Bistro LQ – 27 Courses of Trufflumpagus

Restaurant: Bistro LQ [1, 2]

Location: 8009 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90048. (323) 951-1088

Date: January 20, 2011

Cuisine: Modern French

Rating: Legendary. Trufflumpagus is still squatting inside my skull.


Back in December my Foodie Club friends and I had heard about this crazy “19 course truffle dinner” Bistro LQ was going to offer. It’s done only on Thursdays, and only with advance notice (2+ weeks). So I called up at the end of the year and made a reservation for eight. Filling the spots was rather easy. I’d eaten here before (CLICK HERE FOR THE PREVIOUS REVIEW), but this was going to be different.

It’s worth mentioning too that the service was first rate tonight. On my previous visit it had been a little rough around the edges, but they have it all sharpened up. They were also super welcoming and there was NO CORKAGE for the truffle dinner. I LOVE no corkage.

It ended up being 27 courses, almost 6 hours, and 8 bottles of wine (with 6.5 drinkers!).

Prepared for battle, we sally forth with no less than a dozen wines — for eight people!

With this many wines we begin with a white (really it should be 2 or 3). I literally ran across Chateauneuf du Pape to pick up two extra bottles of this fantastic blanc. Parker gives it a 95. “The 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape blanc is even better. Meriting the same rating as I gave it last year, it is a delicious, beautifully textured, light gold-colored white revealing plenty of white peach, apricot, nectarine, and honeysuckle notes as well as a distinctive florality and minerality. More honeyed and fuller-bodied than its 2008 counterpart, it should drink beautifully for 7-8 years, then go into an oxidative state. It is somewhat of a gamble as to what will happen thereafter. Beaucastel’s limited production luxury cuvee first produced in 1986 is their 100% Roussanne Vieilles Vignes offering. Fifty percent is barrel-fermented in one-year-old barrels, but no new oak is utilized.”

Amuses to begin. Oxtail with caramelized onions and… you guessed it… truffle.

“Amuse of Kushii oyster poached in truffle butter.” This tasted like… well a good oyster with shaved truffle on it.

“Cucumber ice cream with truffles and apple balsamic vinegar gel.” Now here we get interesting. This was surprisingly yummy.  Who would have thought, cucumber ice cream and truffles. But the sweetness and cool notes of the cucumber blended nicely with the early shroom.


Burghound gives this 93/100. Notes of strawberry. Very nice effort. Those of my fellow diners who haven’t had good pinot noir had their usual response: Wow, this is a really good wine!

“Cold poached quail eggs mold in pork aspic with sunchoke and fresh truffles. Terrine of fois gras.” I think I prefer my fois warm. Cold like this it did have a nutty quality, but it’s also a bit like a slab of fat.  Wait… it is. The egg I liked, as I’m a sucker for runny yolk.

“Celery-root, goat cheese, and yellow beets.”

Panacotta infused with truffle and tonka bean in a sea urchin emulsion.” Wow! This dish was amazing. The Panacotta had a perfect creaminess, almost like Burrata (MORE ON THAT HERE). The Uni sauce was perfect, sweet and without a hint of fishiness, and the generous shaved truffles packed a punch.


Now the “light” reds. Parker gives this Burgundy 96. “Fashioned from a parcel located in the heart of its grand cru (mostly from 25-year old vines though Raphet asserts that “there are still some very old ones”), the 2003 Charmes-Chambertin Cuvee Unique explodes with red fruit aromas. Sappy, bursting with red cherries, this is a sensual wine made for hedonists. Medium to full-bodied, deep, and concentrated, it has serious depth of fruit, loads of smile-inducing spices and an exceptionally long, supple finish filled with superbly ripened tannin. Drink it over the next 11-14 years (incidentally, I served the 1996 at this year’s International Pinot Noir Celebration’s salmon bake in Oregon and it was terrific, wowing all who drank it.)”

“Venison tartar with truffle, celery root truffle remoulade and a hint of yuzu.” Good stuff here too, particularly the venison. This had been my favorite dish the previous time I was here, but then it was larger and with quail egg instead of truffle. I liked the egg actually, but this was still good.

