Food as Art: Ortolan

Restaurant: Ortolan

Location: 8338 W. 3RD STREET, LOS ANGELES, CA 90048 (323) 653-3300

Date: Dec 11, 2010

Cuisine: Modern French


Ortolan, named after the finch the French like to eat, has been around for a few years. It’s always been a very sharp kitchen, but this was my best meal yet. This is the kind of cooking loosely called modern French. Inspired by the French gastronomical tradition, this is right there in the thick of mainstream “fancy food.” Despite the French part of the tradition, there is a light touch here that is very much California — and just plain good. It’s also worth noting that we came in at 6:15 and had a play to attend, and they powered through the prix fix in 70 minutes at our request!

The last bottle of this from my cellar. I might have to find more. Robert Parker gives this amazing Burgundy 95 points. “The exceptional, medium to dark ruby-colored 1999 Chambertin Clos de Beze has boisterous Asian spice and candied cherry aromas. Cookie dough, blackberry syrup, violets, candied cherries, and hints of licorice can be found in this muscular, opulent wine. Its liquid velvet-like personality screams of sur-maturite, yet it is fresh and delineated. It displays a prodigiously long, candied, supple finish. Projected maturity: 2004-2014.”

Tonight’s menu, with a few modifications for the none meat eaters at the table.

They have a Champagne bucket, which is always a sign of a good things to come.

I had noticed on previous visits that Chef Christophe Eme has a thing for test tubes. These Amuses came in two flavors, carrot and celery soups (warm). Yum, they were both great, I particularly liked the celery. I’ve said it before, but creme and veggie soups are usually good.

The several types of bread came with two types of butter, salted and unsalted, as well as this “eggplant caviar and pesto” dip.

Tomato Coulis with Heirloom Tomato and Yogurt Sorbet. I’m not a big tomato fan, but this was amazing. Not only did it look good, but the contents of the glass tasted like a good Gazpacho, albiet creamier with the yogurt and a bit sweeter.

The Halibut on the menu was substituted with this mushroom and quail soup. Again, cream seals the deal. The soup tasted like cream of mushroom (in a good way) and the poultry was succulent.

Cod with tomato, scallions.

Lobster Grape, Pumpkin Gnocchi and Pomegranate. That pasta is actually spaghetti wrapped around the lobster insides. That was pretty cool. The sweetness of the grapes went nicely. A few of the grapes seemed a little dried or something, but it was a great dish.

Short Ribs Polenta with Olives and Tomato Confit. Fatty meat and polenta are a tried and true combo, and this one worked perfectly.

Poached Salmon Peach, Fig, Fennel and Orange Sauce.

Wine number two. I have a lot of Beaucastel. For a reason. This one Parker gives a 96. “Beaucastel has been on a terrific qualitative roll over the last four vintages, and the 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape (which Francois Perrin feels is similar to the 1990, although I don’t see that as of yet) is a 15,000-case blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, and the balance split among the other permitted varietals of the appellation. This inky/ruby/purple-colored cuvee offers a classic Beaucastel bouquet of new saddle leather, cigar smoke, roasted herbs, black truffles, underbrush, and blackberry as well as cherry fruit. It is a superb, earthy expression of this Mourvedre-dominated cuvee. Full-bodied and powerful, it will undoubtedly close down over the next several years, not to re-emerge for 7-8 years. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2025.”

Apple Tart Ice Cream

Coconut Bar Chocolate 72%, Passion Fruit Emulsion and Coconut Sorbet. This was an amazing desert. I love passionfruit and I love coconut. The pineapple and chocolate didn’t hurt either.

As I mentioned at the beginning. This was an impressive meal (and we pounded through it in no time flat). I’ll be heading back.

One comment on “Food as Art: Ortolan

  1. […] is a bit of a stress test for restaurants. The ultimate prize winner in this category, BTW, is Ortolan who flawlessly pounded through a huge prixe fixe in just over an hour. Overall La Sandia did fine with the speed, although they made us wait 20-25 minutes and then […]

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