Monday, February 23, 2009

XIV (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

8117 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Mon 02/23/2009, 08:00p-12:15a

I was one of the first bloggers to cover XIV ("fourteen"), having dined here on opening night in October 2008. As a result, I was invited back for a complementary tasting of restaurant's new Spring menu. I was actually supposed to have dinner in Downtown that night with a colleague of mine (likely at Drago Centro or Rivera), but we changed plans and made our way to XIV, as this was an offer I couldn't pass up.

Note the addition of "A Michael Mina Restaurant" signage, presumably there to capitalize on Mina's brand name. An added bonus: valet is now only $11, instead of $14.

The Philippe Starck-designed interior was as fanciful as always. This time, we were seated toward the back of the room, with an unobstructed view of the kitchen and newly-finished covered Terrace. Unfortunately, the lighting was noticeably dimmer than on my first visit, resulting in me having to poach two candles from a nearby table in order to adequately light the food.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of XIV is its menu. The idea behind the "social dining experiment" was to have a "family-style" tasting menu--basically the same series of small plates for everyone at the table. The concept was met with some resistance (e.g. "sometimes you just want to have a steak"), and as a result, XIV now offers the choice of à la carte selections as well. Early reports from Chowballa falsely stated that the original concept was to be "chucked" altogether; rather, the new menu comes in addition to what's already available. Diners can still construct their own tasting menus, or choose from the 8/11/14/35-course options. The 35-course "Gamut" (they were also considering calling it the "Gauntlet" I'm told--an apt description) was what I had on my first visit, and naturally, I had to go for it again. The menu was about 75% new, so I was eager to try out the new dishes. The signatures on the menu are of Executive Chef Steven Fretz and Pastry Chef Jordan Kahn; click for a larger version.

Upon being seated, we were brought two glasses of the Chartogne-Taillet Brut Cuvée Michael Mina. It was surprisingly good for a "house" sparkler, showing flavors of apple, lemon, and quite a bit of yeast. Even my dining companion, who's not huge on Champagne, enjoyed it.

The naan was as good as ever, and now comes with a dipping sauce (something akin to tzatziki or raita), giving the bread a refreshingly cool tang. We were told that the idea for naan originally came from Seablue, Mina's Mediterranean restaurant. Later on in the night, we were brought into the kitchen, shown the 500-degree tandoor, and introduced to the dedicated naan chef, reportedly lured away from a top Indian restaurant.

1: Michael's Caviar Parfait
Once again, there was no amuse bouche course, but once again, we started with the wonderful Caviar Parfait. There are a few choices for the roe here, with this example topped with American Osetra sturgeon caviar. The potato croquette was what hit me first, followed by the creamy amalgam of egg, salmon and crème fraîche, finally ending with the briny zest of the caviar. I loved the interplay between the different tastes and textures here, making this multilayered affair a great way to start things off.

Since my dining companion isn't a huge wine drinker, we decided to eschew wine in favor of cocktails. Creative cocktails seem to be all the rage these days, and I'd been very impressed with XIV's selection on my prior visit. My dining companion is a fan of rum, so I recommended a Caipirinha (Weber Haus, Muddled Lime, Demerara Sugar) [$14]. It's Brazil's national cocktail, made here with Weber Haus premium cachaça (a rum-like liquor distilled from sugarcane juice). I had a sip and loved it--it was like a mojito, but not as blunt, with less tartness and a more refined sweetness (perhaps due to the use of Demerara raw cane sugar).

For myself, I ordered a Pineapple Pimm's (Pimm's No. 1, Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva, Pineapple Juice, Angostura Bitters, Bay Leaf) [$15]. This had an intensely pineapple nose that was hardly discernable from pineapple juice, but the taste was fortunately much more complex, with the herbal-tinged spice of the gin-based Pimm's No. 1, the bittersweet flavor of the Matusalem rum, and the bitterness of the Angostura and bay leaf adding complexity over the backdrop of pineapple.

