Talk about a wonderful dining experience in one of the most recognizable locations in Los Angeles. As the flagship restaurant of the Patina Restaurant Group (PRG), Patina has been serving up wonderful dishes under some notable chefs since 1989 (when I was just a wee lad of 1). Age being placed out in the blogosphere, I was, for a lack of fancier words, excited to be eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant for the first time. Pulling up to the world famous Walt Disney Concert Hall, I noticed that the facade of Patina blends seamlessly with Frank Gehry’s expressionist design that has enthralled Angelenos and tourists alike since 2003.
The simple, yet balanced exterior right off of Grand Ave.
It was my father’s birthday and I decided to take him somewhere special and out of his comfort zone. The minute we stepped in the door, we were treated to amazing hospitality and a celebrity spotting of highest caliber. Dame Judi Dench herself was finishing up a meal before watching the LA Philharmonic play in the concert hall with what seemed to be her extended family. Born into a family of James Bond fans, I waved at the Dame and we “appropriately” smiled at her as she walked out. If this were any other restaurant, location or event, I would have been in crazy paparazzo mode. Alas.
The staff were very helpful in guiding us to a delicious meal, always checking in on us to help answer any questions we might have about a word in a description. Mind you, Hindu families are not usually known to venture out into California-French restaurants, so many a question were asked to our hosts. Those questions were answered with ease and no embarrassment. I took Spanish in school, not French, so 1/3 of the menu was a blur to my brain.
Amuse Bouche: Lentil Truffle Oil Soup
Loaf 1/3: Green Olive
Loaf 2/3: Pain epi
Loaf 3/3: Seven Grain
Seasonal Glazed Vegetable Mosaic: Jus De Cuisson & Lemon Oil ($22)
A quick Yelp search for Patina and one can instantly notice that the “Vegetable Mosaic” is a winner with just about every “critic” on the site. It was the first thing my strictly vegetarian mother noticed and wanted, so without hesitation we ordered the dish. Each item on the plate above was meticulously prepared and plated, so that the diner had an interesting kaleidoscopic view in front of them. The lemon oil added enough tart to make the flavors pop. In this case, my picture is not worth a thousand words at all. There was one issue I had while photographing out plates: the lighting. After checking out some older posts from other bloggers, it seems to be an issue that has lasted for many years. The almost butter-yellow lighting in the ceiling tended to inflict a warm hue to almost everything I documented.
Parsnip Agnolotti with Sweetbread Meunière, glazed pearl onion, chlorophyll jus ($25)
I will admit I am a novice when it comes to “California cuisine” and that I had never eaten a sweetbread dish, which apparently is one of the classic items that come to mind when one speaks of this cooking style. The Agnolotti was muted but delicious as the sweetbread pieces and the chlorophyll jus made my tastebuds work for the flavor. This plate was definitely something I had never tried before so pardon my amateur description.
The Art of Truffle Shaving
Black Truffle Risotto with Crunchy Celery & Shaved Black Truffle ($50)
Originally I had planned on booking reservations for their black truffle pairing night but was unable due to my travels in India. Lucky for me that they still had one truffle item on their menu. I was always a fan of truffle oil, which according to critics around the world, is a cheap imitation. Cut to my eating Chef Tony Esnault’s interpretation of a classic Italian dish covered in shavings of pure black truffles and tears rolling down my cheeks (if only). The art of risotto is in the preparation of the rice and the Patina team had no problem perfecting that art. Each morsel was soft and fluffy and the shavings of black truffle added a rich flavor. I was impressed.
Seared Day Boat Scallops with contrast of cauliflower, crostini, capers ($40)
My first scallops dish ever. I had restricted seafood from my diet since birth due to my strict upbringing and fear of mercury poisoning. Growing up in LA, however, makes it difficult for me to get by without friends wanting to hit up the local boiling-crab shack-schmick’s eatery and my interest soon began to grow. Each scallop was caramelized and seared to (what I think is) perfection. The melange of cauliflower and crostini added for a nice visual and flavorful combination with the scallops. Consider me sold on scallops from now on!
Prime Beef Tenderloin Glazed Short Ribs with Contrast of Celery ($44)
Hazelnut Panna Cotta meyer lemon, gianduja sablé ($14)
Like mixing the richness of ferrero rocher, nutella and pure chocolate into four small pieces of dessert, the hazelnut panna cotta was by far one of the most memorable desserts I have ever had the opportunity to consume. It looks cold and heavy but in actuality it was lightly whipped and had just the right amount of sweet.
Warm Brioche Beignet with creamy banana, espresso mousse & almonds ($14)
I never thought bananas and beignets would work well together, but Chef Esnault brought it to my attention that it can with this hot/cold dessert. Add a spoonful of the espresso mousse and I felt as if I were on a patio of a Parisian cafe drinking coffee and having breakfast.
Mandarin Glacée vanilla crème, salted butter crumble tarragon meringue ($14)
Light Milk Chocolate Mousse cocoa nib cake, sassafras ice cream ($14)
Green Apple And Yogurt Battera Crispy Meringue ($14)
Happy Birthday Mignardises for my Dad: Chocolate brownie mini-cups w/ gold leaf, Meyer Lemon Gels, White Chocolate Coins w/ fruit & nuts
With over a dozen dishes devoured from amuse bouche to the array of desserts (with some amazing wine pairings by the sommelier of course), my family and I could barely get up and walk out the door. A few weeks later, I had attended a release event at the Willliams-Sonoma store in Beverly Hills where Patina was catering. It goes without saying that the food and desserts served at the event were just as satisfying and scrumptious as the ones my family enjoyed at the restaurant.
Definitely visit Patina if not for dinner, then for a pre-orchestra drink and snack. They have a separate bar area and the drink menu does not disappoint. Patina has raised my expectations of similar restaurants in California and anywhere else I may venture.
The rest of my pictures from this family affair are here (link also on sidebar) : Patina Restaurant
141 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 972-3331 Twitter: @PatinaDTLA
– gmangoman a.k.a. Hemang