Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ultimate Dinner Experience

Ok folks hang on to your table and strap on the drool bibs tight. I wish I had remembered to take my camera out early, so in that aspect you shall have to indulge me in allowing me to tell the tale of food, friends and a great restaurant.

The place - The Foundry on Melrose. This restaurant is located on, well, Melrose Ave in Los Angeles. Here allow me to help you out. Click here for their site. Ok ok come back here, we're not near done yet. Before you enter, outside are small tables where folks could sit and enjoy people watching, have some great appetizers and wonderful cocktails. When you first walk in you are greeted by a lovely hostess. To your immediate right is small sunken area where on certain nights they have a jazz group that comes in. You can bet I am going back for that! To your right front is a great bar that wraps around a tad. I was so pleased to see there was not a TV in sight. I really hate going into a nice establishment to have a cocktail and can't relax because the ball game is on. Had I wanted a sports bar experience that is where I would have gone. But here, all that was heard was great music. To the left is small waiting area and then the dining room extends forward. As you continue thru the dining room you pass an open kitchen and head to back dining area outside. You would think you'd feel enclosed with the four walls extending upwards, but the entire ceiling is gone. It's a great outdoor dining area. A large rain storm had passed thru a couple of days prior so the air was chilly. But with all the heaters on I never got cool once. And to eat outside in the fresh air is a great way to enjoy food.

Derek and I arrived around 5:30 and went to the bar to have a cocktail while we waited for our fellow guests to arrive. First to arrive, Janet Rorschach. Now if you've been reading my blog you should remember who this woman is. If not, she was one of my chef instructors at culinary school. She really should right a book and put all of her experiences down in print. (that's my subtle hint to her since I know she'll read this) Next to arrive is Carey and Jeff. Carey and I were classmates in culinary school. So I ask you, is there not a better group of people to share a fantastic meal with? No way!

A bit of info on the Chef/Owner of this estabishment. Eric Greenspan. Born in Jersey come to California and shows us a passion for food the is not to be compared to many. I had the great pleasure to learn from this man as he was a chef instructor at my school. I felt cheated however because as we really started getting into the meat of cooking he was in the throes of opening this restaurant. A great article about him can be found here.

So we are now to follow the hostess to our table and as we walk by the kitchen, we hear and see Chef talking to his staff and already the energy is palpable. I know we are in for a treat! He sees us and greets us warmly.

Now you've all had a great experience at a restaurant. But I have never had service like this and I know for a fact that Chef made sure his staff was trained to his high expectations. I cannot use the term busboy. Not for these folks. So I will call them WA's - Waiter's Assistants. Because they were far better trained than your standard 'busboy' and truly acted as a extention of the waiter. Our waiter was John.

Ok so since we personally know the Chef, Janet more so than us, we were really spoiled. No..really, really spoiled. I wish I could express the grin I had on my face all the way home of just how marvelous this dinner experience was.

First to come out was a tasty bread. Unfortunately I was talking with Carey and didn't hear John's explanation. They were small pinwheels. There was a hint of sweetness and tomato. Next was a plate of fresh focaccia bread with a honey and white wine dipping sauce. Then we were presented with mini poppy seed popovers with a garlic butter. These were so tender they practically melted in your mouth.

Next to arrive was a bed of Arugula greens with shaved French Breakfast radishes and Feta cheese. Not the cheese you buy in a grocery store. This was so creamy.

You can even see 2 of the bread dishes in the back.

We are then presented with tender gnocchi nestled in fava bean puree and served in a hot cast iron pan, with shaved Parmesan cheese.

But the taste sensations did not stop there. We were further treated to Yellow Tail Sashimi. This had a tangelo sauce that I really wanted to lick off the plate. The picture is a bit blurry. I think by this time I was on taste sensation overload and loving every minute of it.

The WA's then bring out an Amuse Bouche for us. For those that do not know what this is, it is like an appetizer, typically one bite. It is designed to 'tickle your palate' and wake it up wanting more of what is to come. And for an amuse, this did not disappoint. In tall shot glasses were a smooth and creamy pea soup with an onion foam. A perfect combination of flavors, neither one competing for the other. I so wish I had gotten a picture of these. But perhaps having a few things left to rattle around in the brain memory banks makes it that much more special.
Our dinners arrive and while we have always been told we "eat with our eyes first" I had already consumed this course with my nose. You could smell the braised meats, salmon skin crisped to perfection and seared duck with it's honey gastrique before you saw it. And then you feasted with your eyes.
Derek's braised short ribs with hanger steak, and roasted fingerling pototoes.

Next we have my pan sear duck breast with carmelized peaches and carrots three ways. I have such a love for duck since going to school and no place in my area either serves it, or serves it well. That has all changed. I will drive to Los Angeles from this point on to get my duck fix.

Of course a meal like this would not be complete without having a decadent dessert, or two.

You all remember when you a kid and would sit on the porch on a hot summer day and enjoy an ice cream sandwich? It's time for the grownups to have their own.
A coffee ice cream sandwich, fresh caramel sauce, caramelize bananas and cinnamon foam. Yes you may lick the screen.

And to tantalize you fruit lovers a strawberry rhubbarb short cake.

After our great meal was complete Chef Greenspan came out to say hello and see how our meal went.

Left to Right - Jeff and Carely Cushler, Chef/Owner Eric Greenspan, myself, Derek and Janet Rorschach.

Does this man not understand that some things just cannot be describe adequately? I know I said things like, wonderful, fantastic, delicious...but they all seem so flat. It was these words and was an experience. One to be savored.

Until next time...


At 5:09 AM, Blogger cj said...

What a wonderful experience, Denise!! have made a note of this restaruant in my 'little black book' for a So. Calif. visit!

Having the pictures to look at, you will be revisiting the tastes of that night for a long time!


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