Wine Spectator gave this wine the #11 slot for 2009 and 96 points. “Dried dark fruit on the nose, verging on date and prune. Full-bodied, with a dense palate of ripe fruit and supersilky tannins. This is a deep and beautiful red, delivering lots of subtle character. Fascinating. One of the undiscovered treasures of the vintage. Best after 2011. 2,000 cases made.”

“Scottish hare truffle consommé soup with hare filet, hare blood cubes and hare shu-mai.” Very interesting soup (broth added below). The hare was very gamey, and there were the sausage cubes. Blood sausage.

And with the consume added. The broth was very good, and there was some huge amount of truffle here. I don’t mind gamey — at this certainly was. It reminded me a bit of some of the rustic sausages I’d get in the Spanish countryside, the ones that instantly teleport you to the pig sty with each bite. Here it was the hutch instead.

“Truffle tapioca pudding with langoustines in a truffle crust.” Also a very nice dish. Very interesting texture to the tapioca. It was hard to get all the elements together in one bite.

My faithful readers will easily recognize the Beaucastel. The 1998 gets 95 points. “This wine performed even better than my high accolades in issue #131 suggested. The 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape is the greatest effort produced since Beaucastel’s 1989 and 1990. It reveals more accessibility, no doubt because the final blend included more Grenache than normal. Its dense purple color is followed by sweet aromas of blackberries, licorice, new saddle leather, and earth. There is superb concentration, full body, low acidity, and high tannin, but it is surprisingly drinkable for such a young Beaucastel. Ideally, it needs another 3-4 years of cellaring, and should keep for 25-30 years.”

“Scallop, truffles and leeks, in butter sauce.” The scallop was cooked perfectly (not over or under done). The sauce was pretty much to die for. We didn’t have any bread (I think if we had, it would have killed us), but I nearly licked the plate.

“Poached egg, truffles and leeks, in butter sauce.” The same prep but with a poached egg for a member of our party that doesn’t eat scallops.

Back to the classics. 1990 was a fantastic vintage in Paulillac. “Even though this is usually a delicately-styled Pauillac, the 1990 appears to be less well-endowed than some of the other recent top vintages of Pichon-Lalande, such as 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, and 1989. It displays medium dark ruby color, an attractive bouquet of vanillin from new oak, ripe blackcurrants, and spices. It is not as concentrated as I would have hoped, but it does exhibit good body, glycerin, and ripeness, as well as an overall sense of beauty and grace. While stylish, it could have benefitted from more length and intensity. Anticipated maturity: 1995-2008.”

“Chili rellenos with sepia, truffle mole.” This was kinda spicy. The mole was awesome though, and the relleno itself… well fried, which went well together. Somehow there was sepia (cuttlefish) in here. I didn’t really notice.

“Mushroom and cream soup, with truffles.” More shrooms!

“Miso soup, poached sea scallops and foie gras with truffles.” Here was my warm fois.

With the soup. The broth was somewhere between a miso soup and a consume, which was better than a straight traditional miso would have been.

“Oxtail and truffle sopes.” Wow again! Like amazing BBQ beef, and the bit of sopa and generous truffle didn’t hurt. The sauce was a bit spicy sweet, certainly a Central American kinda taste.


A massive monster from Sardinia, the Parker 94 point, “2005 Shardana is an awesome Carignano endowed with exuberant dark fruit, smoke, licorice, sage, rosemary and tar. This is a fairly big, masculine wine with great intensity, depth and roundness. It needs another year or two in bottle for the tannins to settle down. The Shardana is formidable, though, and a terrific choice for hearty cuisines. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2021.”

“Roasted beef loin with truffle.” Meat. Truffle.

“Beef bone marrow and truffle tartine with huckleberries.” This was also amazing, the “meat” just disolved in the mouth. Great feel and incredible richness.

