Spago, Beverly Hills
September 28, 2011 2 Comments
Anthony Bourdain, somewhere in his book The Nasty Bits, talks about how when he and other chefs play the last meal on death row game, 15 million course full gustation menus don’t come up in the conversation. Instead, chefs reminisce about something their mothers made, the simplest, most comforting pastas, or prime cuts of sashimi. For our third anniversary (back in August) Stephen took me to Spago to try their tasting menu. While I think Bourdain’s point about how complexity of cuisine does not necessarily translate to the food people crave or seek out for comfort, my meal at Spago exemplifies complexity done well so that each morsel is so interesting, delicious, and well-composed, that each bite truly feels like it could be “the last bite.” And when the whole dish is well, one bite, you instinctively let the flavors mingle and meld in your mouth.
Seeing that I ate here over a month ago and did not have the foresight to write down everything our wonderful waiter said about each course, there will be less detail about each flavor profile. However, I hope you get a sense of how wonderful, fun, and enjoyable our anniversary dinner was.
We had requested a “well-lit table” for photography purposes. Consequently, we sat outdoors and had a beautiful view of the intimate courtyard in the restaurant. I really liked how quirky the chairs were, in case you can’t really tell, they have fish and a swirly motif that is supposed to represent a fire. Together, according to our waiter, these represent the joy of cooking for the chefs.
Though our waiter was slightly confused about the tasting menu, he promptly resolved the miscommunication with the kitchen and our menus were whisked away. I think we did not realize that perhaps Spago does not offer a tasting menu on Fridays and Saturdays due to high traffic. Either way, we were thrilled when he came back and allowed us to do a five-course tasting.
This was the smoked salmon on lemon-scented blini. Stephen and I loved it. The creaminess and the tang really enhanced the buttery smoked salmon and the extra bite from onions and chives was delicious. We wished we each had like, five more.
Oh my, this amuse was ridiculous. Bacon confit in a little pastry housing. It came out to us freshly baked, and the bacon inside was rich, salty, and creamy. Again, we wished we could eat about three more.
Beautiful tomato sorbet to cleanse the palate. Stephen was a bit surprised at all the tomato things, but we enjoyed it all the same.
This was an heirloom tomato salad, with avocado, lavender, some cheese, onions, etc. It was really fun to taste different tomatoes with different flavors and see it all play together well. The avocado one was our favorite (no surprise there).
This dish was nothing short of incredible. The thin slices of truffles melted in my mouth along with the cheese-filled, eggy pasta. Rich, but portioned perfectly, Stephen and I really loved this.
Next was this pretty, assymetrical plate of lamb. Interestingly, each piece was a different cut of lamb and had a different texture. All pieces were unbelievably tender.
Dessert was this strawberry mille-feuille with a raspberry sorbet. A thoughtful ending to a well-balanced meal. I was relieved that it was not a heavy, chocolatey confection.
Despite the brevity of my commentary, I hope that the spirit and the substance of the meal was conveyed. I wanted to especially note that the service at Spago was top-notch. Stephen did not realize that the bill had already included a gratuity and had tipped accordingly. We had already left the restaurant and walked about half a block when our waiter, Rafael, while running, flagged us down informing us that the extra gratuity was not necessary. His integrity was impressive and a testament to the emphasis on quality at Spago. In fact, Rafael and Robert (another member of the waitstaff while we dined there) were both wonderful.
I hope to return to Spago soon and hopefully next time, we don’t confuse their waiters on a busy Friday night!
176 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310 385 0880