Saturday, January 23, 2010

Revisiting Rivera

1050 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-5100
(213) 749-1460

I have been a fan of Jonathon Rivera Sedlar's food since Rivera opened its doors in early 2009, here J Gold comments.  We have visited several times for both food and drink, I have eaten his food at special events, and been inspired to attempt his food in my own kitchen.  Finally ready to break my annual blogging hiatus, D and I made an 8 o'clock and headed down the hill in a taxi looking forward to more culinary bliss.

D started with vodka.  Sedlar is a genius at presentation...genius. And his drinks program behind the bar reflects both his presentation esthetic and penchant for saturated flavors.  I was therefore a little disappointed that my rum & coke looked exactly the way it does when it is served to me at El Compadre.  LOL.

D started with beautiful Kumamoto oysters on the half shell with julienned peppers and wasabi caviar. What needs to be said about simple perfection?

My starter was the best thing I ate all night. Grilled quail with black beans and what I think were Maitake mushrooms, and lots of them.  This dish had a beautiful smokey flavor, the beans added a richness and dense texture. The quail was grilled perfectly, moist but not even a trace undercooked.  I want this again, and must return before Sedlar changes to a spring menu.

D toyed with the idea of U-10 scallops from the specials list, but our wonderful server informed us they were extremely garlicky last night and D is not a huge fan of garlic. It needs to be supporting cast, not headlining.  Instead, he ate a seared halibut with tomatillos and tempura'd sweet chiles on a bed of spinach.  Backflips. Rounds of hubba hubba. General enthusiasm.  The halibut was incredibly moist for halibut, which I sometimes find dry. Excellent dish. D would not shut up about the tempura'd chiles. Really.

Being drawn to richness in the first course, I turned to the veggie plate for my entree.  When D and I started dating, back in the stone age, we frequented the sadly now defunct Vida in Silverlake.  Vida was the baby of chef Fred Eric now of Fred62.  Eric offered a vegetable plate on the menu that was out of this world. Seasonal vegetables in a little pastry bowl with a garlic nage.  I ordered this almost every time we ate there, which was often.  I often muse that delicious vegetable are one of the hallmarks of a great chef.  Last night I was so in the mood for some delicious and creative veg. Our server, and I quote, said, "You will not be disappointed". I had mixed feelings about the plate.

Baby rolled corn taco.  Kinda dry. No flavor that really popped. Meh.

I fully expected this to be amazing. Sedlar graces many of his mains with this chunk of purple potato and round of butternut squash, have eaten it several times and love it. Last night my potato was undercooked. *cries* The squash was perfect.

This was delicious. Housemade potato xips layered with butternut squash puree on a shiso leaf. Really, how could you lose. You could not. You could not lose. Also in the middle of the plate was a pile of cooked spinach. I am not sure what the spinach was flavored with but it was outstanding. I gobbled it down quickly.

The best item on the mixed plate was a grilled chile on a little bed of burrata. The wonderful grilled flavors of the sweet chile were bright and smokey at the same time against the creaminess of the burrata. This could be/should be an appetizer.

I found some elements of the vegetable plate wonderful, and a few lacking.  It surprised me a little that it lacked cohesion. It really wasn't a dish per se, but rather several side items. I enjoyed it for the most part, and when the season changes and different vegetables are locally available I'd like to see how the veggie plate changes.

D could not resist asking, and both our server and the kitchen indulged his adoration of the tempura'd chiles by making us an entire order. With a tempura'd shiso leaf that I quickly commandeered. Definitely a highlight.

Service was beyond compare, as usual, and we had a wonderful time. Again.


Dave -nibbleanibble said...

The oysters look delightfully good. Now I'm craving some "perfection."

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

I have yet to enjoy Rivera, but it is on my list for this year! Sadly enough I also never enjoyed Vida, but am an avid admirer of Fred62. What should I order on my first Rivera trip? I might skip those veggies, but the tempura chiles look fantastic!

Kristine said...

noms that tempura shiso leaf ... oh, and the rest of those tempura-ed peppers. will have to check out riviera soon! :)

Claire said...

what a beautiful looking dinner, sounds delicious

Diana said...

I have made reservations to Rivera on three separate occasions and every single time the other person has cancelled on me! I won't miss it in 2010 - and I think there could be some halibut in my future. :)

streetgourmetla said...

Hey Liz, it was actually you and one other that first brought Rivera to my attention, so thanks! I'm now a regular.Great post.

Term papers said...

Your starter was the best thing You ate all night. Grilled quail with black beans and what You think were Mai take mushrooms, and lots of them. This dish had a beautiful smokey flavor, the beans added a richness and dense texture. The quail was grilled perfectly, moist but not even a trace undercooked. You want this again, and must return before Sedlar changes to a spring menu.

Hobson's Choice said...

You had me with tempura chiles and shiso. I have enjoyed many great meals at Rivera (easy since I work downtown) and I look forward to the next.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Food, she thought,

Thank you for a great follow-up on Rivera. I'm so glad to hear it's still good. :) I love the Quail there as well! :)

Now I'll have to try the Tempura Chili you've written about. It looks delicious. :)