If anyone has ever read a post by me re Zax, you know that I adore this restaurant. My SO and I have gone about 8 times, and every time has been terrific. Also, after about the 3rd visit, we were treated like regulars, which has not happened at any other restaurant we frequent. Bottom line - the news about Brooke Williamson leaving threw me for a loop. The newspaper said she'd be there until mid-Dec, so my SO and I decided to go last wkend before she left. When we got there, no Brooke. Apparently she's been gone for a wk (I hear she is catering now). We were crushed.
Luckily, we had no reason to worry. The new chef, Mario (last name?), apparently worked with Josiah Citrin for many years, and was his 2nd in command at Melisse. During Mario's first week, he was in the process of phasing out the old dishes and had introduced about 3 new ones already.
We ordered the Proscuitto/manchego salad (one last time!) and the sunchokes appetizer from the old menu. Both were executed to perfection. From Mario's new selections, we chose the scallops (usual portion is 4, we had 6 and they split it on 2 plates for us) and sweet pea ravioli w/ truffles. The scallops were done in several sauces, and the ravioli were to die for. The wine chosen by the best waitress in L.A., Elizabeth (ok, IMHO :), was something unlike what I usually choose, but paired perfectly with the scallops and ravioli. We ended w/ profiteroles, which were good, but nothing beats the mint sandwich. I am happy to report that the only menu item that will not be replaced is the mint ice cream sandwich. My SO breathed a huge sigh of relief over that one!
All in all, I can say I am really excited by Zax's next chapter. Mario came over to our table and we spoke to him for a while. His enthusiasm was readily apparent, and as he described the new dishes he was going to put on the menu (all new ones will be gone w/ a few wks), I thought to myself that this place will likley soon be on the level of Josie, one of the best IMO.
It also does not appear the reasonable prices are going to change, and Mario recognizes that Zax is not Melisse, and I believe he will preserve the identity of Zax, while injecting his own style into the place.
I hope others enjoy give Mario a chance. I think you'll be knocked out by what he's doing there.
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