Monday, February 06, 2012

Cliff's Edge (Los Angeles, CA)

Cliff's Edge Restaurant
3626 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Mon 02/06/2012, 07:25p-10:10p

Ever since decamping from Fraiche in July last year, Benjamin Bailly has kept a low profile, working as a private chef for a family in Beverly Hills. However, he recently reappeared on the City's dining radar, popping up at Cliff's Edge, a Silver Lake restaurant owned by Dana Hollister (4100 Bar, Brite Spot, One-Eyed Gypsy, Villains Tavern), Pierre Casanova (Café Des Artistes, Les Deux Cafe, Little Door), and Keith Greco that debuted in 2004. He's been there since January 3rd, and has already overhauled much of the once staid menu, replacing it with his selection of Mediterranean/French-inflected plates.

Cliff's Outdoor Seating
Cliff's Edge Interior
Anchored by a giant, meandering tree, the outside dining patio is quite a sight to behold, seemingly inspired by the likes of Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure. The inside, known as The Bar at Cliff's, shares a similar design vernacular, and was recently renovated in rustic fashion by Dana Hollister, with its reclaimed wood, vintage Moroccan tiles, and antique lighting overhead.

Cliff's Edge Menu Cliff's Edge Wine List Cliff's Edge Cocktail List
The menu at Cliff's Edge features Bailly's take on rustic Med-French fare. To drink, think reasonably-priced wines and a selection of cocktails by barmen Richard Swan and Dan Thompson (replacing Seven Grand's Dave Whitton). Click for larger versions.

Bread and Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar
Bread was rather lovely, tasty alone and even better when perked up by a dab of olive oil and balsamic.

Bee's Knees
Bee's Knees [$9.00] | Plymouth gin, honey syrup and fresh lemon juice, on the rocks with grapefruit oils
I began with the Bee's Knees, a Prohibition era cocktail that deftly played the sweet and sour flavors of the honey and citrus over the bracing, astringent nature of the gin. Quite nice.

Smoked Trout Rillettes
Smoked Trout Rillettes [$8.00] | Lemon, Chives, Crème Fraîche
I'm a sucker for rillettes, so this was a must try. It was exactly what the docteur ordered: rich, creamy, and smoke-tinged, with pricks of piquancy from the chives and lemon, wonderful over crisp points of toast. Very nice.

Pickled Cauliflower
Pickled Cauliflower [$8.00] | Castelvetrano Olives, Marcona Almonds
Picked cauliflower was exactly what its name implied. What I liked even better, though, was the nutty crunch of the Marconas.

Chickpea Fritters
Chickpea Fritters [$6.00] | Rosemary, Lemon Aïoli
"Logs" of chickpea were hot, hearty, and savory, slightly fluffy on the inside yet with a nice, satisfying crust. The fritters were pretty hefty alone, so the tangy aioli pairing was key.

Chicken Liver Crostini
Chicken Liver Crostini [$8.00] | Apricot Mostarda, Herb Salad
Chicken liver wasn't quite was successful unfortunately. I thought the liver came off overly intense, requiring of some more balance to the dish. In addition, the apricot didn't quite jive with my palate, though I did appreciate the herb salad. I also found the toast itself too crunchy.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Brussels Sprouts [$9.00] | Anchovy, Capers, Parmesan
The Chef sent out a bowl of Brussels sprouts, which was one of the highlights of the meal. I loved how the inherent bitterness of the veggie was so deftly conveyed here. Joined by the intense flavors of anchovy and capers, it proudly stood its ground, forming a superb amalgam of disparate flavors that was beautifully tied together by a veil of Parmesan cheese. One of the strongest presentations of Brussels sprouts that I've had in a while.

Bitter Pill
Bitter Pill [$9.00] | Zaya 12 year rum and Fernet Branca with brown sugar, fresh squeezed lime juice and egg whites; on the rocks with orange oils
The Bitter Pill, meanwhile, was somewhat hard to swallow. The interplay between the bitter, spicy flavors of the Fernet and the sugar didn't work for me, and coupled with the tartness of lime, the whole commixture just tasted a touch disconcerting.

Albacore Ceviche
Albacore Ceviche [$15.00] | Lime, Red Onion, Green Apple, Cilantro
Perhaps I've been spoiled by the likes of Picca, but I wasn't too enthused with the ceviche. The fish just seemed too monolithic, with only the apple providing a point of interest; I wanted more crunch, more herbaceousness, more zing, more heat from the course.

Crispy Polenta
Crispy Polenta [$15.00] | Mushrooms, Sunny Egg, Pecorino Romano
Polenta, mushrooms, soft egg, and cheese--hard to go too wrong with these ingredients. And indeed, this was arguably the most satisfying dish of the evening, with the heady, earthy essence of the 'shrooms pairing perfectly with the Pecorino and lush, runny egg, all while the polenta cake served to moderate the dish.

