OMG Food!

Soup's on, folks! I'm Tina M. Courtney, aka PoetKitty -- a Los Angeles based food writer audacious enough to think I can critique all manner of eateries. It's a labor of love, and I'm honored to welcome you. Grab a fork and let's get this party started.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

PK Goes to Paris: I Want to Die At L'Atelier

Joel Robuchon's L'Atelier
Hôtel Pont Royal
5, rue de Montalembert
75007 Paris, France

I'm going to skip my usual pomp and circumstance ala un review and just go straight to the edibles.
L'Atelier is everything foodies dream of. Yes, there's one in Vegas too. No, it's NOT the same. Get thee to Paris.


Loads of choices in the cutest basket you ever did spy. Shockingly served with a heaping pile o' buttah.


We had champagne to start, and an absolutely OMG worthy white that I don't remember a damn thing about, label wise, and only recall wanting to cry. The wine list here is scary-good, but since I don't speak-a-the-language, I trusted the nice sommelier (which I believe they called a Wine Man because we are stupid Americans, heehee).

Amuse Bouche:

Foie Gras in a Port Wine Reduction with Parmesan Foam
-- I'm sorry, do we have to eat other courses? I could bathe in this, people. I sopped up every last droplet and swooned myself into a frenzy. Parmesan Foam + Foie Gras = sex in a goblet. Add the sweetness of the Port Wine and seriously, I felt tingles.

Course One:

Gazpacho with Aged Balsamic, Olive Oil, and Croutons
- This was companion Todd's favorito of the night. Just the most fresh, popping, lovely gazpacho you ever did taste, and that balsamic must have been old as dirt and five billion times as tasty. Plus, those delightful little croutons were buttery, melting little gems. Awesome dish.

Course Two:

Lobster Carpaccio with Diced Olives, Parsley, Olive Oil, Lime and a Light Sauce
- They had been parading around a lovely blue lobster all evening, and I do hope he didn't die for us, but if he did - I pledge eternal devotion and hope he's a guardian angel now, forgiving me all over the place. I loved the light, raw flavors, especially after the one-two punch of rich goodness that preceeded. The herbs were fresh-picked, and the olives added the perfect salty edge.

Course Three:

Trio of Clams topped with Butter, White Wine, Garlic, and Parsley, served on a bed of Rock Salt
- These were lovely, but too small for my liking. Really fantastic flavors but not enough surface area to really indulge. Quantity doesn't mean quality, obviously, but I couldn't get my tongue around these delicacies.

Course Four:

Cocktail of Chanterelles, Mushroom Foam, Parsley, and Fresh Cream
- Gaaaaaahhhh, this is *so* my new favorite cocktail, which is exactly what the server proclaimed it would be as it swooped it down before me. Rich delights are what French food is most known for, and this knocked my knickers into the next galaxy. Loved it so - maybe not quite as much as the foie gras amuse magic, but those chanterelles could woo me any day.

Course Five:

Smoked Salmon with Fresh Cucumbers, Spices, and Parsley
- I'm gonna have to go with No. Only because I'm not a fan of smoked salmon. Now, this wasn't overly smoky (read: nasty), and I did very much enjoy the cucs + curry-like spices, but it wasn't nearly as flavorful as the others and ranked as my least favorite. Sorry, salmon, you get an D.

Course Six:
* We had a choice of two mains, and Todd and I covered both bases. We're good like that.


Lamb with Cumin, Rosemary, Almonds, and a Vegetable Couscous
- When lamb has the tenderness of chocolate cake, you have a winner. I've never had more perfectly cooked couscous, and the melange of spices were divine. Not too overpowering, with a gorgeous essence and a smoky finish.


Veal Sweetbreads with a Rich, Buttery Sauce and Herbs
- I cannot believe organ meat can taste so heavenly! These little honeys were just illegal. Crunchy soft, sweet and buttery, it's about as good as gets for any protein. This is such a difficult ingredient to highlight and render mouthwatering, so this dish left me in awe.

