Saturday, September 12, 2009

Food Digger & Chef Redzikowski: Bond ST, Thompson Hotel Beverly Hills

9360 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 601-2255

This last week, Will and all the gentlemen behind Food Digger in partner with Chef Brian Redzikowski co-hosted a modern Japanese food extravaganza for a legion of food bloggers to introduce us all to Chef Redzikowski's food and think tank about the Food Digger restaurant review site and its features.

BondST is located in the Thompson Hotel on Wilshire in Beverly Hills. There were no surprises decor-wise in the hotel lobby (except a rude bartender when I asked him where the elevators were located). In the Thompson Hotel group are also included the Hollywood Roosevelt, the Thompson, Smyth Tribeca, 6 Columbus, and 60 Thompson all located in NYC. Here in LA anyway, the Thompson hotels are known for pandering to celebrities rather than the regular Joe which most likely explains the bartender but also explains their exclusive roof top lounge, where our sublime supper was located. Only Thompson Hotel guests and people who, "know someone" are allowed on the roof. Understandably so, I am sure they want to keep their roof elegant, above the fray of The Bazaar Bar Centro come-lately crowd.

Close to sunset guests linger at the roof top bar, lounge on the sofas and climb the stairway to linger poolside or chat in a cabana by a heat lamp. It really is a stunning space.

The Food Digger boys secured for us an antechamber to the bar area, an enclosed outdoor room for our private dining area so we could enjoy the last gasps of summer and watch the sun set on Wilshire heading west toward the Pacific.


Place settings were thoughtfully arranged.

As we arrived, we were greeted with a signature cocktail from BondSt's long list of tempting libations. Belvedere Vodka, Sake, Lemon Sour. The sake was definitely the bold note in this drink, tempering the strength of the vodka and the sour of the lemon.

Prior to dining, the thoughtful Chef Redzikowski addresses our table. He chats with us about his pedigree, the restaurants' approach to food and clientele, and his plans to rule the universe.

Chef Redzikowski hails directly from Joel Rubichon at The Mansion, via Matsuhisa, Aspen and Yellowtail at the Bellagio. Aways back, the inimitable SIV gave BondSt a zero star review. In the interim, Chef Redzikowski has taken over, reconceptualized and revamped the menu. I think SIV owes BondST reconsideration.

Chef Redzikowski tells us that BondST sushi while extremely successful in NYC, did not translate well to Los Angeles. I could wax on about my thoughts on NYC vs LA sushi, but really I have only the vaguest idea of what I am talking about so I will spare you. Chef Redzikowski's approach is to instead use western cooking techniques with Japanese food, utilizing a French aesthetic and contemporary methodologies to create something very different than what was originally BondST. He wants to interest foodies rather than focus on the fickle tastes of celebrity. He was definitely giving the right speech to the right audience. And he leads with a wonderful first course.

Prosecco Sangria

If you can imagine a sweet and fruity sangria combined with the effervescence of prosecco, then frozen into a thickly walled but hollow ball of deliciousness, this is it. I could see this as an intermezzo for cleansing the palate, but it is delightful and would be well received anywhere in a meal.

Quail Egg, Canadian Chanterelles, Parsley, Prosciutto

This tiny course was a perfect example of Chef Redzikowsk's style. One eater commented that this reminded her of escargot, which given the pureed parsley is not a bad comparison. However, I tasted no garlic in this dish and in a prototypical escargot garlic hits one over the head with a mallet.The flavor here is far more subtle, allowing the cooked quail egg to stand out richly against the parsley and mushroom.

Palari Faro 2003 Spain

From here on out, I will lead with the booze, because that's the order in which things appeared magically in front of me. This Palari Faro was stunning. Probably my favorite wine of the evening. A slightly velvety texture but with enough fruit to stand up to but not overpower its accompanying dish, the foie gras of the evening.

Foie Gras, Spiced Rice Crispy Treat, Yogurt in Three Forms

I was surprised this dish wasn't more unanimously adored. The foie gras mousse on top was lovely and thick, and the spicy rice crispy underneath did not overpower. I only got two forms of yogurt here, some thick white dry yogurt underneath the crispy, and a flat dry yogurt chip that you see leaning against the bite-sized hors d'ouevres. Lovely, but not sure I would order it from a menu knowing ahead of time what's to come. The yogurt was incredibly sweet, but the foie was yummy with the wine.