2: Ice Cold Shellfish
White Shrimp Panna Cotta, Kushi Oyster, King Crab. This was almost exactly the same trio as before, save for the inclusion of king crab for steamed clams. The sweet shrimp seemed to be a bit sweeter this time, but this was nicely countered by a sharp, tangy saltiness. The crab, meanwhile, had a great texture and the preparation really allowed the natural flavor of the crustacean to shine through; it went well with the included sauce, but could've stood on its own. Finally, we have the Champagne foam-topped oyster; because I tried it last time, I let my dining companion have at it in its entirety.

3: Ahi Tuna Tartare
Ancho Chile, Pears, Mint, Pine Nuts, Sesame Oil. Tuna tartares are almost clichéd in haute cuisine these days, so it's nice to find one that breaks away from the mold. The anchos (dried poblanos) gave the otherwise mild a tuna a spicy kick, while the use of sesame oil imparted richness to the fish. The pine nuts and pears added contrasting nutty and sweet flavors, while adding a great crunch to the dish.

4: Hamachi Sashimi
Clementine, Radish, Spanish Brandy Gelée. We have here a crudo-esque preparation of yellowtail. The hamachi was a fairly unctuous fish, with a strong flavor and rich body. As such, the pairing of clementine worked very well, tempering the heavy nature of the fish while adding a bit of sweetness. I was fairly pleased with the end result, while my dining companion thought that the flavor was "interesting."

5: Heirloom Beets
Burrata, Wild Arugula, Aged Balsamic, New Olive Oil. Beets seem to have gained popularity in recent years, but I'm still not sold on them. The sweetness of the beets here was intensified by the balsamic, foiling to some extent the savoriness contributed by the burrata and olive oil. Not a huge fan, but the dish worked out reasonably well given my preferences.

6: Baby Frisée & Gem Lettuce
Persimmon, Pomegranate, Pumpkin Seed, Apple. I'm usually not huge on salad, but I really enjoyed this one. The use of pumpkin seed was key, as it added a fantastic lingering nuttiness to the dish, contrasting perfectly with the tart tang of pomegranate. Both elements, along with the apple, made the salad extremely texturally pleasing as well, with the lettuce and frisée tying everything together. Superb.

7: XIV Caesar Salad
Classic Dressing, Shaved Parmesan Reggiano. This was actually a pretty traditional preparation of the classic salad, with the Parmesan cheese adding a rather intense flavor to go along with the tangy Caesar dressing and fishiness of the anchovy. Unexciting, but definitely one of the better versions I've had of this staple.

8: Beef Carpaccio
Hearts of Romaine, Cherry Tomatoes, Horseradish. Another holdover from the previous menu. The beef was mildly flavored, so the tang of horseradish was the focus here flavor-wise. Again, the lettuce was key, adding a light contrast to the rest of the dish. Quite nice.

9: Dungeness Crab Crêpe
Basil, Capers, Scampi Hollandaise. In my last post, I'd complained about the nondescript nature of the Dungeness crab spring roll previously on the menu. That item has been seemingly replaced by this crab crêpe. The crab in the spring rolls was basically indiscernible, but the crustacean's signature sweetness was apparent in spades here, tempered by the rich tartness of the hollandaise and capers.

10: Sea Scallops Tempura
Cauliflower, Passion Fruit, Almonds. Though this dish was exactly the same as before, I liked it a bit better this time around. The natural sweetness of the scallops was very apparent, highlighted by their caramelized exteriors. This was complemented by the nuttiness of the almonds and finally the fruity finish of passion fruit. Very nice.

Once we dispensed with our first round of cocktails, it was time for another. My dining companion ordered a Yuzu "Rickey" (Plymouth, Yuzu, Fresh Lemon, Regan's Orange Bitters #6, Pastis-Rinsed Glass, Crushed Ice, Soda) [$13]. This was basically a variation on the classic Lime Rickey, with yuzu substituted for lime. The overall result was a fanciful interplay between the forces of tart and sweet, over the herbal/spicy backdrop of gin, orange bitters, and pastis (an anise-flavored liqueur--basically absinthe without the wormwood).

