Well.. well.. well.. we meet again. =) I didn't think I would start writing in my food blog again since it has been poorly neglected the past several months!! However, I'm on winter break now, so I figured I should try to get my food blog running again! And what better way to start this food blog then a post on Ortolan!
This holiday, my parents were asking me where we could eat at.. we thought about Crustaceans.. which is a place we've been to the past 2 years. We also thought about Pacific Palms buffet so that we could take advantage of their all you can eat lobster deal but they were booked. Soo.. I proposed Ortolan.. which I have been eyeing on for a while. The talented Christophe Eme is the executive chef at Ortolan and has made quite a mark on the French dining scene in Southern California. Perhaps he was widely known for his work at L'Orangerie, the once popular French L.A. area restaurant, and for competing in Iron Chef America against Morimoto. However, for me, I remember him as the husband of the Stark Trek: Voyager and recently CBS's Shark actress, Jeri Ryan. =) After reading the reviews and seeing a few news clips of the restaurant online, I knew we had to try this restaurant.
The minute we walked into the restaurant, we were greeted by the French host.. too bad Jeri Ryan wasn't there that evening.. =T and you immediately see the bright room in front of you. The classic crystal chandeliers, cream colored leather booths, and drapes provide an elegant yet not over the top modern atmosphere to the whole room.
Since we had a party of 5, we were seated in the other dining room which included 2 larger dining tables. The room we were seated at was not very well lit plus the downside is that it's closer to the kitchen so if you have a reaaally sensitive nose like my mom, you may smell some smoke in the room. However, I didn't smell anything so being in this room didn't bother me very much.
Since we were seated in the darker room, our waitress handed each of us a mini flashlight so that we could read our menus. What a way to save electricity eh?! :)
After we took our orders, the waitress brings out 5 tubes of soup served with mini straws, which are compliments from the Chef! So our dinner started well since we were offered free food! =) What looked like a solution that you would find in your old High School Chemistry class turned out to be such a delicious yet unique way of serving soup. I believe the brown one with the green top is mushroom soup and the white cream colored one was cauliflower soup.
Our next complimentary dish was this eggplant mixture spread that we were able to put on our bread. Again... very good and a nice alternative to your ordinary butter or EVOO/balsamic vinegar dips.
We decided to order and share 3 different types of appetizers which turned out to be a good idea cause we were able to taste a variety of dishes and still have room for our entrees. The first appetizer that came out was the Seared Napa Valley Escargot $21. It is served in two ways with a side of parmesan crisps. On the right side, the escargot is chopped up finely and deep-fried and on the left side, the chef layered the tube with mashed potatoes at the bottom, then sauteed escargot, and lettuce emulsion at the top. This dish was REALLY good... The only downside I would say is that the waiter did not offer us mini spoons. Therefore, it was extremely difficult to eat out of the small tube with our forks.
The next appetizer we ordered was the Ceviche of Baby Scallop with Osetra Caviar $23. This is another really good dish.. the lemon juice really brought out the freshness of the scallops and the outer crust added a nice sweetness and crunchy texture to the dish. Another winner!
The last appetizer we ordered was the Marinated Tuna with Eggplant Caviear $21. This was an interesting dish cause the mini squares didn't exactly look like tuna. It was served with chopped up seasoned vegetables and herbed goat cheese. It was good and was a unique way of serving tuna but not my favorite appetizer.
I ordered the Roast Duck Supreme with Cherry Tomato $38. The dish was appealing to the eye but I was a little disappointed by the texture of the duck. It wasn't as tender as I hoped it would be. But the fava bean rolls and baby fennel accompanied the duck nicely. One thing that stuck out from the dish was that the two little cigars you see in the dish are actually duck confit.. so the mini cigars is actually filled with finely shredded duck meat inside. I thought it was a type of deep fried vegetable that tasted sweet but I later asked the waitress and she said it was meat. You should have seen my response.. "OHHhhhhh~" =P
My mom ordered the Seared Cod with Watercress Sauce $38. The dish is served with Chanterelle mushrooms, scallion, and clam. I asked my mom what she thought of it and she said that it was a bit too bland. The fish was cooked really well but I think they should have seasoned it a bit more or accompanied the fish with a different sauce. So yea.. I don't think we would order this dish again.
Next, my brother ordered the Filet of Nebraska Beef with Marrow Bone $41. It was served with oxtail, chestnut, and these potato puffs. My brother enjoyed this dish so I guess this is another winner. It's a very hearty yet nice dish for the Holiday.
The next dish that was ordered was the Roast Rack of Lamb with orange reduction $38. It is served with artichoke, eggplant, and tomato confit. My dad said that the dish was cooked well but he was not very fond of the vegetable confit on the left side.
The next dish that was ordered was the Pan-Roast Kurobuta Pork with Onion Soubise $38. It is accompanied with these really yummy and creamy truffle-potato gnocchi and haricot vert which is a fancy way of saying green beans in French. Haha The green beans were wrapped what tasted like super thinly sliced toast. The only downside to this dish was that the pork was a bit on the dry side. Thick pork chop is tough to keep moist.. I would probably try the chicken dish if you want an alternative to red meat or seafood.
After the meal, we were really full and decided to skip dessert. However, the waitress later brought out some dessert samplers, which were compliments from the Chef. The dessert included a variety of different flavored macaroons, these colorful squares that tasted like marshmallows, and some candied jelly. The sweet dessert complimented my slightly bitter jasmine tea. Yum!
After the meal, Chef Eme actually came out to great us and the other customers that were at the restaurant. Too bad it wasn't Jeri Ryan.. hehe j/k. No, but it was a lovely surprise to see the executive chef take some time away from the busy kitchen to greet us and see how well we liked the dishes. Of course all of us were like.. "Oh it was really good!" Even though we were thinking about some dishes he could have improved =P but it was really nice of him to come out and talk to us. It definitely makes the customers feel more welcomed and taken care of. Plus, with all the complimentary dishes we received, it's hard to give a bad review to Ortolan. Not that we had a bad experience or anything, the service was EXCELLENT and the food was really good. But I personally felt that the appetizers tasted better than the entrees. However, one thing I appreciate about Ortolan is Chef Eme's innovative yet contemporary dishes that truly provide his customers an experience of what he calls "haute" cuisine. Not HOT :) .. but haute. It basically means elaborate or skillfully prepared food. And you can truly experience that when you come to Ortolan.
8338 W. 3rd Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Telephone (323) 653-3300