Zuiyo Junmai Sake

This is one of the more subtle sakes I have had recently. Wally's Wines describes this as a sake made for North American food, so it is fitting I suppose, that we drank this with the crab dish below and the ravioli dish that came after. Crafted in Kumamoto prefecture with an acidity level of 1.4 (which is a fairly neutral level), I wondered to myself as I started reading about sake at Wally's why i don't know more about something I drink so often. So off I go on a mini-internet research journey. This is what sucks my free time into the internet, the research possibilities are endless.

eSake tells me the following tidbits about the ginjo sake we drank at BondST and the sake that I drink regularly when I am eating Japanese food,

"The term "Ginjo" is synonomous with premium sake, the type of sake exported by eSake's brewers. Ginjo is not a brand name. It is a style (a grade, category, class) of sake. Ginjo sake is to regular sake what single malt scotch is to regular scotch, or what 100 % agave tequila is to regular tequila. Only 8% to 9% of all sake brewed is Ginjo grade. If you see the term "Ginjo" anywhere on the label, it means the sake you're about to drink is better than 90% of all sake out there.

Government regulations strictly define the meaning of the Ginjo classification. First and foremost is rice milling, which greatly influences the final taste. To legally qualify as a Ginjo (premium) sake, at least the outer 40% of the grain must be milled away. For Daiginjo (super premium sake) at least the outer 50% of the rice kernel must be milled away. On top of that, special rice (not table rice), special yeast, lower fermentation temperatures, longer periods of fermentation, and other labor-intensive techniques must be painstakingly followed in brewing Ginjo-level sake."

Typically, there are a couple of sakes I drink when out and about. Both are inexpensive, and breaking out into the world of more expensive sakes scares me a little because I already have some very expensive habits. I may choose not to educate myself further and simply remain drinking my Sayuri unfiltered and my Hakutsuru Junmai Ginjo sakes. At any rate, the sake we drank the other night at BondST was subtle and lovely, perfect with crab because it didn't overpower Chef Redzikowski's delicate flavors.

Alaskan King Crab in its Butter, Preserved Meyer Lemon

Chef Redzikowski in the kitchen is a bit like Taylor Dent at the net in a tennis match, both have very soft hands. Redzikowski handles flavors with kid gloves, teasing them out and delivering them to your palate like Dent gently massaging the side of the tennis ball to get it over the net with almost no bounce. This crab dish is the perfect example. Large hunks of King Crab in a delicate butter sauce with preserved Meyer lemon peel to brighten the flavor just a touch. I was left wanting more.

Le Grand Vallon Condrieu

This viogner was gorgeous. I heard someone to my left refer to this as too sweet, and I tasted nothing sweet about this whatsoever. Heady, rich and wonderful without a trace of oak or butter.

Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Ravioli, Beets, Ultra Mini Onions, Red Pepper Jus

This was one of the heartier tasting dishes, although the portion looks small. I could clearly taste the spot prawns underneath the flavor of the handmade ravioli, and I was entranced by the ultra mini onions, and...

one tiny beet, three perfect tarragon leaves. I ate each tarragon leaf separately. And I obviously had a good time shooting this dish. One major bonus of eating out with other food bloggers is the passionate fun had by all with our cameras. It is such a treat to know you aren't going to irritate someone, offend or surprise. Picture taking, sometimes at the expense of the food, is expected.

Louis Latour 2006 Montagny Premier Cru France

I have no recollection of this wine whatsoever.

Halibut, Parsley, Garlic Beurre Rouge

But I have huge recollection of this dish. I had the opportunity to revisit sous vide halibut. Like the tomato tasting dinner at Cafe Pinot downtown when I ate Chef Meehan's sous vide halibut, sous vide has changed the way I view halibut. I am never going to want to eat grilled or roasted halibut again. A sous vide halibut has the light flakiness of a Chilean sea bass but without the fattiness. This is a stunning way to prepare fish. And the beurre rouge reminds me of a dish served at Sud Ouest, the south-western French restaurant I bartended at in Knightsbridge, London. The chef poached a filet (in London pronounce the T) in red wine and then folded over the meat, making the fish look very much like an internal organ. It was a beautiful dish, but the meat of the sole was nowhere near as succulent and perfect as the meat of this halibut. Also, to the right of the dish are three compressed eggs. I have no clue what this entails and my internet research was no help whatsoever. The yolks were delicious and creamy, the whites were a little waxy.

During one of the several long interludes between courses during the 4 hour + meal, Will took a few people back to the tiny rooftop kitchen to watch the chefs cook our next dish. Chef Redzikowski was cooking for us in the tiniest kitchen I have ever seen. It is basically meant to be a service kitchen to the bar, almost as small as a galley kitchen on a small yacht, I kid not. However, transporting the food from the restaurant kitchen to our beautiful rooftop private dining room would be impossible, so instead the impractical had to suffice.