As for me, I had the Diablo (Herradura Reposado, Crème de Cassis, Fresh Lime, Ginger Ale) [$15]. Crème de cassis is a black currant-flavored liqueur, and is what I tasted initially in the cocktail. Its flavor is sickly sweet when taken alone, so it was nicely balanced by the sourness of the lime, as well as the subtle vanilla, grass, and honey flavors of the Herradura tequila. Even my tequila-averse dining companion liked this.

11: Salt & Pepper Big Fin Squid
Glass Noodles, Carrots, Sprouts, Ginger. The squid itself wasn't particularly interesting. What was interesting was the contrast between the peppery and sweet components of the course, leading to an Asian-like essence to the whole dish. Better than the first time, though I'm still not enamored with it.

12: Foie Gras Terrine
Cranberry, Cardamom, Greek Yogurt, Flatbread. This was one of the best dishes on my last visit here, and once again, it did not disappoint. The terrine showed off the delicate, yet rich, flavors of the foie gras, while the cranberry gelée built upon that base with a lovely sweetness. Amazingly, my dining companion, who nearly vomited upon having foie gras at TRU in Chicago, actually liked it. A standout.

13: Spring Garlic Soup
Preserved Meyer Lemon, Parsley, Country Bread. The essence of garlic pervaded this surprisingly rich and hearty soup, punctuated by the acidity of lemon and the crispness of the vegetables. The bread was pleasant but pretty much unnecessary.

14: White Asparagus Risotto
Porcini, Chervil, Castelmagno Cheese. I quite liked the flavor of the risotto, with the asparagus and mushroom present but well integrated into the dish. The Castelmagno, meanwhile, added weight and gravity, but too much so in my opinion, muddling a bit of the flavor.

15: Tai Snapper
Tapioca-Crusted, Broccoli Rabe, White Soy Vinaigrette. Upon tasting this, both my dining companion and I instantly noted a distinct Chinese influence, with the accoutrements almost giving it a somewhat "sweet & sour" flavor. The texture, meanwhile, was also akin to Chinese-style fried fish, with a firm yet yielding consistency. Overall very nice--a welcomed addition to the menu.

16: Black Cod
Spaghetti Squash, Bluefoot Mushrooms, Foie Gras Dashi. We had a very similar dish last time, but with matsutake mushrooms instead of blue foot. The combination of mushroom, foie gras, and dashi gave the dish a decidedly "funky" flavor, which dominated whatever flavor was left from the cod. Not a fan of this one.

17: Maine Lobster Pot Pie
Brandied Lobster Cream, Baby Vegetables. The lobster itself was rich, buttery, sweet, with a texture that was tender yet with a nice bite, while the veggies added some color and variety to the course. I especially enjoyed the light, fluffy pie crust in relation to the rest of the dish. Not the most inventive dish, but delicious.

18: Jidori Chicken
Truffled Mac & Cheese, Caramelized Onion Sauce. I'm a fan of mac & cheese, so the truffled, super-cheesy version here suited me well. However, it overpowered the chicken somewhat, which by itself was tender, delicate, and juicy. My dining companion, meanwhile, absolutely loved the onion rings (which I likened to Funyuns).

19: Berkshire Pork
Crispy Pork Belly and Leg, Pea Leaves, Salted Cashew. Basically a duo of pork. I first tried the leg, which was smoky and savory, lean but still moist. The belly was a holdover from before, and was extraordinarily rich and fatty as expected--too much so by itself, but excellent with the pea leaves. The lemon sauce, which was overpowering last time, was fortunately toned down a bit.

At this point, my dining companion was finished with regard to booze, but I continued on with the cocktails, this time a Hylo Swizzle (Mount Gay Eclipse, Velvet Falernum, Parfait Amour, Fresh Lemon, "Swizzled") [$14]. The drink is variation on the famous rum swizzle, "Bermuda's national drink," which is traditionally made with dark rum, fruit juice, and falernum (a sweet syrup used in Caribbean cocktails). This version also included Parfait Amour, a curaçao-based liqueur. The end result was quite pleasing; the base was definitely rum, but it was layered with floral, fruity, tart, and spicy notes.

