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.