Friday, January 19, 2024

Pasjoli (Santa Monica, CA) [3]

Pasjoli Restaurant
2732 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Fri 01/19/2024, 08:15p-10:55p

Pasjoli Exterior

If we're talking about iconic duck dishes in LA, the canard à la rouennaise at Pasjoli is definitely one that comes to mind. Unfortunately, Dave Beran's pressed duck has long eluded me, as it's a dish that must be ordered in advance, so one can't just drop in to the bistro and enjoy it. However, some friends and I recently made a concerted effort to rectify this situation.

Pasjoli Menu Pasjoli Champagne, Cocktail & Wines by the Glass List Pasjoli Wine List Pasjoli Digestif List
Shown above is Pasjoli's menu, which comprises Beran's take on elevated bistrot fare. There's also a more casual bar carte, though unfortunately, the 12-course degustation instituted last June is no longer offered. The drinks are handled by Beverage Director Matt Brodbine (Gjusta, Trois Mec), and he's put together an array of smart, French-leaning cocktails and spirits, as well as a relatively brief, exclusively French wine list that, regrettably, veers young. Corkage was $75 a bottle. Click for larger versions.

œufs mimosa
œufs mimosa [$12.00] | french deviled eggs, fried duck skin, chive
We began with the canapés section of the menu, and given my penchant for eggs in general, the oeufs mimosa were a must-try. They were pretty much flawless, and I especially enjoyed how the saltiness from the duck skin played with those lush yolks, while the whites contributed some textural variation.

daïquiri #8
daïquiri #8 [$22.00] | rhum barbancourt 4-year, pineapple, demerara
We started with a round of cocktails, and this first one was an easy-going rendition of your classic daiquiri, one that showcased rich, almost candied pineapple flavors, set against just a faint trace of rum and the egginess of that fluffy foam.

foie de poulet
foie de poulet [$26.00] | brioche filled with chicken liver mousse, shaved périgord truffle
The marriage of an earthy yet elegant chicken liver mousse and musky shavings of black truffle was pretty much a match made in heaven, with the bread serving as a great moderating element.

nouvelle vague
nouvelle vague [$24.00] | citadelle gin, dolin vermouth blanc, fey anmè, strawberry shrub
In this next cocktail ("new wave"), bittersweetness was certainly the name of the game, but commingled with assertive strawberry notes and smidges of botanicals.

gougères [$16.00] | mini gruyère cheese puffs, sauce mornay dipping sauce
Gougères came out light and airy, with a subtle saltiness from the Gruyère. They were tasty alone, but even better with a dab of that luscious Mornay.

pommes et oranges
pommes et oranges [$25.00] | rozelieures whisky, toutain calvados, dry curaçao, apple, egg white
Our third cocktail showed off an aggressive apple character, which I enjoyed, but overall, the flavors here seemed a bit muddled, and didn't come together as well as I'd hoped.

nasturtium pesto, crostini
tartare [$28.00] | dry-aged beef tartare, capers, horseradish, shallots, nasturtium pesto, crostini
Moving into the hors d'œuvres portion of the menu now, the tartar was pretty much spot-on. I was a fan of the chew on the beef, and really appreciated the piquancy offered up by both the capers and horseradish. And if that wasn't enough, the included bread was properly crisp and toasty, and came with a wonderfully zingy pesto sauce.

1998 Olivier Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
My party brought along a couple bottles, and first was the 1998 Olivier Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. The burgundy displayed a rich, concentrated nose that went in a distinctly butterscotch-like direction, with hints of honey. On the palate, the wine was smooth and uncommonly dense, with lush caramel notes abound along with mature yellow fruits, all of which spoke to the burg's tertiary characteristics.

tarte aux oignons
tarte aux oignons [$25.00] | french onion tart, gruyère cheese, fried leeks, sauce mornay
The dark, sweet flavors of onion were clearly evident here, yet the tart was still somehow dainty, with the leeks and pastry crust really lightening the mood.

tartine escargot
tartine escargot [$31.00] | burgundy snails in herb butter, roasted bone marrow, grilled country bread
Snails were a joy texturally, and conveyed that classic buttery, herby goodness I was looking for, while the frisée brightened things up. And indeed, the marrow was also on point, but the two components didn't meld as well as I'd hoped.

cordon bleu
cordon bleu [$24.00] | chicken croquettes, bayonne ham, gruyère cheese, celery salad, remoulade
A reimagined cordon bleu was calling my name. The croquettes were agreeably crisp, and did an admirable job presenting the classic dish's comfortingly cheesy, salty flavors, juxtaposed against the zestiness of those greens. I just wish that the fritters were creamier on the inside. And interestingly, this course really seemed to draw out the sweetness of the wine above.

