Mid summer, I took a trip out to the west coast to Los Angeles, a city that I am very fond of. I went to visit friends but more importantly I went to attend the Sound and Fury festival in DTLA at the Regent Theatre. When I was in LA I wanted to eat something borderline arrogant. Some may say the farm to table movement has not really soaked into the fibers of the LA culinary scene but that is not true, you just have to know where to look. I wanted to eat at Bestia but didn’t make it there. Animal was also on my list, didn’t make it there either. My trip was nearing its last days and I had not had the fine dining experience I was looking for. Standing outside the theatre on the last day of the festival I looked around at all my friends and I said, “Who wants to eat a real meal with me, like really throw down, c’mon, will someone go with me?” Knowing how I get down the crowd started to thin and move away from me. I heard a voice come from behind me say, “I’ll go with you Ben.” I turn and to my delight it was my hilarious green-haired buddy Austin from Boston, Massachusetts. I looked at him and said, “you sure?” He nodded in approval and I pulled out my phone. I started scouring the area for something good, thinking to myself all the while, “we are in downtown LA, there HAS to be an outrageous restaurant somewhere.” Something catches my eye, a French restaurant by the name of Patina, and by mother fucking golly it has a Michelin Star. I could feel the dopamine rushing into my receptors that control arousal, springing forth my food boner. It was a ½ mile walk from the venue, we started walking. Now mind you, it’s not even that hot out, but the walk from The Regent to the Walt Disney Concert Hall where Patina is housed is ALL UP HILL. I was wishing I had Ubered only because I did not want to enter this restaurant looking like a sweaty idiot. Also mind you, we are both in shorts, Austin’s hair is green, he is wearing a nice Fred Perry tee however I have on a Krieg shirt with a dead goat, crescent moon and inverted cross on it. Did I fail to mention I was also wearing a camouflage backpack like a true hardcore piece of shit? We get to the door and I look and I already know we are fucked, this place is NICE. Hoping there would be two spots at the bar, we enter. “Grippo, reservation for two” I say. “Ah Mr. Grippo! So excited you will be dining with us this evening! May I take your book bag to the coat check?” A man in a suit literally walks over and takes my backpack off of me. I tell him I needed to go to the bathroom and wash my face first. Little did they know I went in the bathroom and powdered my whole midsection, I was feeling better now and I relinquished my bag. We were seated and I grabbed the menu but not before grabbing a few glamorous mocktails to cool us from our arduous uphill hike. As I reviewed the menu I noticed something, there were three pre-fixe options. Three courses, five courses or eight courses. I looked at Austin and we started to pick and choose off of the three respective menus but then I realized you have to stay within the parameters of the pre-fixe, you can’t go hopping around. On top of that, it is expected that each guest get the same pre-fixe, so I couldn’t get the eight and Austin couldn’t get the three, which I understand, it’s not good practice and makes the dishes that are coming to the table uneven. After a persuading conversation with the server we were told that it would be fine if we wanted an eight and a three course tasting, they made an exception for the scumbags. Before we get started, here is a small passage explaining the vibe of Patina and Executive Chef Paul Lee.
I’m just going to go off the record and say that between every course there were little offerings from the kitchen to keep the palate elasticized. I can’t remember them all but I do know that the first was my favorite; it was an oyster with shaved lemon ice or granita on top, so good.
The first two courses were Japanese Tai Carpaccio and the Nectarine Salad, both were to die for. The Carpaccio was served with watermelon radish, basil, finger lime in a smoked consume. The Nectarine Salad had my fave in it, BURRATA, with heirloom lettuce, cucumber and black vinegar.
The next three dishes to come out were the Charred Octopus, Squid Ink Chitarra and the Escargot. The octopus was one of my favorite dishes of the night. Cooked perfectly tender, not chewy at all, plated with chorizo, basil, tomatillo and celery. The Chitarra was by far the prettiest. Chitarra, which is a variety of egg pasta typical of Abruzzo, Italy, was black from the squid ink and paired with the most delicious companions. Served with foie butter, lobster and uni, how could you not! Finally for the small plates was the Escargot. This escargot was different from what I’ve been eating because it was not placed in shells OR in an escargot bowl. It was placed ever so perfectly in PORRIDGE. This was absolutely genius and Austin also enjoyed this dish, as daring as it was for a non-snail-eater. In the porridge was Iberico ham, parsley and Beurre de Baratte. I’m not even going to front like I know what that is so I looked it up. Beurre de Baratte is a process used in French dairies to make a certain type of butter. Milk is "soured" with bacterial starter cultures. This develops the flavor, thickens the cream and the butter globules begin forming. The buttermilk is then spun off, and the butter globules are creamed with a churning machine, rather than with a centrifugal method continuous churn. Some manufacturers separate the milk from the cream at the start, keep the cream, add more cream on top, then start making the butter.
Next were our two main courses, the Liberty Duck and the Omaha Beef Tenderloin. Ok, first, the duck plated beautifully buttttt, not a fan. This was the only dish I did not like. I really don’t know why, I think it had a lot to do with the texture of the duck and how they were plated to resemble pork belly. I like a crispy skinned duck, this was not. The beef though? Excellent! Served with burnt scallion, spinach, Bearnaise mousse and Pomme Dauphinois. I know pomme means potatoes but I still had to do some research. A term applied to a traditional French potato dish from the Dauphine in Savoy region, near the Italian border. This dish, often referred to as "pommes dauphinoise," contains potatoes that have been peeled and sliced, which are then cooked with heavy cream and seasonings such as herbs, pepper and mustard. These fucking pommes were TASTY.
Now it was time to have dessert, and we got three. Frozen Foie Gras, a corn based dessert and a chocolate dessert. First was my favorite, the Foie. Served frozen and shaved with Harry’s Berries (small baby strawberries), candied pistachio and 15 year aged balsamic this was my favorite dessert and up there with one of the best things I ate on this night. The buttery taste you get from the foie while it is shaved thin and frozen is an unmatched taste. This next dessert, only called “Corn”, was very good. Served with lime marshmallows, coconut, yogurt and milk ice cream, this dish was unique due to the ingredients alone. The last dessert, “chocolate”, was my least favorite of the three but still good. This dessert consisted of malt, yuzu, coffee and peanut, a nice taste to finish off the night.
We paid the bill, gathered our belongings and exited Patina with a little more food knowledge than we entered with. We finished the dining experience in a $30 Uber black ride, making the quarter mile trek back to the venue in a 600 series Benz flagship, just so we looked cool in front of the club. When we pulled up and had the door opened for us, and of course, none of our friends were to be found.
I hereby give Patina....
Join me next time when I review Otto in Chester, CT.