“Pork loin with truffle.” It seems ALL the meats are included

“Wood pigeon, figs and truffle ragu with corn.” Also nice, I liked the corn, and the pigeon was nicely tender and pink. Not nearly as gamey as the crazy (but good) Scottish Woodcock (SEE HERE).

“Veal sweetbreads and sautéed duck foie gras soft taco with chanterelles.” I’m not normally a huge sweetbread fan. I mean the idea of eating baby cow brain is a bit off-putting, but this was an incredibly tasty dish. Spicy, sweet, very interesting textures. I hadn’t expected the Latin influences in this meal, but I really enjoyed them.

“Simple frisee salad with truffles.” This was just what we needed at this point. It was very light and citrusy. I enjoyed the crisp sting of the raddichio.


Parker gives Bordeaux 94 points. “Only the fourth vintage for proprietors Francoise and Alain Raynaud, this wine comes from an old vineyard (the vines are among the oldest in St.-Emilion) within the city of Libourne. A cutting edge vinification with cold maceration and aging sur lie, stirring of lees, and an obvious respect for the terroir and the goal of capturing the essence of a vineyard have all been lofty goals of the Raynauds. The powerful, multi-layered 2000 should rival 1998 as the finest Quinault produced. It boasts an opaque purple color as well as a gorgeous concoction of crushed blackberries, blueberries, and black currants intermixed with violets, licorice, and subtle smoky oak. It cuts a broad swath across the palate with an expansive chewiness in addition to terrific concentration, purity, and overall equilibrium. In spite of that, it is remarkably light on its feet. It is hard to find fault with this wine, making the cascade of local criticism of Raynaud all the more difficult to comprehend. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2018.”

Lots of condiments for the cheese! Walnut and hazelnut, Roasted Cumin Seeds, Canneberges Chutney with Cloves and Walnuts, Apple Gellee, Huckleberries Gellee, Bell pepper Mustard, Tomatillo and Figues Compote, Pumpkin Ginger Truffle honey, Homemade Green Ketchup.

The honey, cumin, and nuts were on a separate plate.

The “less gooey” plate.

And the “more gooey.” I was getting way too drunk at this point to write down the cheese varieties.

“truffle mousse served with truffle madeleine.” You wouldn’t have thought it’d work, but it did. I really enjoyed the mouse. Still, at this point I probably could have used some very powerful NON TRUFFLE desserts to prevent what’s happening now — truffle burps, 12 hours later.


“pear gratin with truffles and caramel.” This was also good, and the truffle was understated. The texture was really nice and soft, the carmel/pear combo great as one would expect.

“truffle financier and warm cotton candy syrup.” This was mild and truffley. I didn’t really need more truffley.

“chocolate crosmesquis with orange flower scented truffle cream.” But this was pretty awesome.

It exploded into chocolatey goodness.

“Petite Fours.” I tried two of the macaroons, they were pretty damn good.

Our wine lineup all together, so you can appreciate how bad my hangover is.

Overall this dinner surpassed purple epic and went straight to legendary orange (3lite geek cred to anyone who knows what this means!). Most of the dishes were great, and a few stunning. We had a great time — and the last hour was a real blur. But I’m not exactly feeling my best this morning.

For another Bistro LQ meal, click here.

Or for other Foodie Club meals, click here.


Food as Art: Melisse

Restaurant: Melisse [1, 2]

Location: 1104 Wilshire Blvd.Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 395-0881

Date: March 3, 2010

Cuisine: California French

Rating: Awesome, but heart stopping.


I’ve been going to Melisse for years but I could never convince a whole table to try the chef’s “Carte Blanche” menu. Even my ever-patient wife wasn’t up to it. So I went last March with two other glutton gourmands (my Foodie Club) and we went to town. We even added in some supplements. This meal was 7-8 months ago so I apologize for lapses in my memory, hopefully made up for by pretty pictures.

The first Amuse was grapes done two ways, on the right covered in goat cheese and a nut, and on the left spherized.

I brought wine from my cellar as usual. A meal of this magnitude called for a Grand Cru burgundy. In this case a 1995 Mazis-Chambertin. I’ve long been a burg-hound, and this didn’t disappoint.

