*chuckle* how strange that the same time i post about an *eh* experience at a place, there is news that it is closing! but this time i *gush* about CHAMEAU, even at the risk of sending someone off on a lonely drive along fairfax and having a horrible experience (a la fassica - lol!) - i'd love to describe what a gorgeous space it is, but i'll resrict myself to the food here :) (and sadly no pix of the food because in my eagerness to GET there i left my camera behind...)
the first things that come to the table are three small things that come with a plate of BREAD. not flatbread, but its flat sort of like a focaccia, but spiced on top very differently. OLIVES, which I could have hoarded and popped all myself. also something that looks like baba ghanouj and Im pretty sure the server did say EGGPLANT PUREE, and the third one is made from PRESERVED LEMONS. not something Id order on my own, but tasted since it was there.
a starter of DUCK BASTILLA with sweet almonds, honey, and spices is a sort of napoleon, with richly spiced tendrils of duck sandwiched between paper-thin pastry leaves, and dusted with powdered sugar. i am told that the chef makes this pastry, called WARKA (?), by hand. very impressive, but i dont think i could quite appreciate the entire thing. i am not a huge fan of duck, and the sweetness in the meat as well as the powdered sugar was a bit too weird of a duck dessert for me.
but i loved the GRILLED MERGUEZ SAUSAGES with CHICKPEA FRIES and ROASTED PEPPER SALAD. these were delicious, with enough spice to mask (for me) the fact the they are made from little baby sheep. i mean, lamb. the chickpea fried were just okay, but i ate them in what would be the equivalent of ketchup, i guess, and was blown away by the sauce which i am now realizing was HARISSA. Spicy. Awesome.
the last starter was BUTTERFLIED SARDINES with charmoula, olives, parsley, and caperberries. the sardines were slippery smooth, soft and spicy spiced (as opposed to spicy hot).
now for the main attraction...
LAMB SHOULDER is served in a tagine with a huge cone-shaped lid that the server lifts off and takes away. the lamb was tender, and with all the spices in the braising liquid, was okay with me. the tenderness of lamb shoulder is what impressed me. cous cous was fragrant, and might be the one to turn me back onto cous cous after a very bad version of it at Houstons many many years ago scarred me.
who orders CHICKEN in a restaurant? well, if a chef can send you into orbit with chicken, imagine what he could do with everything else. the roasted poussin was a teeny bird, roasted whole, and yes, the chef has mad skills because the poussin was tender and so far from boring bird that i had to wonder what did he really put in that spice mixture?!?
GRILLED CULOTTE STEAK was very fat steak, ordered medium-rare, and by golly! it actually came to the table medium-rare. tender, moist, hot around the edges and just barely warm in the center, it was so perfect. there was feta and onions and mushrooms and potatoes, but i didnt taste them.
ROASTED WHOLE LEMON SOLE was enormous, covered with a creamy white sauce that had a noticeable but not obnoxious lemon tang. the flesh inside was a gorgeous, moist, flaky white, and served with a perfect little pile of baby artichokes.
GATEAU AU CHOCOLAT with caramel ice cream and cinnamon chocolate sauce as well as the DATE-ALMOND SNAKE with caramel sauce and honey mousse rounded out our dinner. for some reason, the snake didnt work wonders for me. honey mousse was light and delicious, but im not fond of mousses to begin with. but oh, holy, caramel ice cream. i didnt even luuurve the gateau (das eez dee francais of French moroccan), which is surprising since its chocolate but the caramel ice cream was a standout.
next time, (oh, yes, there WILL be a next time) i will probably just order perhaps a starter and a few of the "extras" that are a la carte on the menu - small plates dining. AND i can order just the caramel ice cream. :)
339 n fairfax ave (at beverly blvd)
la, ca 90036