Monday, July 01, 2013

Flores (Los Angeles, CA)

Flores Restaurant
2024 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Mon 07/01/2013, 08:15p-11:00p

Flores Exterior

The latest addition to the burgeoning Little Osaka dining scene opened on June 11th in the old Sawtelle Kitchen space. Flores is the work of Stanford grad and home accessory designer Amal Flores, who constructed the restaurant in the building that, decades before, was home to Greenson Gallery, where his sculptor father Gene Flores exhibited back in 1969. The kitchen here is run by the husband-and-wife team of Rob Lawson (Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Gordon Ramsay) and Angela Hernandez (The Bazaar, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Corton). Also on board is Spaniard Cesar Bermundez Cifuentes, who comes to us from Barcelona and handles Pastry Chef duties. The front-of-the-house, meanwhile, is headed by General Manager and San Francisco native Dagny Mendelsohn (Macao Trading Company, Employees Only, Bar 11, Schiller's, Pastis, all in NYC), while Serge Milenkovic (RivaBella, Little Dom's) helms the beverage program.

Flores Dinner Menu Flores Wine & Beer Menu Flores Wine List
Flores' menu emphasizes the modern rustic mantra that's all the rage these days, but the plates seem to exude a bit ambition than the norm. As far as the drinks go, you'll find a reasonably-priced wine list assembled by Milenkovic, along with a smattering of beers as well. In the future, look out for breakfast, lunch, and even brunch options. Click for larger versions.

Carletto Prosecco NV
We wanted to start with something fun and fizzy, and thus went for a bottle of the Carletto Prosecco NV [$29]. It was a lightweight sparkler: crisp, acidic, and effervescent, with a sweet, apple-y character to it and a slightly boozy backbone.

Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs [$6.00] | crispy pig ear, pimenton
Being the egg floozy that I am, these were a no brainer, and as tasty as I'd imagined. The egg was clearly the hero, but I loved the hit of salt added by the crunchy bits of pig here, as well as how the paprika imparted an undercurrent of spice to the dish.

Pig Cheek Croquetas
Pig Cheek Croquetas [$10.00] | seaweed aioli
Pork was also used to good effect here, with the croquettes coming out crisp-creamy and undeniably piggy, nicely tempered by the tangy taste of those pickles.

Ocean Trout Crudo
Ocean Trout Crudo [$14.00] | lemon and crème fraiche
A crudo of trout was excellent, with the supple, yet substantial fish really coming to the fore, positively imbued with a fantastic, lingering smokiness and brine that paired swimmingly with the classic flavors of crème fraîche and dill.

Kanpachi Ceviche
Kanpachi Ceviche [$14.00] | young thai coconut, lime, grapefruit
The amberjack ceviche was similarly superb, with the fish forming a great base on which to really enjoy the bright, aromatic, Asian-y flavors at play. You probably want to get this.

Tokyo Turnips
Tokyo Turnips [$8.00] | wakame butter
Tokyo turnips were crunchy and juicy, with a mild, vegetal relish that made sense with the savory, umami-laden butter.

Fresh Naps
Fresh Naps, just in case we got our hands dirty with the next course.

Grilled Prawns
Grilled Prawns [$16.00] | cajun spice, lemon aioli
Prawns were lovely, thoroughly cooked, yet not overdone, with a delightful char to go along with their inherent sweetness. I loved the Cajun seasonings here as well, which managed to complement the shrimp without dominating it. Great exclamation point from the lemon, too.

Chicken Liver Bruschette
Chicken Liver Bruschette [$12.00] | beetroot, cherries, bacon
The bruschetta was on point as well, with a deft balance between sweet and liver-y flavors interjected by salty pricks of goodness from the bacon. I really appreciated the juiciness of the cherries here to boot.

Clos de Gilroy, Grenache, Central Coast 2012
For our heartier courses, we ended up opting for the Clos de Gilroy, Grenache, Central Coast 2012 [$39]. I quite liked this one, finding it a very drinkable, velvety example of Grenache, spicy and herby at first, with a juicy smack of berry fruit coming in later. Yum.

Broccolini [$9.00] | garlic, chile, lemon
Moving on to the righthand side of the menu now, we began with the broccolini, which was rather nice. What struck me here was the sheer smokiness of the vegetable, which lingered long on the palate, tempered by the zestiness of lemon and a subtle veil of heat from the chile.