Melisse has excellent bread in the modern French style. I’m particularly partial to the bacon bread. This meal was also used by both my friend Erick and I as beta testing for our DSLR based food photography. After having to stand back from the table and annoy other guests with a big flash I went out that week and bought a 50mm compact macro lens and a macro flash ring. Now I’m golden. Food is a tricky subject because while it doesn’t move, the natural habitat is often dark and it’s a small subject that must often be filmed from very close (normal lenses don’t like to focus under two feet).

I can’t say I remember what this amuse was, but the Japanese pottery is pretty. If I had to guess I’d say herring or mackerel of some sort.

I think this was Fennel Flan, Valencia Orange Gelee, Cashew Froth. This is the kind of dish Melisse excels at. Things involving cream.

I can’t remember this either, but it’s a good bet here that when something looks creamy or buttery, it tastes great.

“Egg Caviar, Lemon Creme Fraiche and American Osetra Caviar.” A Melisse classic. This has a wonderful creamy/eggy ness.

“Trio of Melisse Foie Gras. Dated Confiture, Pineapple Gastrique, Tarragon.” Because one fois isn’t enough.

In no time the three of us had plowed through the Mazis-Chambertin and I had to pull out the 1989 Lynch Bages. This was the first great wine I ever bought when I began serious collecting (and drinking) in ’96. It’s remained a nostalgic favorite of mine ever since. Parker gives it 95 points and says, “The style of the two vintages for Lynch Bages parallels the style of the 1989 and 1990 Pichon-Longueville-Baron. In both cases, the 1990 is the more forward, flattering, and delicious to drink wine, in contrast to the more massive, backward, tannic, and potentially superior 1989. The opaque purple-colored 1989 is less evolved and showy. However, it looks to be a phenomenal example of Lynch Bages, perhaps the finest vintage in the last 30 years. Oozing with extract, this backward, muscular, dense wine possesses great purity, huge body, and a bulldozer-like power that charges across the palate. It is an enormous wine with unbridled quantities of power and richness. The 1989 requires 5-8 years of cellaring; it should last for three decades. These are two superb efforts from Lynch Bages.”

This is the “Truffle Egg.” It wasn’t on the menu, but I’ve wanted to try one for some time. We were going to each order one but the waiter wisely convinced us to share. It’s a crazy poached egg like thing in a truffle butter sauce with a buttery foam on top. Then…

Fresh black truffles are shaved on top.

Voila! It tastes as good as it looks.

This single shrimp and single stalk of asparagus from a specific California farm was quite excellent. The shrimp was almost lobster-like. Buttery sauce of course.

I think this was a mushroom/scallop soup with a Japanese-like flavor pallete.

And this was a monkfish with various vegetables and sauces.

Sonoma duck, config of leg, and breast. Quail egg. This was really tasty, particularly the breast and everything when smeared in the egg yolk.

Beef of some sort, including the marrow.

And the Carte de fromage. My favorite. Melisse has always had one of the best cheese carts in town.

Get a look at that runny Vacheron or Epoisses in the middle (the orange round one).

We ended up with these.

This was basically strawberries and cream. It was amazing. The strawberry is in gelato/sorbet form.

I think this was “Frozen Passion Fruit Souffle. Pistachio, Coconut, Lemongrass Broth.”

Lest we forget the chocolate, we each got like five kinds. The soufflé had it’s own injector. It’s called “Chocolate, Chocolate, Coffee. Chocolate Souffle, Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch, Coffee and Mascarpone.”

Here in tripple form. Remember this is but the third of several deserts, after the cheese!

Wafer thin mint anyone? These petite-fors were actually a bit lackluster, but who had room anyway. The wild strawberries and creme fraiche were good.

We started at 8pm and left close to 1 am. Look how the dining room appeared during our final courses. This was a very (modern) French meal in a lot of ways, following the classic rule of “never too much butter, never too much cream.” It’s very very good though, if a bit on the rich side.

For another Melisse meal, click here.

Or for other Foodie Club meals, click here.