20: Kobe Burger
French Fries, Farmhouse Cheddar. This was a scaled down version of the standard Kobe burger, so it was more akin to a slider--all the rage these days. In any case, it was one of the most decadent burgers I've had. The meat was nearly ridiculously unctuous, with an almost foie gras-esque flavor. Its richness was aptly cut by the tang of the veggies and sauce. The fries were also a force to be reckoned with. Cooked in duck fat, they were wonderfully crisp, with an herbal zest that was complemented nicely by the surprisingly tart "ketchup."

21: Liberty Duck Breast
Seared Foie Gras, Leg Confit, Pineapple, Star Anise. The duck was quite flavorful on its own, with a taste that was accented by the use of anise. I felt though that the pineapple added a bit too much sweetness to the dish, distracting me from the duck. As for the foie, it was a fairly typical seared presentation; my dining companion didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the terrine (nor did I).

22: Prime Rib Eye
Potato Trio, Roasted Beet Diane Sauce. A nicely done piece of meat, with a great charred exterior and flavorful interior, fatty enough but not overwhelmingly so. The sauce gave the beef just a hint of sweetness without drawing attention away from the meat.

23: Angus Filet Mignon
Short Rib Tortellini, Baby Root Vegetables. A lean but flavorful presentation of beef--I wouldn't mind eating a full size portion of this. The veggies actually went a long way to counter the richness of the meat, and the tortellini, filled with braised short rib, was superb, and could really be a standalone dish.

24: California Lamb Skewer
Loin, Merguez Sausage, Chickpea, Raita. Alternating bits of lamb loin and Merguez sausage (a spicy sausage from North Africa) made up the skewer. The result was phenomenal, a combination of the succulent flavor of lamb commingled with the spiciness of the Merguez. This intensity was moderated and complemented by the cool raita and mild chickpea purée. Easily the most exciting of the meat dishes, and one of the few (unfortunately) that give a peek into Mina's middle-eastern heritage.

For some reason, the final meat course, the strip loin, was skipped. Not a huge loss, but a bit perplexing. Thus, with the savories dispensed with, it was now time for just about the most creative presentations of cheese and dessert this side of Alinea.

My final cocktail was the New York Sour (Bulleit, Fresh Lemon, Egg White, "Claret") [$13]. A sour is a cocktail with a whiskey base, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener. The whiskey here was Bulleit, a straight American bourbon characterized by its high rye content and long aging. It gave the drink a woody, spicy, smoky flavor that was tempered by the other ingredients. I was especially intrigued by the use of "claret," a term that typically refers to Bordeaux-style wine.

25: Abbaye de Belloc
Quince, Candied Mustard Seed, Sorrel. Things got off to a great start with the Abbaye de Belloc, an unpasteurized semi-hard sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region of France. It had a mild, creamy, subtly sweet flavor that was matched perfectly with the apple-like sweetness of the quince, while the mustards seeds added a crunchy textural contrast.

26: 5 Year Gouda
Hoisin, Roasted Peanuts. Gouda is a cow's milk cheese originating from Holland. The cheese is fairly salty, but can age for several years, developing a sweetness in the process. That sweetness was paired up nicely with the home-made hoisin and its savory/sweet flavor. Finally, the use of peanuts gave the whole commixture a nutty finish.

27: Delice d'Argental
Preserved Plum, Juniper Shortbread. Delice d'Argental is a semi-soft triple-creme pasteurized cow's milk cheese from Bourgogne; it contains crème fraîche, giving it a bit of a tang along with added richness. The cheese pairs well with sweet items, and the plum and honey fit that role deftly, adding depth to the otherwise mild cheese.

