Sunday, August 31, 2008

5x5 Chef's Collaborative (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

5x5 Chef's Collaborative
544 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Sun 08/31/2008, 08:00p-10:35p

This was dinner number four of the 2008 5x5 Chef's Collaborative dinner series, held at Water Grill. My first visit to Water Grill was some years ago, right when then Executive Chef Michael Cimarusti left to start Providence. Thus, in a way it was quite fitting to be back for the 5x5, to have Cimarusti back in the kitchen at Water Grill after all these years.

At each 5x5 dinner, each of the five "core" chefs and one guest chef prepares one dish in a multi-course meal; dessert is made by the pastry chef of the host restaurant. The participating chefs this year are: Gino Angelini (La Terza, Angelini Osteria), Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Josiah Citrin (Melisse), David Lefevre (Water Grill), and Walter Manzke (ex-Bastide). The first of the series was held at Providence. Dinner number two was supposed to be held at Bastide, but was cancelled due to the firing of Executive Chef Walter Manzke. The third was at Melisse, which I had to miss due to work. This was number four, with Giuseppe Tentori of Boka, Chicago. Five is at La Terza (which unfortunately I won't be able to attend), and I've heard rumors that a sixth to replace Bastide will be held at Alain Giraud's Anisette.

Water Grill can be divided into two halves, with one being a dining room (lower right photo) and the other a bar-lounge area where the entrance is located. We were seated at the most north-western table in the restaurant.

The special seven-course 5x5 menu was $150 plus $65 for the optional wine pairing. The menu is signed by all chefs save for Giuseppe Tentori of Boka, who had to attend to an emergency back in Italy. Click for a larger version.

Sourdough, black olive, and French breads were offered, with my favorite being the olive.

  • Kanpachi with Pineapple and Daikon Chip - The addition of pineapple to the kanpachi made the whole amalgam too sweet for me, as I had difficulty detecting the fish. The daikon really came to the fore, actually too much so for my taste; I would've preferred a thinner chip.
  • Risotto Balls with Saffron, Papaya, and Andouille Sausage - When I heard risotto ball, I was expecting something like what I had at The Courtyard; rather, risotto made up the minority of the ball. In any case, the sweet-salty interplay between the papaya and sausage was interesting, though I can't say that I was completely sold.
  • Foie Gras with Orange Konjac Jelly and Orange Zest - A very mild piece of foie was highlighted by the subtle sweetness of the orange jelly. The piece of orange zest, meanwhile, added a pronounced tartness to the finish. This was the best of the trio.

Amuse Bouche: Uni with Fennel Sorbet and Tonburi [by David Lefevre of Water Grill]
Bruno Gobillard, Vieilles Vignes, Brut, Champagne, France NV
What I initially mistook for caviar turned out to be tonburi, a type of dried seed from Japan with a texture similar to real caviar; its taste was far less salty I thought though. Nevertheless, the uni was a solid example, though it really melded in with all the other ingredients rather taking center stage. The crispness and mild flavor of the radish salad made a great contrasting accompaniment to the roe.

1: Big Eye Tuna Sashimi [by Giuseppe Tentori of Boka]
Villa Sparina, Gavi di Gavi, Piedmont, Italy 2006
With Petite Mache, Jicima, Watermelon, Pineapple, Quinoa, Overcooked Quail's Egg, and Shellfish Emulsion. This looked like something out of Providence. The use of the various fruits added a touch of sweetness to the fish, which was otherwise quite mild. More importantly, the fish's flavor was not overpowered. I loved the quail egg, and the quinoa was an interesting textural twist.

2: Pan Roasted Sea Scallop [by Michael Cimarusti of Providence]
Hogl, Gruner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau, Austria 2006
With American Caviar and Yukon Gold Potato. With this dish, Cimarusti doesn't stray too far from convention, or deliciousness. A near-perfectly cooked scallop, elevated by the briny tang of caviar and the zing of lemon, was tempered with bits of potato that added some well-placed crunch. One of my dining companions liked this to a less "melt-in-your-mouth" version of a preparation of scallop at New York's three-star Le Bernardin. Not having had said scallop, I cannot compare, but I had no complaints here.

3: Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Risotto with Asparagus [by Gino Angelini of La Terza and Angelina Osteria]
Jaffurs, Viognier, Santa Barbara, California 2007
The prawn was very tender, too tender in my opinion. It lacked the crispness and bite that I like. The risotto, meanwhile, was done al dente, giving the rice a very pleasant mouthfeel; I liked it better than the prawn. The use of asparagus in the risotto was superb.

4: Roasted John Dory [by Josiah Citrine of Melisse]
Quattro Mani, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy 2006
Mushroom Tart, Chorizo-Torpedo Onion Marmalade, Red Wine Mushroom Jus. This was a letdown, as the fish was soft and flaky, but very nondescript and a bit boring. It didn't stand up to the very aggressive sauces on the plate. The mushroom tart was a good attempt to rescue the dish, but it lacked crispness.