Side of Potato Puree

- Mr. Robuchon is famous for these luscious tators, and I absolutely had to find out why. Ho. My. Gawd. There was more butter than tuber, and honey, I like that just fine. The texture felt like a silk sheet, but tasted like foie gras. Amazing. My chair neighbor commented on his clogging arteries, but if you're gonna go out, this is the way.

Course Seven/Dessert One:

Lychee, Grapefruit, Pomegranates, and other Assorted Fruit
- This didn't excite me when it landed. I figured it would be a little palate cleanser, as preperation for the real dessert. The incredibly bold, fresh fruity flavors, however, absolutely knocked my socks off. There was a perfect mixture of sweet and acidity, with an amazingly soft texture and finish. Todd and I ranked this as one of the best of the eve, because it was spectular, and because we didn't expect it to impress in the slightest. I do love a good surprise.

Course Eight/Dessert Two:

Chocolate Mousse with Wheat Crispies, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, and Cookie Crumbs
- It may not be the best idea to end such a decadent meal with a ridiculously rich chocolate delight, but what the hell, when in Rome, right? The unexpected cruch of the crispies and the authentic vanilla flavors were marvelous. No shock here - Joel knows mousse. I think they might be related.

Damage for 2 glasses of champagne, 1 bottle of wine, and 2 tasting menus + 2 sides of potato puree omakase - 331 Euros, or about $400.
Steepity steep steep, but zilcho regrets.

Me and Darling Todd, about to explode, but happy all the same

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Vermont - Please Don't Serve Abnormal Salads

Vermont Restaurant and Bar
1714 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
11/21/06 - 12:30 PM

The Event: Favorite Lunch Friend and I needed a nosh spot. Something Los Feliz-y. Something chic yet tasty.


Ambiance - C+
Service - C+
Food (Taste) - C
Food (Presentation) - C-
Wine/Drinks - C+
Value - C+
Vibe/Energy/Scene - C+

Overall Experience - C+

Vermont has been lingering on a nondescript corner of Vermont Ave. for years now, a popular French-y spot for business lunches, cocktails, and slightly upscale eats. I first took a turn here some five years ago, and from what I recall, I enjoyed the dinner. This was before I proudly wore the Foodie hat, however, so judge accordingly.

I like the minimalist, white-washed decor. I don't love the gargantuan plant that quite literally knocked me in the noggin as I walked through the front door. The hostess station is located to your immediate right as you walk in, and there's zero room for guests to linger. Since I was in a long-ish line, I had to stand outside, lest I continue to be assualted by the angry plant.

We were seated quickly, and the place was already jumping. Our server was a nice woman, but clearly and utterly frazzled. She took good care, considering, but this provided a rushed and unsettling energy. No big deal. We ordered super fast and awaited the dishes, which arrived in a similar turbo speed.


Sodas. Didn't spy the wine list.


(Photo above)
Calamari Salad
With greens, fried calamari, tangy dressing, tomatoes, and lemon wedges
- Truly one of the strangest and unappealing salads I've ever laid eyes on. The frisee/greens had a weed-like consistency, and similar flavor. There was a lot of tender calamari, but the little squid bites were way too greasy. Couple that with a tangy cocktail sauce dressing, and you have a world of ewwww. I wouldn't just avoid ordering this again, I would run like the dickens if it even came near me.

Linguini with Clams
- Linguini with a butter and herb sauce, served with a mound of clams
A very standard dish, and not overly fresh. The sauce had little flavor, but the clams were pretty tasty. Better than my evil salad, but nothing to brag about.

Damage for 2 sodas and 2 entrees: about $31 before tip.

Parking: Valet in back, but street slots available
Attire: Business casual
Pros: Nice decor, friendly
Cons: Not worth the price, rushed service, out-for-blood plant

Final word - you can do better in the area by a landslide.

My Other Home.
With a Side of Poetry.