28: Fourme d'Ambert
Royal Tokaji, Celery, Black Walnuts. The Fourme d'Ambert is a semi-hard pasteurized cow's milk blue cheese from the Auvergne region of France. The cheese was strong, salty, and nutty on its own, but was expertly tempered by the sweetness of the Royal Tokaji gelée, while the celery provided a refreshing element to the dish.

29: Selles-sur-Cher
Jackfruit, Pistachio, Mimosa Flower. Selles-sur-Cher is a French goat's milk cheese, one that I actually had just days earlier at Mélisse. I must say that I preferred this presentation. The jackfruit provided a delicate sweetness that drew out the mild flavor of the cheese, while the pistachio gave the dish a nutty flavor and wonderful, crunchy finish.

30: Brandied Bananas
Jasmine Ice Cream, Cashew Shortbread, English Toffee. The presence of banana in the dessert was pervasive, but there was so much more going on. Its flavor was countered by the rich caramel smokiness of the toffee and the cool tang of the jasmine ice cream, while the finish was awash with the salty nuttiness of cashew.

31: Grapefruit Sorbet
Greek Yogurt, Kaffir Lime Meringue. An absolutely fanciful looking dessert, this managed to turn an otherwise pedestrian ingredient (grapefruit sorbet) into something truly special. The sorbet itself was infused with the sweet essence of grapefruit, which was mitigated by the light tartness of the yogurt and meringues. At the same time, the meringues provided a fascinating texture to the dessert--light, fluffy, hard, almost like Styrofoam.

32: Macallan Butterscotch
Winter Squash Cake, Toasted Milk Ice Cream, Malt. The overt sweetness of the butterscotch really formed the base of this "shake," heightened and accentuated by the use of woody, smoky, Macallan Scotch. The malt proved to be the perfect accent to this combination, recalling the various malted shakes of my childhood. Very good.

33: Opéra Torte
Almond Milk Ice Cream, Apricot Purée. An opera torte is a multilayered cake, typically made with alternating layers of cream, chocolate, and sponge cake. The torte would've been good on its own, but here it was further elevated by the interplay between the mild, nutty ice cream and tart apricot purée.

34: Dark Chocolate Cake
Spearmint Ganache, Coconut Sorbet. A mere "chocolate cake" might seem boring, but Kahn manages to spice things up here as well, using the mintiness of the ganache and cool tang of the sorbet as foils to the rich bitterness of the dark chocolate. I really liked the somewhat "organic" presentation here as well. A fitting end to our meal.

At the end of the dinner, Chef Fretz gave us a tour of the kitchen, where we were also able to meet Jordan Kahn.

Last time, I wrote that XIV was "surprisingly good." I'm happy to report that the restaurant seems to have been able to keep up this positive momentum, a few weak courses notwithstanding. My desire is that they keep refining and rationalizing the menu, getting rid of ineffectual dishes (as they did with the dreadful Pumpkin Dumplings), introducing new ones, revamping older ones, and bringing back some of the classics (White Chocolate Cube anyone?). The food is as serious and as strong as before, but I sincerely hope that Mina and company can keep it at this level in the face of economic turmoil and persistent Hollywood douche bag crowds--I don't want XIV turning into another Apple.


Blogger Lori F said...

whoa... i'm sated.
great review kevin!

Saturday, March 14, 2009 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks afrikando! I was pretty sated after the meal as well. ;)

Sunday, March 15, 2009 1:36:00 AM  
Blogger Kung Food Panda said...

Wonderful review as usual Kevin. I've been meaning to check out XIV for awhile, but it'll have to wait until after Urasawa.

Until then, see you at the sushi dinner bro!


Sunday, March 15, 2009 4:10:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks Danny. XIV is definitely worth a try.

Looking forward to Urasawa!

Sunday, March 15, 2009 4:32:00 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Duck fat fries? Yum.

Have you tried horse fat pomme frites?

Sunday, March 15, 2009 7:11:00 PM  
Blogger MyLastBite said...

I've been afraid of the Gamut ever since your first post... but will definitely check out XIV soon. Great photos!

Sunday, March 15, 2009 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Aaron: I've eaten horse, but not horse fat pommes frites. Is that even available around here?

