Saturday, March 21, 2009

Confused at Rivera

1050 S. Flower Street #102
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Apologies ahead of time for the photography. Walking the city last night without a handbag, I left my camera at home and shot with my iPhone. I sometimes get great shots with the iPhone, most notably at Boulevard in San Francisco. However, last night most shots look like they were taken underwater.

We popped into Rivera last night during our first visit to the still developing LA Live. The exterior is mysteriously inviting, and the interior beautifully satisfying.

Inside it's dark and evocative of Spanish moodiness. I strolled around to the photogenic back prep area that remarkably resembles a sushi bar...should Rivera ever go out of business, the space should be an easy sell for an upscale Japanese restaurant with very little in the way of renovation. This communal table separates the main seating area from the sushi bar/pantry area.

In the windows of the refrigerated area there were beautiful olives, fruits, purple endive, chopped bacon or ham...

Succulent pasilla peppers already stuffed with burrata, ready to be made into chile rellenos. I was really tempted by these on the menu, but we weren't staying for an entire dinner. I will definitely have them next time I stop in.

Tuna, beautiful red, raw, fresh tuna.

A whole Spanish ham. The hams I see on their menu are Iberico and Serrano, so....

The cocktail list was very tempting. I am not by nature a sweet drink drinker, but a couple of the fruity tequila drinks tempted me very much. Especially the Donaji, made from mezcal, citrus, pomegranate (loves) and agave nectar (my tea sweetener of choice). Instead I steared myself toward the wine list, where they are offering my favorite Torrontes by the Crios vineyard. I adore this wine.

The list also offers some very interesting beer. J drank one called Xingu Black Beer, from Brasil. And it was DARK.
D indulged in a bottle of Hitachino Nest from Japan, a beer made from red rice. He said it is delightful. And one cannot resist the label. It's an owl. 2% owl, for those of you who catch my drift.

Our lovely waitress suggested the olives, and they were delicious. There were actually 5 on the plate, but as D took the plate he dropped an olive and we never found it. I wanted to find it just to know what it was stuffed with. I even got on the floor. But it had rolled away into oblivion somewhere. These were stuffed with, in ascending order: Parmesan cheese, ham, anchovy and sugared orange peel.

Here is where the confusion came in. I ordered the bacalao. I suppose I was expecting a bunuelo de bacalao, or even some cod that seem vaguely salt cured. However, this seemed like fresh cod to me. Fresh cod deliciously seared with serrano ham strip laid across the top and a wonderfully tart and green salsa verde. The long potato like strips along the bottom of the dish were very lightly cooked potatoes, very good.

When I think of bacalao, I think of this:

image courtesy of this Spanish website:

Cod cured in salt by fishermen in Portugal to make the catch last longer into times without good fishing. I have read that reconstituted bacalao is very juicy and a delicious experience. However, this tasted fresh to me. Next time I go, I will ask. This time we sat in the bar, waited on by a lovely cocktail server and partially due to my ongoing whatever the hell is inhabiting my body, I was not feeling conversational.

There was more confusion to be had with the seviche. Ahi tuna seviche with serranos, lime and avocado and lots of little chunks of jicama. In my mind, seviche is a dish made by denaturing the fish in lime, which pickles or cooks the fish and gives it an amazing flavor and texture. This tuna was raw. Served atop a beautiful citrus sauce with a generous portion of avocado to balance the acidity of the sauce. Don't get me wrong, it was wonderful to eat. Both dishes were wonderful to eat and I would order them again. However, I am confused at the use of the terminology. Or maybe I am just confused in general. This is often the case.

Anyway! I would gladly go again. We saw Derek Jeter in the corner with a stunningly beautiful young date. D & J swear upside down and sideways that his date was flirting with them "with her eyes" as she passed us to and from the ladies room. I am sure that she was. Nothing Jeter offers could possibly compare to the combined charm of those two! I say this in earnest.


Kristine G said...

you are soooo right ... that's not bacalao or ceviche. no way, no how ... pero, which olive did you like the best. for some reason the olive with the sugared orange sounds divine, but then again i love all things citrus.

Pepsi Monster said...

Wait up! You saw Derek Jeter at Rivera?? Wow!! I was thinking about going there last Friday. LOL

Vahe said...

The Olive you lost had a sliver of garlic in it

Food, she thought. said...

K: I posted this wee review on Chowhound and was slightly chastised for questioning the chef's practice if using the terminology of bacalao and seviche with dishes that have none of the characteristics of the real thing. The dishes certainly tasted good. That's not the way I owuld have titled them on my menu, but apparently everyone else finds nothing egregious about the tendency.

Pepsi: Yes, Jeter.

Vahe: I want it. I wonder if it is still on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Was his date Minka Kelly because I am trying to prove to people on a board that he is serious with her but they keep saying that he is cheating?