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Jul 28, 2013 11:58 PM

LQ @ Vertical Wine Bistro

Guess it's no longer called a pop up since it's at his regular restaurant. Someone mentioned it's as good as back in the Bistro LQ days. Amazing to think he was doing all those pop ups without a real kitchen most of the time.

Really enjoyed everything tonight. Food is creative but delicious and not just creative or crazy combination for the sake of creative or crazy combination.

Amuse: 2 XLBs. One with Okinawan sweet potato and one with skate and choriso. Server with a side of delicious crayfish emulsion. If he made gelee with that emulsion and put it inside the XLB, it may be one of the best XLBs in town.

1st course: fried oyster, shirasu! (Baby fish), and barely charred halibut sashimi over sushi rice. Impressive to see shirasu appear on a non Japanese menu.

2nd course: stuffed zucchini blossoms with summer truffles and cream. Such an elegant dish.

3rd Course: Smoked veal carpaccio, anchovy, black olive tapenade, fried capers, cauliflower hushpuppies. The light smoke on the veal was a great accent. And updated and refined version with classic flavors.

4th Course: pigeon on a bed of corn and bean succotash. Pigeon was cooked rare, has a great grilled taste with a flavor profile similar to jerked chicken. Outstanding. I noticed more than one person use their hands to get every bit of pigeon meat from the leg and wing portion.

Dessert: Creme yogurt cremeux, callisson ice cream, steussel crumble, candied walnuts, and white peach emulsion. Light, refreshing, and a perfect end to the wonderful meal.

$48 all in with $10 corkage.

Hard to find something this creative, this tasty, and at this price anywhere.

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  1. Great write-up. The presentation of the dishes are wonderful, and the price point is unassailable.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PeterCC

      Especially with their typically friendly corkage policy.

    2. You didn't have any problems with service? I was there last night (main dining area next to the kitchen), and there were some serious snafus. Long gaps between dishes, and several tables including ours were served the 4th course before the 3rd. So, Chef Laurent ended up "switching" the courses to adjust for the mistake.

      I've always found the service to be lacking, but I didn't make too much fuss about it because I always figured they don't do this all the time, so it's understandable to have hiccups. And, we've always felt that the quality and creativity of the dishes makes up for the poor service.

      The zucchini blossoms and the dessert were our two favorite dishes of the night.

      14 Replies
      1. re: yangster

        Service is always friendly but there was a long gap between course 2 and 3. Didn't get a switch in courses.

        Like you said, I don't mind the occasional lulls (which I think occur when the room is at capacity) since everything else is so good.

        1. re: yangster

          That service is sort of like the Babita model.

          1. re: yangster

            I always found that sporadic service gaps were the issue when he was in South Pasadena, as time is required to get some dishes out of the kitchen, and he is willing to take that time. Patrons are there for his cooking and take on food, so he wants to make sure that everything arrives as intended. Can't blame servers for that.
            Your favorites dishes would have probably been mine as well.

            1. re: carter

              It's not just what's going on in the kitchen that's the issue. I've seen the servers bring dishes to the wrong tables multiple times. The wait time after our 2nd course was 45 minutes, and that was well after we had flagged down a server and told him we were still waiting for our 3rd course. The result? We were served the 4th course that was taken away only to come back as a "switched" course. Multiple times, we noticed that the servers were confused as to what was going on.

              Still, I enjoyed every dish, and I intend to go back on Aug 11.

              1. re: yangster

                Menu is up for Aug 11.

                The minor tweeks look like it should be even better. Think spring rolls may work even better than bao and I would have liked to try the okra tempura. Dessert looks good too. Please report back!

                Mise en Bouche
                Spring roll, Crayfish, Chorizo, Okinawan Sweet Potato, Crayfish Emulsion

                1st Course
                Oyster Gelee, Kama-age Shirasu, Fresh Wasabi Curdle Egg Yolk, Aji Chiles Sushi Rice, Burnt Halibut, Fried Hama Hama Oyster

                2nd Course
                Stuffed Zuchini Blossoms, Summer Truffles, Herbs, Butter “Jacques Maximim” created them...

                3rd Course
                Smoked Veal Carpaccio, Anchovy & Black Olive Tapenade, Roasted Brioche, Fried Capers, Pickled Young Carrots, Red Okra Tempura, Minus 8

                4th Course
                Pigeon (Unilateral Cooking Method), Watercress Varnish, Corn & Shelling Beans Succotash

                Calisson Ice Cream, White Peach Cinnamon Espuma, Bacon Meringue, Smoked Blis Salmon Roe

                1. re: Porthos

                  Portos. You gonna hit that shit up again ?

                  1. re: kevin

                    kiven, going to Shanghailander that night instead.

                    1. re: Porthos

                      what's that ?

                      sounds like a pop-up too.

                  2. re: Porthos

                    Dessert was actually the same as last time...which wasn't a problem because we loved the cremeux/cherry gel/white peach combo. Plus, the thought of salmon roe in dessert was troubling (despite the genius of LQ). And the spring roll that replaced the XLB was a MUCH better vehicle for the crayfish and chorizo (pictures below).

                    I must say that the service was light years better this time around. The servers were conscious of asking diners how they were doing, and they did a much better job of getting dishes out in a timely fashion. My sister blames it on the Jay Z/Timberlake concert that was going on last time.

                    @kevin, Shanghailander is a pretty popular Shanghainese place in Hacienda (same shopping center as Little Sheep and Earthen). Not a pop-up.

                      1. re: yangster

                        Thanks for the report back and pictures!

                  3. re: carter

                    This is why Laurent's past restaurants have never succeeded.

                    A brilliant chef does not necessarily make for a great restaurateur. He needs someone in the FOH that will take him by the balls and tell him that sometimes service is just as important as the food, if not more so.

                2. Nice write-up, thanks for the report.

                  1. That sounds like a downight bargain.

                    Usually these tasting menus, or rather price-fixes start up at about 75 bucks per, and then go on up from there.

                    1. A great meal indeed, though not as wild as I've seen him go in the past. The hush puppy didn't make sense to me and the xlb skins were dry on top. There was indeed varying gaps between some courses: some too quick and some very long. It's kinda expected if you've dined with him often.