Jo: Nothing to be afraid of, as long as you attempt it with a partner. ;)

Monday, March 16, 2009 12:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

went there a couple weeks back. i like that they have the entree menu in addition. we started with a few of the tapas, but ordered a really good steak for dinner. cool layout, nice touch with the coat check too. the butterscotch dessert was heaven on earth. do they serve a supergulp version of it?


Monday, March 16, 2009 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Glad the restaurant worked out for you Paul. The Macallan Butterscotch was delicious. Funny you mention the "supergulp" though, as I was thinking the same thing while I was eating/drinking it!

Monday, March 16, 2009 1:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the dish are very original - as not seen in other restaurants. Thanks for sharing, they all look yummy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:36:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks Amy! Many, though not all, of the dishes here are quite unique. Will we be seeing XIV on your blog anytime soon?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 3:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been checking out your site periodically...
Must I say, HOW do you afford all these?! $1000+ bills...!

I've been wondering that for a while, after looking at posts such as Urasawa and this restaurant. Would love to try it one day! :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Carol, the "Gamut" at XIV is $250, so split between two people, this was more like a $125pp meal. ;)

I've never spent $1,000 per person; the closest I've gotten was at Joël Robuchon.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 2:33:00 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

I must say, Carol, you are getting a little personal on the questioning of Kevin's resources. It really is none of your business where Kevin gets his bread, and I am thankful he just shares with us all of his wonderful food experiences. It is the closest we have to pornography in the food world.

Thursday, March 26, 2009 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks Evan. I actually get that question a lot!

Thursday, March 26, 2009 1:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense meant, Kevin (or Evan, in this case)! ><

And I'm glad that we have all this yummy picture postings. It makes me crave sashimi at weird hours like 2am lol

Thx a bunch Kevin ;)

PS. Apologies about the $1000+ pp lol. I totally didn't get that part when I saw the bill.

Friday, March 27, 2009 1:52:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

No worries Carol. It's 3AM here now, I wouldn't mind some sashimi right about now as well. ;)

Friday, March 27, 2009 2:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

So, I went to XIV this evening with a couple friends and wanted to bring some issues to light.

First, I guess I should note that they wouldn't let the three of us order one gamut, so instead we ordered one gamut, and the third member, who wasn't nearly as hungry, ordered the kobe burger, so it still ended up fairly well.

As for the food, I thoroughly enjoyed more than the Bazaar, and I ate in the Saam dining room while at the Bazaar, so that may be saying something. The highlights of the meal were the caviar parfait, "california lamb chop," Macallan butterscotch, and brandied bananas desserts. These four would have been a perfect meal alone! For the most part, the menu was the same since you went three months ago, however there was only three cheese courses, which was actually good for us!

Finally, the bill came and I didn't bring up the issue that I actually really observed after we had left. First of all, we ended up getting 28 courses, which could have just been two orders of the fourteen from XIV, but were charged for the gamut. I suppose this would have been fine if the menu added up to only 28 dishes, but I noticed that we were not served three courses, which were the beef carpaccio, tataki of american wagyu skirt, and prime rib eye. SO, we should have only been charged for two fourteens from XIV right? I was really just wondering what you would have done in this situation, since I suppose it is too late now, unless you think I should send an email, and please tell me if I should!

Thank you for all of your reviews, as I probably would not have gone if not for your comments, and to be perfectly clear, this was a worthwhile night out and better than Bazaar! Thanks in advance for your advice.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I guess the lesson learned is to go in even numbers if the Gamut is desired! Seriously though, I'm glad you enjoyed the food.

It's too bad that the menu hasn't changed much though. I definitely wouldn't mind doing another Gamut if I could get a 65% turnover on the courses.

I just went on XIV's web site, and it looks like there are only 29 courses on the menu now, not the 35 I had. How many were on your menu? So it was still $250 I assume?

