Wednesday, July 11, 2007

SPAGO, Beverly Hills, CA

Although Suni and I make it a point to only post those food experiences that we take part in together, every once in a while one of us will visit a restaurant so “blog-worthy” that we are compelled to include it. Such a restaurant is Spago, a quintessential LA restaurant frequented by celebs and those with money to burn. Is it worth the hype? Keep reading to find out.

With Reggiano and Sage
I must say, this was utterly fantastic. Light pillows of corn and mascarpone filled pasta swimming in a sweet corn sauce with a sprinkle of caramelized corn kernels…it truly melted in my mouth. Unfortunately it was served with a fork rather than a spoon and the fork just wasn’t letting me eat it fast enough. It was actually quite hard to keep myself from picking up the plate and pouring it into my mouth. But I held myself back in the name of proper etiquette, although I did end up with an almost perfectly clean plate thanks to a lingering chunk of crusty bread.

Farmer’s Cheese, Parmesan, Mint, Chervil and Hazelnut Brown Butter
My friend ordered one of the other pastas on the menu that called out to me as well, and it did not disappoint. The cheese and herb-filled ravioli were drowned in a delectably rich brown butter sauce with hazelnuts. With both of our pasta dishes being on the heavier side, we could of stopped there and been happy. Glad we didn't.

Chana Dal Lentils, Eggplant-Shallot Masala,
Cucumber Relish, Cilantro-Mint Raita and Indian Spices
I actually had a tough time choosing a main dish, since Spago’s menu is quite fish-heavy and I don’t generally order fish when I go out. However, the Indian flavors of this dish lured me in, and I’m glad that it did. The salmon was perfectly moist, and the accompanying Indian sauces and spices were amazing. Not too strong or heavy, the flavors melded together and created a really nice balance. Again, the only thing left on my plate when I was finished with the sprig of lavender garnish.

Garlic, Chili Oil, Ginger, Baby Bok Choy, Snap Peas and Jasmine Rice
I encouraged my friend to get the Hong-Kong style cod because it was similar to Miso Black Cod, which is one of my all-time favorites. The fish was cooked absolutely perfectly, and was incredibly moist and flaky. It was served with fluffy jasmine rice, a nice sauté of mixed Asian vegetables, and a light soy-based sauce that didn’t overpower the delicate fish. Overall a wonderful dish filled with interesting textures and flavors.

Raspberry Sorbet, meringue

Luckily my friend also enjoys decadent chocolate desserts, so it didn’t take us long to choose the chocolate duo as our finish to an already great meal. Also lucky for me, my friend was quite full by that point so I got to eat most of it. The problem was that by this time I had already consumed a half of bottle of wine so I honestly can’t remember the dessert enough to describe it in great detail. I do remember there being three layers of rich chocolate; the top was warm and fudgy, the center creamy, and the bottom a yummy chocolate crust. Immersed in interesting conversation, I polished it off without really thinking about it, although I do remember that it was really quite good.

The verdict? With all the hype surrounding Spago, I had really high expectations. From my other trips to high-end restaurants, I was rather surprised that Spago didn’t treat diners to an Amuse-bouche or petit-four, which of course would have meant that I could sample more of Wolfgang Puck’s innovative creations. I will definitely need to go back and try their tasting menu, which supposedly is where their stars really shine. But all things considered, Spago isn’t just about the glitz and glam – they have great service, a beautiful courtyard patio, and most importantly, the food to back it up.

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