Intact Duck Dave Beran Cutting Duck
Flambé Dave Beran Carving Duck
Duck Breast and Leg Dave Beran Pressing Duck
At this point, we were called up to an area in front of the kitchen in order to watch Chef Beran prepare Pasjoli's signature pressed duck. We witnessed him carving the bird, then using the press to prepare a sauce incorporating liquid from its carcass, flambéed with duck jus, red wine, and cognac.

canard à la presse
canard à la presse [$198.00] | whole duck for two - roasted duck breast, market lettuce salad & crispy duck skin, duck leg bread pudding, sauce of pressed duck juices, cognac, & red wine
And here we see the first presentation of that duck: the breasts, roasted to medium-rare. The bird was really done justice. I loved its depth of flavor and creeping, anatine funk, along with its crispy, flavorful skin, while the accompanying sauce offered a sophisticated sort of gaminess that really enhanced the bird's intrinsic character without ever distracting from it. It all made for an intense, heady, yet elegant presentation of the canard that has to be one of LA's most essential duck dishes.

market lettuce salad & crispy duck skin
Next up was a salad of lettuce, deeply-flavored confit duck leg, and salty bits of duck skin, dressed with a delightfully acidic duck fat-sherry vinaigrette.

duck leg bread pudding
The other leg was slow-cooked with cognac-marinated cherries, onions, and red wine, then enveloped in a bordelaise custard and country-style toast, and finally baked. The resulting bread pudding was both sweet and surprisingly light, and really showed off the heft of that confit'd duck.

1997 Gaja 'Conteisa' Nebbiolo Langhe (In Decanter) 1997 Gaja 'Conteisa' Nebbiolo Langhe
To pair with the duck, we brought along a bottle of the 1997 Gaja "Conteisa" Nebbiolo Langhe. The bouquet here was filled with herby strawberries tinged with spice. Taking a sip, I found this cool and minty at first blush, with further spices and lively tannins juxtaposed against blue fruits. We were all quite surprised at how young this tasted, so I imagine that the wine still has plenty of life left in it.

broccolini [$21.00] | roasted broccolini, brown butter & lemon sauce, roasted almonds
Stalks of broccolini were bitter and smoky, with a nice crunch to boot. Roasted almonds and fried shallots added further facets to the dish, and that meunière sauce helped tie it all together.

mérou [$61.00] | black grouper wrapped in savoy cabbage, sprouted cauliflower, purple kale, brown butter & lemon sauce
Meunière sauce made another appearance in this next dish, where it imparted buttery, citrusy nuances to a dense, hearty cylinder of delicate butter-poached grouper. However, my favorite element here was probably that cabbage, which added a lovely vegetal, bitter bent to the fish.

gratin dauphinois
gratin dauphinois [$24.00] | a gratin of potato, gruyère cheese, & cream with seasoned breadcrumbs
You generally can't go too wrong with potatoes au gratin, and indeed, the creamy, cheesy taters, perked up by a layer of crunchy crumbs, certainly satisfied.

potato purée
champignon [$58.00] | roasted maitake mushrooms, butter-poached carrots, baby carrot salad, potato purée, sauce bourguignon
Tender, feathery cuts of hen-of-the-woods were enriched by a savory mushroom bordelaise, with the root veggies providing a crucial contrast. Also working to balance out the richness of the dish was a side of Robuchon-style pomme purée, though I tend to prefer my mashed potatoes with a bit more texture.

Pasjoli Dessert Menu Pasjoli After-Dinner Drinks List
And here we see Pasjoli's dessert menu, along with the restaurant's selection of after-dinner libations. Click for larger versions.

vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce
soufflé au chocolat
soufflé au chocolat [$24.00] | bitter chocolate soufflé, vanilla ice cream, candied almonds, chocolate sauce
We enjoyed a pretty much flawless chocolate soufflé, one duly enhanced by those almonds and especially that vanilla ice cream.

gâteau opéra
gâteau opéra [$19.00] | vanilla & passion fruit cake, white chocolate ganache, passion fruit curd, crispy chocolate, mint
The opera cake also delivered thanks to its bang-on layers of saturated sponge and ganache, tarted up by a very tropical, nearly funky passion fruit curd.

We came here mainly for the duck, and it did not disappoint, nor did the rest of the food. Pasjoli is a thoughtful rendition of an upscale bistro, and one of the best French spots in Los Angeles, so it's a real shame that the place lost its Michelin star back at the end of 2022. As for Beran's next move, he's working on a follow-up to Dialogue, his high-end tasting menu place that closed back in November 2020. The still-unnamed restaurant is reportedly debuting this year at 3110 Main Street in SaMo, so that's definitely something to be on the lookout for.

Karuizawa Ruby Geisha 34 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Prior to our dinner, we tasted a sample of the Karuizawa Ruby Geisha 34 Year Old, a Japanese single malt whisky that was matured in a single sherry butt. The nose here was quite appealing, teeming with woodsy spices and dark fruits. In terms of taste, think sherry-soaked oak combined with astringent, medicinal spices, with dark fruits appearing on the mid-palate. We then had the whisky with three drops of water added, which seemed to give the spirit a noticeably more candied character. This was my first time having a whisky from Karuizawa, and while I certainly enjoyed it, I can safely say that I won't be paying the $35,000+ that retailers are asking for a bottle.


Blogger H.Peter said...

Amazing presentation.
I wonder what's with the name though?
He should have named it Tres Joli!

Thursday, March 28, 2024 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Ah, I actually mentioned the reasoning behind the restaurant's name in my first Pasjoli dining report:

"Named Pasjoli because it's not Jolie (Jolie being the original name of what became Dialogue)"

Tuesday, April 02, 2024 5:59:00 AM  
Blogger H.Peter said...

Oh. I did not go back to that post

Tuesday, April 02, 2024 6:02:00 AM  

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