I would be taking notes in a situation like this, so I'd be very quick to point out any missed courses. I wouldn't necessarily feel the need to email the staff, but at the same time, asking for some clarification wouldn't be out of line.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 1:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

There were some differences in the menu, and I think they may have changed the way they presented the courses that were technically the same. There were 31 courses on the menu when I went. The main reason I think we might have just gotten two of the "fourteen from XIV" is because the ordering process was confusing with our waiter trying to recommend various things, including what we actually got. So, because of this information, do you think I should email them and ask if the gamut is supposed to be the entire menu? Thanks again for your response.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

I wanted to mention a couple more things about my visit to XIV. First, I got a signed menu from Michael Mina, and didn't even know it was Mina's signature until when I got home! One more note: Their asparagus risotto tastes just like lean cuisine's cheddar potato and broccoli, but obviously with different textures. Still, that is not a good thing!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 1:49:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Ah, ok, that makes a bit more sense now. It sounds like there was some confusion and they ended up putting in two "fourteen from XIVs." However, they should've charged you only 2x$98 then. If you were billed for the entire $250, then I think that warrants a response on your part.

I'm surprised that you got Mina's signature instead of the chef de cuisine's. Was Mina in that night? He should've been out in the dining room if so.

If I recall, the risotto was a bit too cheesy for me. I should stay away from those Lean Cuisines then! ;)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

I am going to send an email. As for Mina, I believe he was in the dining room, but I am not so familiar with him, so I sadly missed out!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:45:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I have a photo with Michael at the bottom of my first post. Did you see anyone that resembles him?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 9:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

OK then, I did see him! But he was only just starting to walk around the dining when we left at around 9:00.

This was my first experience with Mina's cooking, and I look forward to trying many of his other dining establishments!

Thursday, May 28, 2009 6:28:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Well I'm glad to hear that he was actually at the restaurant! Mina has another place down in Dana Point: Stonehill Tavern.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 10:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

I will try to fit in Stonehill Tavern sometime in the future!

So, I sent the management at XIV an email with my dilemma but didn't get a response, so I called them up, and there going to send me a $50 gift card! A little less than what we were overcharged for, but I don't care, I just can't wait for when they start serving new desserts! And thanks again for the advice to respond.

Friday, May 29, 2009 8:58:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

$50 eh? Nice! Be sure to let us know how your next experience turns out.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 1:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

I loved the brandied bananas and macallan butterscotch, but I was wondering what restaurants you believed served the best desserts, and where XIV stands in that category.

Saturday, June 06, 2009 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I think I'd actually place XIV at the top in terms of dessert. Other places that come to mind are Providence and Bazaar.

Sunday, June 07, 2009 12:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

Wow, that's quite a statement! Since you mentioned Providence though, I will consider going there and getting their dessert tasting menu. Thanks for the advice!

Monday, June 08, 2009 6:16:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

If you're going to Providence, I'd definitely give the regular menu a try too!

Monday, June 08, 2009 6:21:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the two reviews on XIV. They helped us have a great time there last night.

One point you didn't mention is that on Mondays, they offer 50% off the price of any $100+ wines. That was great because we had a great Puligny Montrachet and an equally great Nuits St. George.

Having flown around the world monthly on business for many years and, typically, eaten in the best restaurants whereever, I'd pretty much given up on finding an LA restaurant that combined the great food, reasonably quiet and elegant ambiance and outstanding service I was accustomed to.

XIV gets a 10 on all counts. We had both an 8 course tasting menu and several full servings. As my wife put it, we were giddy with the excellence of the food.

Living in Laurel Canyon, we've now found our "home" restaurant in LA.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I wasn't aware of the 50% off wines Mondays. Perhaps it's a relatively new thing, but it does sound like a nice way to try some of XIV's pricier bottles. In any case, it's good to hear that you've enjoyed yourself here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 4:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

Trying to work Hatfield's on Beverly into your blog since I notice you haven't been, I must say that their chilled Santa Rosa plum soup for dessert rivaled that of XIV! Their appetizers and entrees were also good and I hope you might go there and compare it with all the other 1-star michelin guide restaurants!

