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Restaurants & Bars

GORDON RAMSAY REVIEW

la tache burger | Jun 19, 200802:56 PM     8

For a slightly expanded review with some (admittedly mediocre) pics, check out my blog post at a brand new website, Eat Drink or Die -- http://www.eatdrinkordie.com/blog/pos...

So after reading threads here, I went with relatively low expectations to Gordon Ramsay's new joint in West Hollywood, with a friend who cooks at Mozza. We had a meal with some serious high points, and some low points, too.

We ordered nine courses between us. The service was poor, but forgivable considering how new the restaurant is. Bottom line, there was zero communication between the multiple people serving us. So, for example, I was only tasting wine, and spitting. But several times someone tried to pour me a full glass, and several times my little "spittoon" was cleared before I could notice. And worst of all, for us, the pig's head never came. Nearly every poster on CH praised the pig's head, even posters who did not care for the overall experience, so that was a bummer (but a reason to go back, which is not the end of the world)

The first big disappointment / red flag was the English pea soup with smoked salmon and caviar. The smoked salmon and caviar were nice, but the pea soup was way below par. It tasted like peas I could find at my local Ralph's. Later, the asparagus served with the veal dish was equally uninspired. Very weird, because in L.A. it's almost like great, fresh, resonant veggies are the norm at quality restaurants. (A friend pointed out that similar questions about sourcing the best ingredients plagued Ramsay in NY for a while. Maybe this will change, I think it would make a big difference.)

Also in the first round of dishes was the much-touted (on this board) duck breast with crispy tongue and foie gras, which was nice but I thought unexceptional. The “breast” is flattened out at the bottom of the plate, gossamer thin, and I kind of felt like I was an astronaut in 2001 as I ate it. Also: Pacific yellow fin tuna with pickled daikon, crab beignets, in a sesame soy dressing. The beignets have been maligned a bit on this board, and I would have to agree. They were a microscopic annoyance. I did not get it at all, and it hurt the very good tuna. My Mozza friend was appalled by the beignet (I did not mention I'd read about them here).

The second round of courses was much better. Shellfish cassoulet with prawn tortellini was good. Monkfish with chicken skin was really good, and I loved the idea – monkfish turned into a chicken by putting chicken skin on it. (Unfortunately, again, the accompanying veggies did not sing). And: the pork belly with diced apple was stunning. Like the best roadside pork rib ever in the world. There was a miniature spring roll on the plate with a bit of the pork and a bit of the apple, and it was brilliant.

Next round of dishes: The veal with crispy sweet breads was tender, juicy and yummy, particularly when the veal and the crispy sweetbreads were eaten in the same bite. Had the asparagus been excellent, the dish might have been really nice. Also: Filet of beef with Kobe short rib. Short rib tasted bland and cardboardy, the filet was perfect.

We kept thinking they were holding the pig's head back till the end. We fantasized that after all these tiny, refined dishes, they would carry out a whole pig’s head, on a spit, apple in its mouth, as a finale. Didn’t happen. And by the end we were full, and instead of bringing a pig's head, they asked us if we wanted dessert.

For dessert we had a chocolate sticky pudding, which was decent; a crème fraîche panna cotta with strawberry gelée, acacia honey and thyme crumble, which was awesome; and a tapioca pudding, which was phenomenal. I’m not a dessert guy, but the dessert course may have been the best.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience, found the room oddly tacky, but in a comforting way, and would return. There's enough good food and wine to make the experience worthwhile. BTW, I did not have a real problem with the portion sizes. We were very full and the bill was reasonable.

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