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Black Truffle Dinner - WOW... (Long review)...

woo! | Jan 30, 2003 02:30 PM

Had dinner last night at Patina on Melrose… a little trepidation on my part going in, because I’ve never really had a stellar meal at the other Splichal franchises… all the Pinots, Catal, etc… but we are very please to report that Patina was stellar!

We showed up more than a little late for our reservation (what is it with traffic on the 101?), but had no difficulty at all... our poor friends had been waiting for us... sorry guys (again)! The staff was extraordinarily helpful and service was executed flawlessly. We were there for the Black Truffle Menu that is going on for a few days this week. On to the menu:

Amuse: A small corn bellini with salmon belly confit – really great, small taste, the salmon was velvety smooth and the “rusticness” of the corn belly was a great contrast.

Course 1: Hamachi tartare with shaved celery, Serrano ham and shaved black truffles. WOW. The hamachi was VERY fresh, perfect texture, and a generous amount. Really well accented against the saltiness of the ham and crispness of the celery. Great appetizer. Also a TON of black truffles. It should be noted that each course in the menu (except the cheese course) had black truffles, and very generous amount of them. All the truffles throughout dinner were remarkably fragrant, and did not exude any “staleness” that can happen... very high ingredient quality.

Course 2: Poached lobster with confit of tomatoes, lemon confit, basil, lentils and black truffles. The lobster poached was done just right… combine that with the flavor of the tomatoe confit and coarseness of the lentils… what a great dish. Again LOTS of black truffles.

Course 3: Scottish salmon with beets and a balsamic emulsion and black truffles.. So many places we’ve been to just aren’t able to execute a medium rare piece of salmon while maintaining great crispy skin… UNTIL NOW. They did a PERFECT job of the fish being just the right amount of doneness with the skin being really flavorful and crispy, but NOT burnt. What a great piece of fish this was. Let’s not forget… lot’s of black truffles. By the way, this was an extra course we added, not a normal part of the black truffle tasting menu.

Course 4: Risotto of black truffles with Parmiagiano-Reggiano and Ligurian olive oil. Honestly, my favorite way of eating truffles are with very simple risotto or lightly scrambled eggs. This was no exception. The risotto was done just right, not soupy, not pasty, not mushy, just the right amount of bite, and no clumps whatsoever. With the Parm/Reg, it was a great platform to enjoy the very healthy portion of black truffles.

Course 5: Grilled striploin of beef with braised shortribs, romaine wrapped with pancetta and black truffles. The other option for this course was squab, which I love, but I’m a sucker for anything with braised shortribs, not to mention I had squab just a couple of nights ago in SFO. The beef was fantastic, but to me the winner on this course were the braised shortribs, off the bone. How can you lose with a good braise? The meatiness and fat of the shortribs were tremendous. Awesome dish. And again, let’s not forget the mound of black truffles that came with the dish… life is good.

Cheese course: I forgot to write down which cheeses, but I do remember a really good brie, and some Humboldt Fog… one of my favs. Really good cheese service. Good bread, good selection. Wait a minue! They forgot the truffles! :)...

Dessert: Chocolate fondant cake with hazelnuts, caramel and black truffle ice cream. Very rich, very good chocolate cake… GREAT truffle ice cream. If you like the flavor of black truffles, and you like ice cream, this dessert is for you.

Ended with cookies… pretty good ones too.

For wines, we ended up drinking wines that we brought, but the wine list is very extensive and there seemed to be a wide range of choices at different price levels. The wines were a ’90 Corton Charlemagne (I can’t remember which one.. our pals brought this… sorry… it was a really good one) – for the first couple of courses, a KILLER ’66 Gevrey Chambertin – for the salmon and risotto… would have been the wine of the night any other night, except for… ’82 Cheval… HOLY MOTHER OF GOD… what a great wine… epic/legendary Bordeaux… with the beef. ’99 Jurancon and ’85 Monsanto (late harvest) for the cheese course.

All in all, a wonderful dining experience. Kudos to the staff, our server was a lovely young lady named Terri (sp?), the sommelier, Chris Meeske, did an extraordinary job with the wine service, went so far as to very discreetly label the two different wine glasses we used for the cheese course, and we were checked on several times by the GM, Jay Perrin. Again the service execution was flawless.

We were given a real break on the corkage even though we didn’t buy any wine there (I think they comp’d us two corkage charges), and actually come to think of it I felt really bad that we didn’t buy any wine there, we almost always buy a bottle when we bring. Although we did share with the staff quite a bit. The total bill for food, tax, corkage, etc.. was just a hair over $125 per person, which ain’t bad at all considering the huge amount of truffles we received (and it looked like everyone was getting)…. The published price of the truffle menu was $90 or $100, and we did add a course. Overall a great dining and service experience that was a solid value. Highly recommended.

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