Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bistro LQ ~9.8~

L.A. loves people and places with "it factor." Having it can mean overnight success and Bistro LQ (open as of last Tuesday) definitely has it. With pure luck and the kindness of Maitre D' Eric Bouty, I was able to attend the third night of their soft opening last Monday. There is so much to say about this new gem that it’s taken a few days to gather my thoughts. Food writers aren't really allowed to get writer's block or we risk forgetting the flavors. So, I'll just plunge in with my first impression of Bistro LQ, named for Chef/Owner Laurent Quenioux(formerly of Bistro K and 7th Street Bistro).

The space, once housing Mimosa, offers a simple, elegant respite from the chaos of the city. Cool blues and earthen tones quiet the mind and allow you to focus on the food. Whimsical glass bubbles hang from the ceiling and the servers don red Converse adding a bit of sparkle and humor to the room. This is not a stuffy, snooty French Bistro, but an inspired eatery with an avant-garde chef at the helm, blazing his own path to gastronomic heaven.

The menu is the type you gush over, reading every line, oohing and aahing at the innovative options. Divided into Overtures (starters), Seas-Rivers-Oceans, Meat-Fowl, and Garden, the menu changes often depending on what's in season. You can choose a half order of most items which can make the meal more affordable and allows you to taste a greater variety of palatable pleasures.

Prices range from $5 to $30. They also offer a six or nine course Degustation menu for $65 and $85. Finally, I had the stellar waiter help me decide what to order. Just when I thought it was time to sit back and revel in the anticipation of my coming meal, I was asked to order dessert, “… because the pastry chef takes so much time with each one," he explained. Fine with me!

House made olive bread arrived followed by amuse-bouche of raw salmon in a yuzu sauce with seaweed threads. The blood-orange hue of the fish was striking and the buttery salmon paired well with the salty tang of the citrus sauce.

Picking a starter with choices like Uni Tapioca Pudding, Pistachio Mousse, and Chanterelles with Veal Sweetbreads was so difficult, I chose two. First up, “Oat Meal,” infused with fennel lobster broth and cinnamon roasted Maine lobster. The combination of golden turmeric, spicy cinnamon and rich lobster permeated the creamy, piping hot cereal ... the result - decadence in a bowl.

Next, Veal Cheeks and Pea Composition. The rich, braised veal in contrast with the delicate flavor of fresh peas done 3 ways was brilliant. The meat was indescribably good, so I'll just tell you, it was the best veal cheek I've had to date. Pea "guacamole" was a nifty concept, though somewhat flavorless. Pea gazpacho was cool and silky and the barely green pea shoot salad perfectly dressed. An oblong scoop of fresh corn sorbet was a sweet nod to summertime.

Moving on to the sea but remaining cheeky, Monkfish Cheeks. This dish was all about textures that played well together: Creamy, buttery Cipollini Onion, firm, simply seasoned Monkfish and al dente artichoke confit all resting in a subtly sweet pool of pomegranate molasses.

My final and favorite savory creation of the night was duck, tender, pink, and juicy, nestled on a bed of farro risotto with English sweet pea and fava bean mariniere. A shot glass of Campari Cucumber Gelee came on the side and while visually glamorous, was far too bitter for my palate. I take my Campari with a little sugar because I’m an infant when it comes to alcohol. After four generous half courses I was one blissed out foodie, eager to try the labor intensive desserts from pastry chef Mohamed Morseli.

Fruit or Chocolate ... I had to choose so, of course, I went the chocolate route! Truly, EVERY SINGLE dessert listed was tempting, i.e. Rice Pudding in Goat Milk with Cassis Sorbet, Red Beet Espuma (that's Spanish for foam) and little truffles. Alas, I was dining alone and had room for only one dessert.

The Composition Around Dark Chocolate arrived in trio form:
#1) an intensely addicting chocolate soufflé style cake with Szechuan Peppercorns, all drenched in warm chocolate sauce.
#2) a soft chocolate pancake cookie, sandwiched with creamy Mascarpone cheese.
#3) a crème of chocolate, smooth, fluffy and perfectly sweet.

But wait … there’s more! “What!?” Yes, I know! The Mignardises (post-dessert series) deserves an honorable mention, as it was a grand dessert unto itself; chocolates, marshmallows, macaroons, financier, and Madeleine, all made in-house.

Other fun facts about B. LQ:

- The five course tasting dessert menu; $30 per person.
- The Johan Zerrouki and Chef L.Q. Cheese Cart with over 20 types of cheese from around the world and a variety of house-made condiments such as Sweet Onion Jam with Maple Syrup and Truffle Honey … my weakness!!
- Libations … artisanal beers, wines (fairly priced) from around the world, LaMill coffee and tea, as well as house-made Tisanes. The wine list is classified by "moments of life and feelings," such as First Date and Love and Passion. Aww…
- Sample a day in the life of Bistro LQ
- An inside look at Chef Quenioux
- Check out The Senses

Clearly, there is no shortage of imagination in the kitchen of Bistro LQ. New flavor combinations are brazenly presented to the world on white canvases weekly. This is a restaurant for the adventurous foodie who appreciates small details, big flavors, and a chef with a passion for creating masterpieces, with food as the medium.

(323) 951-1088

Innovative French Bistro with world fusion food and a focus on market fresh ingredients. A fun place that takes food very seriously. Good for adventurous eaters.


Clean and Simple Chic