Meatballs [$13.00] | tomato, olive, mint
Meatballs were classic in essence: meaty, straightforwardly satisfying spheres underscored by a delicate touch of minty levity. Particularly enjoyable when taken with the included bread.

Poach Egg & Stewed Beans
Poach Egg & Stewed Beans [$13.00] | smoked ham hock
Next up was the dish formerly known as Texas caviar. I say "formerly," as the restaurant was forced to change the name because customers were ordering it expecting actual fish roe. In any case, it was a commendable version of the American Southern specialty, with the beans conveying a nice weight to them, balanced by the bright, tangy flavors in the course, all while the ham added a backbone of saltiness to the mix. You can't go wrong with that poached egg, either. My only complaint here was that the accompanying bread was overly chewy.

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich
Soft Shell Crab Sandwich [$15.00] | avocado, green tomato, brioche
I had some trepidations about the soft shell crab, but the kitchen worked it out here. The SSC itself was actually surprisingly tasty, properly crispy with nice depth of flavor to it that paired well with the various accoutrements, the sweetish brioche roll especially. Lovely tangy counterpoint from the okra, too.

Hanger Steak pomme puree
Hanger Steak [$24.00] | pomme puree, smoked beef fat jus
The hanger was a prototypical example of the steak, with the meat coming out not particularly tender, but loaded with deep, smoky nuances and a nice crust. I liked how its flavors were augmented by the jus here, as well as the crunch and bitterness of the radicchio, but the onions were a touch sweet for me. The pommes puree, meanwhile, was pretty much spot on, a laudable representation of the dish that just worked beautifully with the steak.

Flores Dessert Menu
Above, we see Cifuentes' dessert menu, short but sweet. Click for a larger version.

Blackberry Cobbler
Blackberry Cobbler [$8.00] | creme fraiche ice cream, maple syrup
Cifuentes' cobbler was a worthy effort from someone's who'd never made one prior to this. It was exactly what you'd expect: hot, sweet, and fruity, with the crumbly crust moderating everything, all while the ice cream contributed a modicum of lightness to the dessert.

Strawberries [$12.00] | vinegar caramel, yogurt espuma
Strawberries, meanwhile, were pretty amazing, some of the sweetest I've had in fact, their natural flavor enhanced by the sugary swipes of caramel in the bowl, with the yogurt serving as the perfect foil.

Lemon Posset
Lemon Posset [$10.00] | almond, cognac
A posset of lemon was similarly delicious, with the sourness of the lemon faultlessly paired with the dessert's sweet, boozy notes. Utterly refreshing, with some great textures, too.

Chocolate & Olive Oil
Chocolate & Olive Oil [$10.00] | citrus, lemon marshmallow
Chocolate and citrus were married here in commendable fashion, with the olive oil really showing through as a savory component, underscoring the entire dish. A smart exploration of sweet and salty coming together.

Banana Ice Cream
Banana Ice Cream [$3.00]
We had to try one of Flores' housemade ice creams, and ended up with banana. It was a great choice, with the dessert really displaying the pure, unmitigated essence of the fruit. If that wasn't enough, the sweet, cinnamon-y crumbles here worked as a perfect complement. Delish.

Hernandez and Lawson have aimed pretty high with their cooking here, and have hit the mark almost completely. The duo seems to touch upon all the notes that are so prevalent in the LA culinary landscape these days, presenting a menu that's approachable and unfussy, farm-to-table and whatnot, yet have done so with a certain finesse, a certain panache that elevates their cuisine above the norm. I came away from dinner quite satisfied indeed, and am curious to see where the team takes it from here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ive had some dark chocolate olive oil desserts. pretty amazing

Sunday, July 07, 2013 8:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Bun Boy said...

I pretty much love the look of everything you ate!

Monday, July 08, 2013 9:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jennie-Jen said...

was just in over the weekend. Everything was delicious, so wonderful. Once I read your review of who the chefs were, made sense. They open for lunch starting this week I believe. Can't wait to return. Enjoyed the post. Thxs.

Monday, July 08, 2013 4:24:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Jieying: They can be. Olive oil cakes in generally, actually.

BB: The lighting certainly played a part. ;)

Jenny: Just saw your post on this. Glad you enjoyed it too.

Friday, July 12, 2013 3:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you have your usual mojito before the bubbly or after?

Friday, July 12, 2013 8:09:00 PM  

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