Thursday, June 25, 2015

Osso (Los Angeles, CA)

Osso Restaurant
901 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Thu 06/25/2015, 08:00p-10:55p

Osso Exterior

Dana Hollister's Arts District bar One-Eyed Gypsy closed back in April of last year, and in its place comes Osso (Italian for "bone"), a much more food-focused place that opened at the end of May. Hollister's still on board though, and she's brought on her Cliff's Edge partner Pierre Casanova as well as two ex-New Yorkers to run the day-to-day.

The FOH is handled by Ami Lourie, a former GM at Cliff's Edge who previously worked for Mario Batali in NYC. He also served as General Manager at David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar, and met Chef Nick Montgomery while the two were at Momofuku Ssam Bar. Alabama native Montgomery, for his part, cooked at Montmartre, The Brooklyn Star, and Momofuku in New York, and also worked a stint at Paul Kahan's Blackbird in Chicago.

Osso Interior
The old home of The One-Eyed Gypsy (and before that, Bordello) has been stripped down to the basics, allowing for an open, very dimly-lit 45-seat dining room.

Osso Menu Osso Cocktail & Beer List Osso Wine List
Osso's menu is refreshingly compact, featuring a small selection of cheffy American classics with a Southern edge. To drink, you get a reasonable beer list and a handful of wines chosen by Lourie and John Koehnen of Revel Wines. However, the main draw is the cocktail program, crafted here by Darwin Manahan, the current GM/Beverage Director at Cliff's Edge whom many of us likely know from his work at Eduardo Ruiz's Corazon y Miel/Picnik/Punch. Click for larger versions.

Hola Chingon
Hola Chingon [$12.00] | cimarron tequila blanco, lime, blueberry cordial, bubbly wine
We ended up getting all of the cocktails tonight, and started with Manahan's ode to the Adios Motherfucker. It was of course more refined than its inspiration, the fruitiness of blueberry front and center, balanced by the tartness of lime while Angostura gave the drink a bitterness toward the middle. Underpinning it all was a subtle agave-laced booziness from the tequila.

Beef Biltong Jerky
Beef Biltong Jerky [$7.00]
Our first snack was this take on South African-style biltong cured-dried meat. Resembling slivers of steak, its showed off a super-concentrated beefiness and spice, along with a relatively moist, chewy consistency with a distinct fattiness. Very cool.

Lil' Jon's Sausage
Lil' Jon's Sausage [$6.00]
Speaking of jerky, an homage to the ubiquitous Slim Jim was up next. It was a worthy approximation of the original, a little less snappy, but with a deeper savor and an appropriate amount of spicing.

East 180
East 180 [$12.00] | benesin mezcal, honey, mandarin, lime, bee pollen
Every craft cocktail list seems to have a mezcal option these days, and Osso's was a good example of such. Aromatics of honey commingled with smoke on the nose, while on the palate, you had the sweetness of mandarin and the woodiness of mezcal, the pollen adding a great finish to the drink.

Onion Rings
Onion Rings [$6.00]
Onion rings were lightly battered and crisp, with the sweetness of the veggie really shining through. Tasty alone, and even better with a dab of that creamy, spicy sauce on the side.

Hamachi Crudo
Hamachi Crudo [$13.00] | pho broth, thai basil, crispy shallots
The yellowtail was a standout, the clean cuts of fish beautifully matched with the pho-inspired broth and its considerable depth and bright, herby aromatics. Nice crunch and savor from the shallots, too.

Padre [$12.00] | ford's gin, kalamansi fruit and leaf, lemon
Here, Manahan referenced his Filipino heritage, giving us a cocktail that really showcased the nature of calamansi. I found it super refreshing, with boatloads of sweet citrus fruit in-yo-face, tempered by the sourness of lemon.

Foie Gras Torchon
Foie Gras Torchon [$17.00] | Soo_n Food's peach and thyme jam
Foie gras did a nice job conveying its delicate, earthy essence, with subdued notes of liver complemented by the sugariness of the jam while toast offered up a crunchy, moderating counterpoint. However, I would've liked a smoother, creamier texture on the torchon.

Patty Melt
Patty Melt [$13.00] | rye-bread, caramelized onions, swiss, cheddar
The patty melt was on point, and certainly one of the best I've had, its massive amounts of deep, bovine savor matched with the heady sweetness of caramelized onion while the duo of cheeses worked to tie it all together.

Corrador [$12.00] | claro rum, cynar, campari, saffron bitters
Our next cocktail definitely veered toward the boozier side. Think bittersweet on the nose, with the Campari really making itself known on the palate, joined by the vegetal notes of Cynar while saffron gave things a nice close.

Hot Sauces
potato salad
Fried Chicken (half)
Fried Chicken (half) [$18.00] | potato salad
The fried chicken was a must-try of course, and came out super crispy and super moist, with a slight spice to it. Interestingly, I think I actually preferred the breast portion, which managed to be one of the juiciest I've had. The bird came with your choice of hot sauce to further enhance the experience (we opted for sambal and Frank's), while the accompanying potato salad was spot on in its tanginess as well.