This plating is lyrical.

And one of Redzikowski's chefs pauses from the mania of cooking to smile quite happily for my camera. He is rather handsome.

Apparently, Will worked for weeks negotiating a final menu with Redzikowski. The chef wanted to showcase his talents unhindered by the requirements of the hotel for him to replicate some of the dishes from the NYC BondST, and Will desired a few of the menu items he deemed worthy of our palates. Above and below are the results of these negotiations with Redzikowski's notes to himself.

I have tried, where possible, to note items that appear on the regular menu. It must be hard as a reader to know that you cannot go and exactly repeat this menu, however the deliciousness I experienced definitely gives me cause to go back and try eating off the regular menu sometime soon.

Japanese Bouilabaisse, Lobster, Squid, Uni Rouille

This dish can be found on the menu, and indeed is featured in gas*tron*o*my's post about BondST under Chef Redzikowski. This you can try when you swing by for dinne. It is wonderful.

One nice thing to note for readers who might be future customers, gas*tron*o*my's portion of lobster was much larger, but she was ordering off the menu and not in the process of a 12 course dinner. Even so, my lobster claw was huge and generous, and there was plenty of squid. The broth had immense flavors of lobster shell, and the uni rouille was divine. I would love to take home a jar of that rouille, spread it on bread and eat like Poseidon.



Who doesn't love a Singha with their Vietnamese food?

Txakoli Xarmant Spain

I did not like this wine. It had a strange acidity level, and was incredibly herbal. Just not my cup of tea, but very distinctive. Made from a local Basque grape, the hondarribi zuri and aged in steel. Strange, I usually love whites aged in steel.

"Vietnamese Sandwich" Baguette, Pork, Pickled Carrots

Wins the award for the most adorable course of the evening. From across the table, I originally thought these were Vietnamese spring rolls, mais non.

4" pork banh mi, housemade baguettes (not rice flour), pickled carrots, micro greens (yes micro cilantro). Wonderful. Delicious. Enchanting. ZOMG.

Cotes du Rhone, France 2007

This was the most complex wine of the evening and it was perfect for the final savory course.

Sonoma Lamb Shoulder, Pureed Potatoes, Carrot-Ginger Cappucino

Oh, was I stuffed but oh was this wonderful, the perfect crescendo to the meal. The meat was so tender, had there been a bone to fall off of, it would have done so. Potatoes were light and smooth, the carrot-ginger cappucino was lovely with the right amount of acid to balance the creaminess of the potatoes.

Some genius across from me at this point in the meal decided this was the right time for a Manhattan, and I couldn't agree more. Sometimes during the course of a long meal, a strong cocktail can cut through the layers of food and settle one's tummy. Someone else brought back a wonderful cocktail from the tempting list called a Cartel, and I caved despite my early morning work hours.

The Cartel

Belvedere Orange Vodka, OJ, Cranberry Juice, Jalapeno. This could be my new drink for the still very hot fall season, finally replacing Pablo Moix's Green Intensity.

Mochi Donuts, Candied Rhubarb, Yogurt, Coconut Ice Cream

This was insane. The fried mochi was glassy and stiff on the outside, slightly soft on the inside. Fried mochi, sweet candied rhubarb and the coconut ice cream together were extremely sweet, I would have liked some acid in the dish. Despite that, it was just amazingly delicious. I could drive across town to eat this again.

I made my way toward a taxi after 11:30, already thinking about my 5:30 wake up time and missing two more dessert courses.

Also present at the BondST/Food Digger foodestival were: Caroline on Crack, Citynitz, Two Hungry Pandas, LA & OC Foodventures, Folie a Choisauce, KevinEats, and the Kung Food Panda.

Many, many thanks to the thoughtful and generous people behind the Food Digger restaurant review website and good luck as you plan and scheme to rule the restaurant review universe.

Bond St at the Thompson Hotel in Los Angeles


kevinEats said...

What about the last two courses?

Also, please check your links for "Folie a Choisauce, KevinEats, and the Kung Food Panda." ;)

Food, she thought. said...


As noted in the post, I left at 11:30 before the last two courses were served. I am shocked that your eagle eyes missed that! And for some reason I am having a hard time with the formatting of the blog links at the end. There is nothing amiss in the html coding, yet all three links stubbornly remain underlined together and linked together. Will try fixing on my desktop where my fingers work more nimbly and more quickly. :-)

World Vitamins Online said...

Looks very impressive.

Hall-E said...

Great write up! Love the notes on the wine pairings. Your pic of the Cartel is making me thirsty! :)