Having been a fan of the always popular, always spot on, farm fresh brunch at Blu Jam, I was very excited when Kamil went from his occasional dinner service to a dedicated Wed-Sun dinner service. The SO and I went this evening (made even more enticing by free corkage through the month of March 2011. Although Kamil's wine list looks like a lot of fun and well considered for when the special ends.)
It's a "small" plates menu, but 5 dishes was more than enough for 2 hearty eaters and we were also treated to a couple of extra surprises from the generous and passionate staff who love the food they make and it shows!
An Amuse of mac and cheese with black truffle oil was a creamy, smoky, delicious appetizer in and of itself.
The Tuna tartare was the height of freshness and the avocado was creamy and complemented the tuna and the corn tortilla chip to perfection.
Shrimp ceviche was done on the same sort of chip as the tuna, but it was sprighty and light with lime juice on a swirl of chipotle mayo that grounded the back end flavor.
Seared scallops on a lemon zest risotto with asparagus consisted of two, large, top of the line, dry farmed scallops (no iodine nastiness here!) with a nice sear on a lovely bed of risotto with fresh and flavorful asparagus.
Greek tacos were pulled pork on the aforementioned tortillas with feta and oregano. Mild, more like a tender pulled pork sandwich without sauce than a traditional Mexican style taco. I liked, but didn't love. Would be a good choice for someone with a less adventurous palate as most of the dishes definitely had a lot of zingy, complex flavors.
The Brussels sprouts came with currants and nuts (almonds?) in a smoky balsamic reduction. One of the few times I've had brussels sprouts that didn't kill my pinot noir, in fact, the smokiness enhanced the flavor and made a nice pairing.
And lastly, Kamil's famous goulash. The Goulash in beer gravy was very nice, fork tender beef. But the real stand out of the dish for me were the homemade pan-fried gnocchi. I could eat those suckers in the beer gravy all day every day!
I'd like to say there was room for desert, but alas, after all that goodness we practically needed a wheelbarrow to get back to the car!
The setting that's so casual at brunch is really neighborhood gem romantic for dinner, the exposed brick wall and wooden beams are the perfect complement for the (admittedly faux) candle lights. The servers are super friendly and know/love the menu. It's a great spot for quiet conversation, or the kind of place where the owner or servers will stay a spell and chat about food, wine and life. In short, the perfect neighborhood restaurant. The prices were beyond reasonable for the quality and portion size. I almost didn't want to post and keep it my own little secret, but they deserve the attention and customers. This was a special evening, and I'm a tough customer!
Blu Jam Cafe
7371 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046