Thursday, July 16, 2009 12:10:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Josh, Hatfield's is definitely one of the places I need to try out--yes, it's conspicously absent. I take it that they haven't moved to their new space yet.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 4:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

I heard from a waiter that they would be closing the current location in two months and opening up the new one in October.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 4:24:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Ah thanks for that tip. I should make it over before they move.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 9:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Joce from {Foodie Finder} said...

Hey Kevin,

I wasn't sure if the gamut was still available. The server only informed us about the 8/11/14 tasting options. Maybe I should have asked. I noticed the cocktail list was a bit different.

Also, the couple that sat next to us did a 11 course tasting and the service was a disaster. Either the food was coming too fast or they got the tables confused because a runner came by and gave them a course they already had. Luckily, it didn't affect our meal.


Monday, September 07, 2009 6:21:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks for the update Joce. I noticed that the menu is only 29 dishes now (instead of 35). If the gamut is indeed still an option, I wonder if it'd be cheaper than the original $250.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009 4:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... is very informative. The article is very professionally written. I enjoy reading every day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 7:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin! Going to check out XIV again, have only been once, soon after they opened. My expectations are somewhere in the middle, don't expect to me amazed (especially after my meal at Citronelle last week), but I hope that the food is "good enough". One of my dining friends is vegan, and they have a tasting menu, so that will be good for him. I will be back with a review...


Thursday, July 22, 2010 9:07:00 PM  
Blogger Pandalicious said...

Is it true they are closing down!?

Monday, October 11, 2010 9:49:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Where did you hear that Amy?!? I hope that's not the case.

Monday, October 11, 2010 7:58:00 PM  
Anonymous kmannens said...

I visited XIV 2 weekends ago. The current options they offer is the menu that is on their website and 3 or so off-menu items. They also offer a 6 course tasting menu for $95pp. The waiter told us the tasting menu was actually 6 different courses per person meant to share, so 12 courses in total between the both of us. The actual approach was quite interesting: the 6 times food came, it consisted of 2 identical smaller dishes (1 each) and one larger dish placed in the middle for "real" sharing.

I was very impressed with the food: top-notch ingredients, immaculate presentation and preparation from start to finish. Nothing earth-shattering innovative, but bold, focused and creative nonetheless.

Overall however, dining at XIV was not a pleasant experience. My main grievances are the ambient noise and the volume and choice of music. Admittedly, it was Saturday and there was a table of cackling geese a bit further, but even after they all left (presumably in search of procreation with the herds of douchebags down the street) the restaurant was still way to boisterous.

Music in a fine-dining restaurant should be like music during a massage: it needs to stay in the background as to not distract from the main activity. Instead, the whole evening the speakers pumped out house/dance music. Not really club-volume, but still too loud for a restaurant.

Maybe the patrons of XIV are tumultuous because, just like me, they are confused about the nature of the venue: the interior looks like my grandmother's attic, yet XIV tries to be hip and trendy. Is it a club? Is it a lounge? Is it a fine-dining establishment?

All this is very unfortunate, because these nuisances distract the attention from food that without a doubt deserves to be the star of the evening.

Pics here (had to crank up ISO quite a bit, so pretty noisy):

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Well stated Kevin. Indeed, it always seemed like XIV never knew what it was trying to be. From the looks of things, the food is a bit more serious now (versus six months ago), but the vibe still doesn't fit. Nevertheless, I wouldn't mind checking the place out again. Who are the chef and pastry chef now?

Thursday, April 21, 2011 1:23:00 AM  
Anonymous kmannens said...

Johnny Chruch is executive chef and Jordan Kahn pastry chef, I think.

On a related note, I forgot to take the menu that night and have to say that the PR team of SBE (parent group of XIV) was/is very on the ball in getting back to me and answering my questions. I was very impressed by that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011 9:04:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Definitely not Jordan Kahn. He's over at the controversial Red Medicine now. ;)

Saturday, April 23, 2011 3:11:00 AM  

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