Seared Scallops
Seared Scallops [$16.00] | Lebne, Cauliflower, Vadouvan, Salsa Verde
Another gift from the Chef, scallops arrived perfectly cooked--a touch rare on the inside, but with a wonderfully caramelized crust. The coquilles Saint-Jacques were certainly tasty on their alone, and I also appreciated the curry-laced flavor imparted by the vadouvan. However, the labneh-salsa combo I found a tad too sour.

Skate Wing
Skate Wing [$24.00] | Sunchokes, Brown Butter, Pine Nut, Lemon, Capers
This is Chef Bailly's favorite dish on the menu, and I can see why. The fish was cooked to a falling-apart tender consistency, and showed off a slightly sweet flavor expertly augmented by the use of brown butter. The combination of lemon and caper served to counterbalance the heft of the skate, while the pine nut added a somewhat crunchy element to the dish.

Cornish Hen
Cornish Hen [$24.00] | Farro, Black Rice, Pancetta, Currant, Escarole
Next up was the Cornish game hen, one of the high points of our meal. Quite simply, I found the bird tender, succulent, and brimming with flavor, amped up even further by the salty bits of pancetta included. It went wonderfully with the combination of farro "risotto," black rice, and bitter strips of endive.

Pork Belly
Pork Belly [$23.00] | Gigante Bean, Chorizo, Piquillo Sofrito
Our last savory course of the evening brought us a hefty slab of pork belly. The pig itself was nicely cooked, and suitably fatty, with an effective counterpoint in the form of those gigante beans and the herb salad. Furthermore, the piquillo provided a spicy sweet contrast to the dish, but I wasn't as keen on the chorizo, which tended to overpower the natural flavor of the pork.

Gianduja Budino
Gianduja Budino [$9.00]
Bailly gets aboard the budino bandwagon with his gianduja (a mixture of chocolate and hazelnut paste) version. It was marvelous, a rich, lip-smacking mix of sweet, nutty flavors, intermingled with crunchy bits of hazelnut. The whole eating experience reminded me of a Ferrero Rocher!

I'd never even heard of Cliff's Edge before last month, but Ben Bailly is undoubtedly bringing some pizzazz and excitement to this otherwise under-the-radar Silver Lake eatery. His cooking is not as quite polished as what he presented at Fraiche or Petrossian, but it's getting there. It'll definitely be interesting to see how the restaurant evolves in the coming months.


Anonymous Darin said...

I've been wondering when we'd see someone post on Cliff's Edge. Looks like an interesting meal...perhaps I'll wait a bit to let the kitchen work out any remaining kinks.

Monday, February 20, 2012 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger Rodzilla said...

I've never heard of this place, but the design looks pretty cool and I like that they have a flickr page on their site.

While the menu looks decent, there's nothing that intrigues me enough to visit over comparable places around LA - but maybe they're looking to be more of a solid choice rather than a destination spot.

Monday, February 20, 2012 11:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darin, this place has been around for a little bit. I went here a few months ago with some friends. Rodzilla, you're correct on your assumption. The food was good, but nothing stood out. I actually thought the aesthetic and atmosphere was quite pleasant. Nice, romantic spot for a couple on date night. Honestly, first reaction when i saw this, out of all the new restaurants popping up, I'm a little surprised that kevinEats choose this one to write a review.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 2:50:00 PM  
Blogger Nomsnotbombs said...

Thanks for keeping us posted on Chef Ben's new gig! I've never been to Cliff's Edge before, but those brussels sprouts and pork belly are calling to me!

Thursday, February 23, 2012 4:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Marian said...

I didn't know about Cliff's Edge until Ben went over there either. It's a gorgeous venue and I love that patio.

The crispy polenta was my favorite dish as well. I agree with the other people saying it's not necessarily a "destination restaurant" but it's definitely a warm and cozy venue with solid food.

Thursday, February 23, 2012 6:04:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Darin: I'm actually surprised that I was the first to report on Cliff's, given our historic fascination with Chef Bailly.

Roddy: A fair assessment. Are you in SD yet?

Anon: See previous comment to Darin. People were all over Chef Bailly during his stints at Petrossian and Fraiche, so I figured that readers might be interested to see where he landed.

Misty: I don't think many of us had heard of the place before Ben! Go with the sprouts. ;)

Marian: I didn't know that you actually dined here. Did you ask Chef Ben about participating this year?

Thursday, February 23, 2012 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Marian said...

Yup I dined there during Dine LA. I talked to Ben about it and he said he was interested. I haven't followed up since though.

Friday, February 24, 2012 4:16:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Alright got it, do you want me to do it then?

Friday, March 02, 2012 3:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What other romantic date night restaurants would you recommend? Not dating but , going back out after 24 years of marriage. Gotta try new places or even old ones. Dont need babysitters anymore so I am determined to go out more.

Friday, April 13, 2012 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I'm not much into the romantic myself, but Melisse, Providence, The Royce, Scarpetta, Spago, and Valentino come to mind.

Saturday, April 14, 2012 5:28:00 PM  

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