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Fifty Seven- a couple thoughts

Got to go to Fifty Seven the other day- here's a couple quick thoughts slightly in order on what I think is going to be an exciting idea:

-Wine list is EXCITING! Somm Max Coane is to be commended. all kinds of price points available, by-the-glass options are strong and well priced.

-"Salmon Tartine"
somebody remind me to buy salmon roe and creme fraiche next time I cure some salmon. bread is delicious, too. fairly pricey for one-slice-of-bread size... note to self- look up what a "tartine" actually is.

-"La Tur"
is this cheese foam? cheese mousse? I'm assuming La Tur is the name of the cheese. would be a really funky cheese but the foam/mousse presentation tempers the funk. nice touch with the radicchio cups and apple slices to scoop it up. they should serve this with a spoon...

-"Pickled Garden"
I, an unabashed carnivore, love this. makes me want to go to the farmer's market and then start pickling everything. dunno how "sour cream sauce" is supposed to "cut through the acidity" but it tastes good with the pickles...

-"Pork Belly"
ordered it just to know what a mandarinquat tastes like. turns out, exactly like it sounds. belly is done well but I'm a bit pork belly'd out these days...

-"Heritage Pork Chop"
funny there's no beef dish on the entree menu. huh, not one on the apps, either... this is literally the best pork chop I've had in LA, though. huge, juicy, full of flavor. totally forgot about the lack of steak after the first bite.

I would say this is about to be one of the heaviest places in my rotation except we are about to touch on the major wild card with this place- their "chef-in-residence" David Nayfeld's stint is up this week. The key here is how the transition to the next "CiR" is handled/executed and I think the whole success of the concept hangs on that. I'd say my first dinner here was wildly successful, so much so that I'm headed back in a week to try Josh Drew's take on the kitchen... I hope it's as good as the first time!

I'm also wondering how much changes with each chef switcheroo- does the kitchen staff changes? the plates? the cocktails and wine? Is it possible to love a restaurant that is a different iteration of itself on each visit? TBD I guess...

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  1. I am not sure how 57 does it but it did remind me that, in the late '80s there was a restaurant in Santa Monica (owned by, among others, Mauro Vincenti) called Fennel whose gimmick was having four top French chefs [Michel Rostang, Michel Chabran, Yann Jacquot and Andre Genin) rotating through the kitchen for stints of varying lengths. The core kitchen staff there remained the same for all four chefs, with Jean-Pierre Bosc as the anchor, though I seem to recall that they each also brought specialists with them for their turns behind the stoves. It lasted only about three years before closing, later giving way to Zenzero (opening chef Kazuto Matsusaka) and is now Ivy at the Shore.

    1. Well, I'm usually pretty aware but I had to look it up:

      Fifty Seven is just below E. 7th on Santa Fe downtown.

      1. It's like a Mini-Me Next.

        1. Thanks for the report. Are they doing month long chef's in residence? How easy was it to get a table?

          Do report back with the Josh Drew dinner.

          1 Reply
          1. re: set0312

            according to the staff, the chefs are there for 3 months stints, give or take.
            I got a table both times fairly easily...

          2. I posted my thoughts a few weeks ago and also was very impressed. I'm glad to read your thoughts on the pork chop, because I mentioned that the members of my party who had the pork chop thought it a bit bland -- but they also were not regular pork eaters. I thought it was quite good. It's also funny that you noted the lack of a beef entree, because it was something we thought was quite unusual. I didn't mention the wine list, but your comments are well taken. Nice variety and a lot of different price points.

            I'll be interested to see how the food changes under the new chef, and also what David Nayfield does next, since he said he was trying to sew up investors for a venture in LA.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jwsel

              Thanks! Personally I loved the pork, but it was fairly mild, save for what I could only describe as a "heritage" (i.e., quality) flavor. For all the world I am convinced they roast the pork whole to temp then cut off slices, a la prime rib, but I could be wrong.
              I'm excited to go back and try the new menu this week.

            2. Are you comparing the pork chop to all the big ones in LA, i.e. Salt's Cure, Sotto, & Chi Spacca?

              Even Kevineats, who rarely says anything bad about anything it seems like, said he wished the pork chop had more char to it and felt it was a bit on the bland side.

              It looks interesting enough in photos though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BacoMan

                You know I read that too. I get the idea of wanting more of a grilled chop, however this was more about having a slab of heritage pork "prime rib" than anything... and that's the best comparison I could make to it.

              2. Tried the new menu from new "chef in residence" Josh Drew. All in all I think this one is a bit more... realized... that the previous incarnation. A lot more options, though I can't quite say I saw a theme other than "name every farm you use". Once again the killer wine list was my friend, especially in the $100 bottle of excellent Burgundy that matched our meal.
                -Parker House rolls topped with uni and sweet pickled chiles (awesome idea. I could eat quite a bit of these)
                -oysters, both raw and baked Rockefeller-esque (these were very good but then again it's hard to F up some perfectly fresh oysters)
                -Local squid braised in ink (this was the best thing! rich, with a crunch from puffed buckwheat and topped with an amazing green garlic aioli)
                -100 day aged Ribeye (this may have been our only misstep- the aged flavor was perfect but the cut was very tough. Is aged beef generally tough? For the $60 per person price I expected butter-soft beef...)

                All in all the meal was amazing despite a couple missteps that I could write off as the restaurant was literally full to capacity (two of our dishes did not arrive, some finished plates sat at the table for some time). I will definitely be back to try more of the new menu- abalone crudo? Pork loin-belly-jowl entree? OK, sure!