Monday, March 12, 2012

Ben Bailly at Cliff's Edge

Cliff's Edge
3626 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

I have been darkening the doorstep of Cliff's Edge since it opened in 2004; birthday parties, Sunset Junction blow outs, cocktails with friends at the bar, I have always enjoyed the space. It's exciting to me that a local restaurant scored James Beard nominated Chef Benjamin Bailly to take over the kitchen and elevate the menu to heights worthy of this inviting inside/outside space. Last week public relations rep Bradley invited two other bloggers and me in for a peek and a nosh. I was duly impressed. I liked what I ate yet also feel like this is still a space I can frequent regularly based on the variety and quality of food and the price point. I like the fact that there are lots of small plate options but it's not a small plates restaurant, per se. The menu is varied, which opens it up as a venue for different occasions.

We started with cocktails, of course. I sipped a cucumber margarita, lovely blend of flavors. D would love the punch of cucumber with the zing of tequila.

Food wise, I was intrigued by the whipped ricotta with lavender blossoms and honey.

Not wrongly, this was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The balance of sweet honey against the herbal lavender was lovely with the whipped ricotta, spread across thin crisp breads. This would make an excellent cheese or dessert course.

I almost always cave on whatever Brussels sprouts dish is on a menu and am a little picky, so many tend to be over salted or over vinegared. This was neither...although there was a creaminess to it that was unexpected and not unpleasant.

I requested the chick pea fritters, stacked like Lincoln logs with a rosemary/lemon aoili.

I resent it when French fries are served this style, but since chick peas can't naturally be formed into perfect "fries", I am more open to playing with their texture. These are delightful. Crispy and hot on the outside, fluffy and light on the inside.

I probably wouldn't have chosen the burrata anchovy bruschetta myself, given the roasted red bell peppers on the bottom. I find bell peppers to be so overwhelming in many dishes. It didn't seem so in this nibble, given the briny strength of the anchovy.

The seared scallops are definitely a D dish.

Two large sea scallops seared perfectly over cauliflower just barely caramelized around the edges, vadouvan, a pureed salsa verde and cooling yogurt sauce. This is entree worthy, but also very shareable. 

Lamb cheeks were another one of my requests.

With celery root puree and rapini, the braise on the cheeks coupled with the rapini reminds me a little of Suzanne Goins' famous short ribs with horseradish cream and broccoli rabe. Comfort food at its best, this is a destination worthy dish.

The only item I was lukewarm on was the sea bream en papillote. I love the healthy preparation (and chances are I will order this again if we swing by when I am "eating healthy"), but I found it a little lacking in flavor.

The desserts? This non-dessert girl stuffed her face.

Lemon creme brulee tart with raspberry coulis. Constructed perfectly with a nice crust. Nothing to complain about here, lemon curd rules.

Pistachio creme brulee. This was very light in texture, the brulee very caramelized almost to burnt but I loved it.

And this kind of unassuming little ramekin of stuff? OMG it's a chocolate budino with gianduja. Chocolate/hazelnut heaven.

Part of what thrills me here is the variety on the menu and the quality of ingredients. I am pleased that Bailly hasn't strayed far from the Mediterranean/Italian roots of Cliff's Edge's earlier menu. It's also just fun to have followed Bailly through the progression from the delicate and precious eats at Petrossian, to the casual French fare at Fraiche, now cooking Mediterranean in my own front yard. In this era of taxis and buses, I am pleased Bailly is so close by for spring and summer al fresco dining at Cliff's Edge. I have my eye on the crispy polenta with a sunny egg, sometime soon.

Disclosure: Meal was hosted with generosity by Cliff's Edge. Images courtesy of iPhone 4S and Instagram. (They kind of suck this time, but that's half the fun...I never know for certain what I am going to get.)


tgirl said...

I ate there a couple weeks ago with a girlfriend and LOVED the food. Will gladly meet you there any time for noms & sips.

Food, she thought. said...

It's a date, tgirl!