Sunday, November 13, 2011

What's Up, Rivera? Fall 2011

1050 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Last week D and I stopped in at his favorite restaurant, Rivera, to check out the happs. All is well at our favorite upscale Latin food venue. Had a beautiful meal and excellent service.


In a bold move, D started with a cocktail. There is almost nothing D loves more than tequila or beef jerky, except tequila and beef jerky together in spicy/sweet capsicum cocktail, the Barbacoa. This time he ordered it with mezcal for a smoky punch. We ran into our friend Colin that night (now general manager of gorgeous new cocktail bar Monty in Westlake) and influenced his drinking decisions as well. When we saw him last night at Monty, he thanked us for the cocktail rec.


Since our visit to Spain last summer, I crave stuffed piquillo peppers as soon as I see them on a menu or the minute someone mentions their name.  Piquillos at Rivera are a cut above all the piquillos I ate at pintxo bars up and down Barcelona at all hours of the day and night  (typically stuffed simply with goat cheese). Sedlar's are stuffed with raisins, chorizo and gruyere. To be honest, they are heavier on the gruyere with just a touch of raisin or chorizo. I would like to taste the stronger flavors of the chorizo and raisin with a little more pop. Still, delicious, drizzled with luscious olive oil, topped with chives.


We shared the mussels. Steamed in a pisco aji amarillo broth. Perfectly tender, melt in your mouth mussels. I would expect nothing less out of Sedlar's kitchen.  There is more than a little pedigree in Jonathon Rivera Sedlar's kitchen. Esquire has named him chef of 2011, he has a place in Food + Wine magazine's Honor Roll of American Chefs and was even a Top Chef Master! Do I care? Not really, as long as the food is good I am unconcerned with awards. However, I did enjoy watching someone whose food I eat a few times a year compete on Bravo. (I love tv too much.) Point being, those mussels were cooked to the exact deliciousness one would expect from a chef so lauded.


We both ate seared sea scallops on an eggplant bed with preserved lemon and ras al hanout, Moorish style. The Arabic script across the plate in ras al hanout spells arabesque, the name of the dish. There are several references to Middle Eastern food strewn about the Rivera menu: ras al hanout, preserved lemons, eggplant, Moorish spices, medjool dates. The Moors conquest of the Iberian peninsula in 711 brought many Middle Eastern food stuffs to Spain, including cumin, olives coriander, aniseed, saffron and more. The fact that Tarifa at the tip of Spain is only 15 km from Morocco across the Straits of Gibralter doesn't exactly inhibit the cultural drift that makes Spanish food both so beautifully diverse and pungently flavorful. Rivera's menu reflects both the varied flavors found in Spain and also the central American food we Los Angelenos know and love so well, elevating ingredients to levels of elegance while still offering flavors that are often familiar and comforting. Wrapping up my tangent, the scallops were wonderful.

Things remain exactly as we left them last time at Rivera. Delicious.


tallnoe said...

I was going to write you a comment, but decided against it. I'll email you instead...

Suffice it to say, I love Rivera's drinks, over and above the food!

Alexander said...

I think, now, I have to go there! To see for myself!