La Cachette Bistro part deux

Restaurant: La Cachette Bistro [1, 2]

Location: 1733 Ocean AveSanta Monica, CA 90401(310) 434-9509

Date: January 15, 2011

Cuisine: (Cal) French

Rating: Great food, good value for what you get.

 

Movie night, and off to La Cachette Bistro for some good French fare.

The menu. They changed it up a little since we were last here (HERE FOR PREVIOUS REVIEW). Now there are a range of “French Tapas,” which are kinda like Spanish topics but… well, more French.

“Roasted Organic Beet Tower with Feta Cheese, Avocado, Tomato, Goat Cheese Raviolini and Cumin Dressing.”

“House Smoked Salmon Plate with Corn Blini, Sour Cream and Onions.”

“Salted Cod Croquettes with Rouille.” These are a traditional Spanish dish (despite the French Tapas claim). They weren’t bad at all, but they weren’t in the same league as The Bazaar’s version (REVIEW HERE).

“Stuffed Dates with Gorgonzola and Crispy Prosciutto.” Can’t go too wrong here. The sweetness of the dates, and the salty cheese and crunchy salty bacon. Yum.

“Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil, Parmesan Cheese and Mushroom Sauce.” Very mushroomy. A bit of butter, but not super rich.

“New Zealand Lamb Chops, with Horseradish, Mint, Peas and Bacon.”

What would a bistro be without bistro fries.

Cod in a cream sauce, with squash blossoms stuffed with ratatouille.

Cassolette, the classic white beans, sausage, and lamb stew. Exactly as it should be, rich, meaty, and beany.

Mostly variants of traditional bistro desserts, which is a good thing.

Profiteroles With Vanilla Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate Sauce And Almonds.” Classic Profiteroles. The chocolate sauce here is perfect, combined with the pastry, ice cream.  Umm good.

“Warm Dark Chocolate Chip “Divine” Cake With Whipped Cream.” The cake was fine, but they need to upgrade the ice cream. it didn’t seem rich and creamy enough.

“Tahitian Vanilla And Orange Blossom Crème Brulee.” I love a good creme brulee. This one is good, with a nice hint of orange. It could have been a bit more custardy, and Sam’s by the Beach (REVIEW HERE) does a better brulee, but it’s still good.

Check out the custard!

Expresso.

In good weather, La Cachette Bistro has a gorgeous patio.

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.

Quick Eats: La Cachette Bistro

Restaurant: La Cachette Bistro [1, 2]

Location: 1733 Ocean AveSanta Monica, CA 90401(310) 434-9509

Date: Nov 13, 2010

Cuisine: (Cal) French

Rating: Great food, good value for what you get.

 

We’ve been going to La Cachette in Century City for over 10 years. Last year, it closed and reopened in Santa Monica with a new format — and it’s a winner. The old restaurant had great food, but it was a little stuffy and very “gray hair.” The one is more casual, cheaper, closer (to us), and just all around more approachable. But the food is great. Less haute cuisine, more Bistro, but very good.

Again I forgot the medium sized camera so it was iPhone 4 to the rescue, I apologize for the mediocre photo quality as a result.

My dining partners wanted white. So for French, and white. In my cellar, there is is always Chablis. Parker gives this a 94-96, “From this cru’s steep, riverside slopes, the Fevre 2006 Chablis Bougros Cote de Bouguerots reveals its oak in lanolin, toasted almond, and spice aromas, along with notes of chalk dust, sweet lime, and heady, lily-like floral perfume. With enveloping richness, luscious juiciness, and flattering creaminess, yet underlain by a vivid sense of crushed stone, this saturates the palate so completely and intensely and with such a palpable sense of extract, that the finishing stain seems almost severe. This remarkably concentrated and polished wine should be worth following for 15 or more years. The 2005, too, is superb.”

Bread of course.

The menu top half. click to zoom.

And bottom. click to zoom.

“Organic Beet Tower with Feta Cheese, Avocado, Heirloom Tomato, Crispy Goat Cheese Ravioini and Cumin dressing.”
“Lightly Creamed Lobster Bisque, served with Rouille.” This bisque is a good compromise. While it might not be 100% as tasty as the fully creamed sort, it’s like 98%, and it doesn’t hit the gut so hard.
“Wild mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil, Parmesan Cheese and Mushroom Sauce.”
“House smoked whitefish with potato salad, shallots and olive oil.” This vanished quickly off my wife’s plate. She declared: “I’d order it again.”
“Lamb stew with Merguez Sausage, Coucous, Root Vegetables and Harissa Broth.” This was very tasty. Tender lamb, yummy Moroccan sausage, a complementary broth.
They have really great traditional French deserts (and some newer types as well), but we were too full.
I highly recommend La Cachette Bistro. It’s modern French, done really well.