5: Hawaiian Mero [by Walter Manzke formerly of Bastide]
Demetria, Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, California 2005
With Kobe Oxtail and Red Wine Sauce. I was not a fan of the fish. It was rather rubbery and nearly flavorless, reminding me a bit of the sea bass I had at Café Hiro, but worse. Fortunately the rest of the dish was better. To the left we started with celery root topped with bacon and onion. Then there was roasted carrot topped with bone marrow and chive; the carrot was the star here. Finally, we had roasted potato topped with Wagyu oxtail, my favorite item on the plate; the richness of the Wagyu oxtail worked marvelously with the stark simplicity of potato.

6: Yogurt Parfait [by John Park of Water Grill]
Joseph Phelps Eisrébe, Napa Valley, California 2006
With Cherries, White Nectarine Sorbet, and Clementine Sauce. I loved the presentation of the parfait here as a solid block. It's mild acidity made it a great canvas for the rest of the items in the dessert. I especially enjoyed the richness of the cherries and light tartness of the sorbet. Impressive.

A rather large plate was first presented, consisting of churros, Valrhona chocolate shortbread, peanut butter and jelly, pistachio macarons, chocolate macarons, peach petit fours, and chocolate bonbons. Next, we were given chocolate ice cream lollipops à la Michael Mina, which were, of course, delicious.

This was a solid meal, but not up to the level of the 5x5 at Providence. The dishes didn't seem as sharp, as focused, or as bold. And the restaurant itself didn't have the buzz, the excitement of the first meal. It just seemed like dinner as usual, which is unfortunate, as this was indeed a special event. I won't be able to attend the next dinner at La Terza, but hopefully I'll see some of the energy return if the Anisette dinner ever gets off the ground.


Blogger digkv said...

Ah another wonderful post full of food porn pictures thanks so much Kevin it was very enjoyable. I must say that macarons are one of my favorite pastries how were those?

Friday, September 12, 2008 6:37:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks digkv! The macarons were delicious though nothing spectacular. It was my first time having pistachio flavored ones.

Friday, September 12, 2008 7:04:00 PM  
Blogger Tubs said...

What a great post!!! I'm going to try and make up time to post mine tomorrow after cooking classes :P

Have been preoccupied trying to re-arrange my room and kitchen ... had a moment of inspiration...

heheheh I might steal some of your pics if you don't mind... they are sooo nice....

anyway chat soon


Saturday, September 13, 2008 7:36:00 PM  
Blogger Tubs said...

Oh and I really like yours and tangbro1's writing style soooo professional!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008 7:37:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks tubs! I hope to see your review by tomorrow night. Feel free to use the pics, but can you put a link back?

Saturday, September 13, 2008 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger Tubs said...

Just tried to call you. I'll call you tomorrow :P Do you know how to make the margins smaller on the blog? I like yours it is very nice and easy to present :P

Sunday, September 21, 2008 8:00:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

The margins were a lot larger by default. To change them, I edited the following in my template:

@media all {
#content {
width:1250px; <-total width
margin:0 auto;
#main {
width:1150px; <-body width
#sidebar {
width:100px; <-side bar width

Monday, September 22, 2008 1:20:00 AM  
Blogger Tubs said...

aaargh mine doesn't have the same thing last time I coded anything I was 14 years old!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008 6:55:00 PM  
Blogger sdfafsadf said...

hey kevin,
does this place have water motifs in the decor? i'm looking for a cool resto with water themes for a proposal scene in a sshort film. any recs?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 1:59:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Jin, the water motifs are very subtle and probably wouldn't work for you unfortunately.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 2:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to this years 5x5 at the water grill and after seeing the food from last year, we got the short end of the stick! We received no canapes and our mignardise were a fraction of what you received.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 3:46:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

That's unfortunate! Did you inquire as to why?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 3:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Joce from {Foodie Finder} said...

Hey Kevin,

Apparently, Zagat claims this place as the best Seafood Restaurant in Southern California (it's mentioned all over its site). What is your take? Is this place birthday/promotion/anniversary worthy?

Btw, I'm hitting up Guy Savoy and Joel Robuchon for my birthday weekend next March.

Always appreciate your honest opinion!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 7:16:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Water Grill's solid, but I reckon that you'd be better served at Providence.

BTW, in addition to Savoy and Robuchon in Vegas, you might want to consider Twist, Pierre Gagnaire's new place at the Mandarin Oriental, opening up in December. ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 7:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Joce from {Foodie Finder} said...

Thanks for the advice. I guess I'll be making my birthday weekend a 3-day getaway. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 11:18:00 PM  

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