My Last Call at Michael Voltaggio’s ink

My Last Call at Michael Voltaggio’s ink

 

There was so much anticipation back in 2011 when it was announced that the new winner of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” Michael Voltaggio was opening his first restaurant on Melrose Avenue.  When it finally opened in September 2011, I dined there at least 3 times in the month of October, with 3 different groups of friends, and we all admired and enjoyed his style of cuisine, utilizing molecular gastronomy and new techniques (he was a fan of utilizing ash in his dishes).

Since then ink had switched over from serving shareable plates to a multi-course tasting menu.  After a couple of years of each format, ink went back to an a la carte format with a focus on being a steakhouse, offering dry aged Flannery California Reserve Holstein steaks.  However, in the last few years, I was distracted by the likes of n/naka and Maude.

Now that I’ve cut back at dining at such higher end places, I was able to consider dining at ink to find out how the food and the offerings have changed over the years, but with the announcement of Voltaggio closing ink after Sunday’s dinner service (July 31st), and opening ink.well soon thereafter on La Cienega in West Hollywood, I decided to make an impromptu stop for dinner last night and took advantage of the DineLA 4-course Caviar Tasting Menu for $95.00.

However, after seeing the Foie Gras Shavings on the regular menu, and being such a lover of foie gras, I added it as a starter before the 4-course tasting, and I was glad I did.  The foie was creamy and unctuous.

The Caviar Tasting Menu  was lovely, especially the first 2 courses: Smoked Mozzarella and Egg Yolk Gnocchi.  The ball of mozarella was wrapped with a layer of leek gel on the outside, creating a bit of whimsy as one had to break through the layer of get to tender and smokey mozzarella.  The gnocchi  looked like little cylinders of pasta encapsulating creamy egg yolk inside.  Then end result reminded me of a play on mac n’ cheese, with add saltiness from the trout roe.  Both of these dishes were delicious and surprisingly filling.

While I enjoyed dry aged Holstein filet, I didn’t think there was enough “cheesy caviar” to add to the dish.  While the filet was tender and well seasoned, the zucchini strips were a stand out as well.  A side of seaweed mashed potatoes was served with the filet.

Out of curiosity, I added a side of the Carolina Gold Rice as well.  Whoops, too much carbs!  Since I never had it before, it was a treat tasting Voltaggio’s version of it, with the creaminess of the cheese contrasting the airiness and crunchiness of the crispy rice, it was definitely a few bites of fun in my mouth.

Dinner ended with the Caramelized White Chocolate course, which was a nice scoop of rich, sweet, butteriness that was offset by the saltiness of the caviar.  Incorporating the aerated blinis and frozen pieces of creme fraiche into one bite with the white chocolate, my mind kept telling me I’m having a deconstructed cupcake.  That’s what my mind was telling me.  It was a wonderful tasting experience, and I guess a good way to reacclimate myself with Voltaggio’s style of cooking before ink closes, and he moves on to ink well.

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FOIE GRAS SHAVINGS, hazelnut butter, radishes, smoked sea salt, pumpernickel

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SMOKED MOZZARELLA, vichyssoise, leek-lime, Shasestra caviar, purple potato chips
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SMOKED MOZZARELLA
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Close up of the Smoked Mozzarella wrapped by a leek-lime gel and topped with Shasestra caviar.
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EGG YOLK GNOCCHI, trout roe, pickled onion rings, lox toppings, micro croutons
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Close up of the Egg Yolk Gnocchi
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AGED HOLSTEIN (FILET) STEAK, cheesy caviar, zucchini
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Close up look of the Dry Aged Holstein Filet
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SEAWEED MASHED POTATOES that came as a side with the filet.
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CAROLINA GOLD RICE, local milk and freeze-dried Fiscalini cheddar cheese
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CARAMELIZED WHITE CHOCOLATE, classic Shesastra caviar, aerated blini, creme fraiche

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DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Patina in DTLA

DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Patina in DTLA

In April of this year, Andreas Roller took over the reigns as executive chef, and with a $49 3-course dinner offered by Patina during DineLA Restaurant Week, it was a perfect venue to be able to sample Chef Roller’s cooking.

Service here was impeccable, and our server was sweet and vivacious.  She took the time to go discuss about the different types of tasting menus and beverage menus they have.

We ordered the DineLA menu (pictured below), and I added the shaved summer truffles ($20 supplement) to my Brentwood Corn Agnolotti.  Tasty, though the bold sweet flavor of the corn seemed to have masked some of the delicate flavors of the summer black truffles.

The dishes were delicious, with the Squid Ink Pasta being the stand out.  The texture of the pasta was on the softer, yet firm side.  It was well tossed in a delicate sauce made with uni and bottarga.  Very unctuous.

I was so satisfied with my experience, that I am looking forward to coming back for either 6-course tasting or the Chef’s Tasting.

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The DineLA Restaurant Week’s 3-Course Dinner is only $49.00 at Patina.
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Amuse:  Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Lobster
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Close up of the Amuse
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Bread Service.  Sadly, it’s 7:00pm on Friday, and they’re out of Olive Bread.
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Heirloom Tomato Salad
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Preparing to shave some Summer Truffles over the Brentwood Corn Agnolotti

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Brentwood Corn Agnolotti with added Shaved Summer Truffles ($20 supplement)
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Kurobata Pork Belly
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Sea Bass
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Close up of Sea Bass
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Squid Ink Pasta… so delicate, yet so flavorful.
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Close up of the Squid Ink Pasta
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Buttermilk Verbana Panna Cotta
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Coconut  dessert that’s made with coconut milk, tapioca pearls, mango, yuzu, maracuya, sesame crisps
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Close up of the Coconut dessert that’s made with coconut milk, tapioca pearls, mango, yuzu, maracuya, sesame crisps

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Knife Cut Noodling at Shanxi Noodle House in City of Industry

Knife Cut Noodling at Shanxi Noodle House in City of Industry

In the East San Gabriel Valley, more and more Asian restaurants are popping up all over from La Puente to Walnut, and from Northern Chinese cuisine to Burmese.  Shanxi Noodle House isn’t a newcomer.  They’ve been in business for over about 2 years now, only having been discovered by me, when a friend and I needed to find a place to grab a bite while on our way home from checking out the superblooms along the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore back in March of this year.  Searching through Yelp, we stumbled upon their listing, which has been awarded a good number of 4 and 5 star reviews from Yelpers, and decided to give them a try.   The result was enjoying the wonderful layers of flavors as well as different textures in the dishes we tried, particularly of the Crispy Potatoes with Oat Flour Noodle Rolls.  After that night, we came back for more.  The noodles and dumplings are all house made, and the knife cut noodles are made to order.

Korean Royal Cuisine Progression Dinner at Yong Su San

Korean Royal Cuisine Progression Dinner at Yong Su San

I’ve heard from some that these progression dinners, aka Royal Cuisine, are more common in North Korea these days than in the South.  Not sure how true that is.  Multi-course meal served family style, in a formal setting, but not as grand and spectacular as one would see at a Chinese banquet dinner.  Nevertheless, it is an interesting experience to partake in at least once.

The dinners are not cheap (about $40 and up per person depending on the menu selected), and while the flavors were there, they were rather muted and not as bold as one would expect from Korean food.  Many of the dishes were good, but there are better versions elsewhere.

Yet, this place is packed, and for the most part, diners are seated in their own private dining room, whether it’s for a party of 4 or 20 (advanced reservations required, of course).