mousse in kumquats in a pastry shell and langoustines in a Thai chili sauce and a rack of rabbit.

              Most likely te tiniest rack I have ever seen.

              Supremely delicious.

        2. re: lizziee

          lizziee- I'm curious if you requested the tasting menu at the time of reservation like noodlie?

          1. re: LATrapp

            No, I didn't request it, but we have eaten there often and they know that is what we like to do.