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Restaurants & Bars 7

LUNCH WITH RUSSKAR

G FEHER | Apr 22, 2004 11:34 PM

After a few attempts to reach Russkar via e mail, success at last! We agreed to meet at Mi India Bonita Tuesday morning. I arrived about 15 minutes early and recognized Russkar instantly by a big ear to ear Cheshire cat grin.
Prior to his arrival, I had ordered about 12 items to go. Russkar asked me if I had a few hours to kill, lucky for me, I did! He indicated that there was a restaurant called Il Grano in West LA that he was sure I would enjoy. We piled into Russkars Lexus and went to pick up his lovley wife Kar. (Looks like a model) We dropped Kar off at the salon in Beverly Hills and then it was on to Il Grano to meet his friend Kevin, a pleasant fellow chowhound who is the president of a construction company. Every one at Il Grano seemed to know Russkar and we were treated like royalty from the minute we walked in. With Russkar, a menu is not necessary. The chef prepared for our table a special menu which he called Degustation Il Grano. The first course was called Crudu Del Mare. This raw dish included Japanese snapper, live diver scallops which were very sweet and butter tender, blue fin tuna, octopus, Japanese sole and a kumamoto oyster, all dressed with a perfect cold beet and blood orange gelee. All of these items were so fresh, they nearly jumped off the plate. Amazing! Second course consisted of cuttle fish with Japanese sardines and baby tomato, it was served over arrugula with a light and flavorful garlic/lemon vinegarette. Another winner! Next, a salad, with Mann diver scallops, Asian pear, enoki mushrooms and watermelon radish, all lovingly served over wild arrugula so very crisp and slightly peppery. This was dressed with a blood orange dressing which was very light, refreshing, and a perfect compliment to all it touched. Next course, homemade pasta with Maman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, morele mushrooms and sweet baby peas finished with mushroom stock and cream. Next course. ( Im getting stuffed just writing this post)It seems they were really saving the best for last! Black cod "aqua pazza" which means crazy water. This jewel was so unbeliveable that each of us fell silent after the first bite. Sweet and melt in your mouth tender, it was served with black mussels, baby clams, Santa Barbara spot prawns, grilled diver scallops with octopus. Served with a beautifully balanced and very flavorful spicy tomato and lobster broth. Now comes dessert. This in my opinion was the only flat spot in an otherwise perfect meal. It included a honey almond panna cotta which was a little bland and not up to the superior creamy sweet version I had experienced at Drago a while back. It was served with fresh berries and watermelon gelato. Up to this point I have not commented on the three stellar wine selections we enjoyed through the course of afternoon as I dont consider myself enough of a wine authority. Two excellent whites and a red pulled everything together flawlessly, one of them from Russkars own personal collection. This fellow Russkar is a true Chow-Hound who seeks out the very best that the culinary world has to offer from Colorado lamb to Canadian baby backs. He enjoys life one bite at a time and truly knows his way around the restaurant circut. Even as we were leaving he was looking to forward dinner just three hours later at Enoteka Drago in Beverly Hills. Russkar, you go boy!!!

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