Pork & Chicken Liver Paté
Pork & Chicken Liver Paté [$10.00] | bacon, pecan, mustard
A sort of pâté de campagne delivered, a gritty, rustic preparation with its pork-y and liver-y flavors accented by the nuttiness of pecan while the mustard added the requisite amount of zip.

Portola [$12.00] | bourbon, castor sugar, honey candle wax, angostura bitters, orange bitters
I don't think I'd ever encountered candle wax in a cocktail before, but the ingredient was certainly put to good use here. It lent a honeyed, almost candied bouquet to the drink, which worked swimmingly with the sweet, boozy, citrusy base of Old Fashioned flavors.

Chilled Wax Beans
Chilled Wax Beans [$10.00] | dill kefir, candid almond, smoked-cured yolk
My favorite course of the night was likely the string beans. You got all the crunchy, waxy textures and bright flavors that you'd expect, tied together by the creaminess of dill-infused kefir while the egg yolk imparted a wonderful smoke to the dish. Nice nuttiness from almonds to boot, and very thoughtful overall.

Smoked Yellowtail Toast
Smoked Yellowtail Toast [$9.00] | miso, togarashi, pickled turnip
Yellowtail made another appearance, this time warm, with its fishy, briny qualities commixed with a lovely touch of smoke and a spicy accent from the togarashi.

Beaverdusa Punch
Beaverdusa Punch [$12.00] | bourbon, scotch, rye, gold sencha tea, st. germain, lemon, oleo-saccharum
The last cocktail on the list was probably my favorite of the bunch. I loved its tea-like qualities and multifaceted presentation of sweet, floral nuances, matched by the sharp spice of peppercorn, clove, and allspice.

Cavatelli [$13.00] | chicken jus, fermented garlic, oyster mushroom
Cavatelli arrived well-textured, a fitting base for the salty, earthy qualities of the mushrooms, though I didn't get much from the black garlic. Nice textural component from what I believe were breadcrumbs too.

Pork Chop
Pork Chop [$17.00] | wheat berries, nectarine, summer squash
Our final savory, the pork chop arrived tender and toothsome, teeming with massive amounts of salt, savor, and smoke. I definitely appreciated the balance and texture provided by the wheatberries and squash here, but the crux for me was that stone fruit, which gave up a juicy sweetness that really evened out the meat.

Thrilla from Manila
Thrilla from Manila | rum, honey infusion, pink peppercorn and pineapple simple syrup, mandarin, mint
Cocktails tonight were executed by bartender Jodi Mae Calderon, and she ended up crafting this off-menu special at our request. Likened to an Asian-inflected Smash, the drink seriously recalled the light, fruity sweetness of Capri Sun initially, but this then gave way to the booziness of rum and a wonderful spice from the peppercorn on the close.

Apple Crostata Streudel (Chocolate)
Coconut Buttercake Linzer (Raspberry)
Osso, unfortunately, doesn't do dessert currently, so we ended up busting out some sweets that we happened to have handy from San Diego's Extraordinary Desserts.

Chicha Niña
Chicha Niña
We closed with another off-menu drink, a more dessert-y concoction based off the Peruvian beverage chicha morada. It hit the mark as well, with a sweet-tart, floral, fruity character to it moderated by a bitter spice and the lushness of that froth.

Bill & Brittle
Accompanying the bill was some delightfully nutty-sweet brittle.

I left pleasantly surprised with Osso. The food's basically modernized, elevated comfort fare, but there's a palpable finesse at work here that I definitely appreciated. The cocktail program, meanwhile, was pretty much spot on to boot, so I hope to see this place stick around, and see Montgomery keeping pushing with the menu.


Anonymous jesus said...

Bovine savor. You've outdone yourself.

Monday, August 31, 2015 2:36:00 PM  
Blogger Micah Zehnder said...

I think it's worth commenting on the picture of the patty melt that your picture is of two patty melts at Osso, not a single one.

With everything else I felt portions were fine, but the patty felt felt somehow really small for the price. I also didn't get very much flavor from the cheeses when I was there, and found the onion jam didn't hold up to simple grilled onions. It could've used a pickle element to make it snap like a classic patty melt.

I'm surprised you didn't like the cavatelli more though, that was a huge sleeper hit for me at this place, though the black garlic was more present in my version. I suppose they may have worked out the kinks since your visit, which I take was right at their opening. For example, they have put the Chicha Niña on the regular cocktail menu now!

Overall, it's a solid place that could be more experimental. The wax beans and cavatelli seemed like the best things to me, despite the hype being around the patty melt and fried chicken. Would be nice to see them make their own hot sauce to go with the chicken.

The cocktails being only $12 makes this place a standout in all of LA though, as they would easily be priced at $14++ anywhere else in town. Hopefully they cultivate a crowd and stick around!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 10:22:00 PM  

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