DineLA calls to all food people and lovers of nightlife, come out during the recession and taste our wares, open your wallet a teeny tiny bit, try something new. Or an old favorite at a bargain price. Restaurants of all levels all over Los Angeles offer a three-course prix-fixe menu at lower prices than you would normally find on their regular menu. I don't always love DineLA. A couple times I have experienced food or service not quite up to par for the norm, but this was an exception. The food was delightful and generous, and the service luxurious (read, a teeny bit slow) and professional but warm. I was inspired to try Petrossian based on last fall's DineLA review by Jo of My Last Bite. Thanks, Jo!
D and I stumbled into Petrossian on a stormy night, early for our reservation. As we sat and sipped at some fizz, I was reminded somehow of the rainy nights of London in my twenties. For many months I worked at Sud Ouest, a French restaurant in Knightsbridge across the road from Harrod's. Most of these months were wintertime. On rainy nights the international staff would lean against my small bar staring out the windows at the wet, imagining Paris, Prague, Melbourne, California while we waited on customers willing to brave the elements for a beautiful dinner in the quiet candlelit dining room.
Our dining companions arrived, we settled into a banquette to catch up and peruse the menu.
Petrossian's kitchen has Chef Ben Bailly currently at the helm. ChefDB.com tells me he arrives via previous stints at Joël Robuchon in Paris, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas and Joël Robuchon in Monaco. Impressionant! The kitchen sent out as an amuse a round of blinis with caviar and dill creme frâiche.
The three caviars starting from top left and moving clockwise were trout, salmon and sturgeon. They sent out six, which was an odd number for a party of four, but we happily shared. The potato pancakes were light and fluffy but substantial.
Our choices for starters were green bean salad, shrimp papillote and a salmon sampler.
My salmon sampler; my favorite part of the meal. Clockwise again from upper left: black sea spice, dill, and classic smoked salmon. Don't think of the flat thin layers of lox you would get mit bagel, all three pieces were generous chunks of lush salmon. I would happily return for this again, I haven't had better.
Shrimp papillote. Both D & D fell for the shrimp papillote. When I think of papillote, a protein baked in paper is what comes to mind. These were reminiscent of a Chinese appetizer, in a kind of sweet/savory/sticky sauce with red chile flakes. Shrimp in folded pastry. Curious.
For mains we chose from halibut brandade, braised pork belly, and crispy peanut egg.
In between, however, we were treated to an intermezzo of borscht-like beet puree soup. The earthy flavors were lovely on the cold damp night.
Both Y and I ordered the braised pork belly with polenta. This was amazing, rich but delicious. The polenta was incredibly cheesy, as it chilled it stiffened a bit. The belly itself was pretty lean compared to other bellies I have had in the last year, which I like. The flavor was immense with caramelized onion and a sweetness to the reduction.
My D tried to play it safe with a fish dish, but not being familiar with brandade he was a little surprised on arrival. Brandade, a dish from Languedoc or Provence, is typically a puree of salt cod, olive oil and milk or cream, often served with toast points or bread. This version from halibut was less salty and a little less creamy than some brandades I have had and there is nothing on the planet a poached egg won't make more wonderful. I thought it was lovely, and D, although taken aback, ate every bite.
The other D? Well let's just say that the crispy peanut egg was not a play on words. This was literally a soft boiled egg crusted with peanuts in a creamy soup accessorized by dollops of caviar. He said, and I quote, "the sum is not necessarily better than its parts". Oh well.
Dessert course. Vanilla panna cotta, crème brûlée and molten chocolate cake with ice cream covered in pistachios.
One of the nice things about DineLA is that it forces me out of my self-imposed dessert shell. Dessert is one of the courses and I must choose one. I love a panna cotta and this was marvelous, with lots of glazed strawberries and crumbled pistachio. The portion wasn't overwhelming, it was just right. Happiness.
D ordered and devoured the molten chocolate cake and pistachio covered ice cream...we all took a deep sigh paid the check and headed out into the rain.
On the way home between restaurant and taxi, D and I ducked into the Stone Rose Lounge at the Sofitel and washed down all the richness with vodka martinis. Our feet were wet but our martinis were dry.
Another practice from my days in London, popping into a posh hotel with a friend to dry off and enjoy a post-shift cocktail. There are no posh hotels in Echo Park. Not a lot makes me miss my days in London, but I definitely had a moment there.