First, I want to thank all the gracious chowhounds who rallied in my desperate 11th hour plea for special occasion restaurant advice. After much relentless mulling over Michael's, JiRaffe in SM...Patina...and A.O.C., I ended up taking Baby Ruth's idea to try Ortolan. Boy, was I ever glad to have jumped on that reco.
Being the shameless amateur food critics that we are (we've blown countless $s on tasting menus the world over), I can honestly say that Ortolan provided one of the most remarkable and enjoyable chef's tasting experiences we've ever had. (Can you say...move over French Laundry?)
First of all, the space is lovely. The main dining room in the front sets the mood with sumptuous white fabrics and low lighting (if you have trouble reading the menu - just ask for one of their handy-dandy mini-flashlights). Upon entering the back room, you are greeted with an entirely different though complementary setting...dark, long bar, wall filled with herbs the chef uses in the kitchen, and a cozy sitting room complete with a big fireplace.
Ok, enough interior design talk...onto the important stuff...the food and drinks!! The highlights of the 9+ course tasting menu were the creamy Foie Gras terrine (one of the best I've had - and you get a nice ample portion), the signature crispy langoustines (a flavor explosion - a must try dish!), the slate roasted scallops (perfectly seared, tender and melt-in-your-mouth-goodness), and the sweetbreads. We also added a special of the night....the Oeuf (soft-boiled egg with whipped cream and sevruga caviar) was AMAZING. We were the last diners of the evening and ended up talking with Chef Christophe for a good hour. He was interested in getting our feedback about our meal, which is always good.
But the icing on the cake were the gorgeous wine pairings delivered by their sommelier, Frederic. Honestly, this was probably the most memorable wine pairings either my BF or I had ever experienced. Each wine had an entirely symbiotic relationship with each course. We loved each of them so much that we asked him for a list of all the wines we'd had since they weren't on the menu. Frederic went out of his way to type them up and print it out for us.
Ortolan is poised to compete with some of the best not just in LA but NY, SF, Chicago,... We'll be back soon to bring my boyfriend's brother who just moved to SoCal (who also happens to be a chef - formerly with Gramercy Tavern in NY). I highly recommend it for an extravagant celebration meal.
Oh yeah, and it's off to A.O.C. tomorrow night for some small plate action and more fab wines. Hope it does justice to our much missed Avec in Chicago. I'll be back to weigh in with my 2 cents on this hot spot.