Friday, August 8, 2008

Spago (Los Angeles/Beverely Hills)

My most cherished dining partner and I made a pact at the beginning of the summer. We decided that we would eat through the best restaurants Los Angeles had to offer in an effort to explore its culinary topography. Being raised in Los Angeles we both have enjoyed the ethnic food the city has to offer but really never explored the fine dining options.

One of the restaurants high on the list is Spago. The DP and I were invited by her coworker to this luxurious restaurant.


One of the three two star restaurants in Los Angeles, the restaurant is located in Beverely Hills and property of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. You might know him from all the mall restaurants he has... luckily.. the mismanagement and ineptitude of the menus at those restaurants does not occur at Spago.

To get to our seat we passed by their open air dining area at the side of the restaurant.

Finally they sat us at our table which is along the glass windows that peer into the inner workings of the kitchen.

For our visit we tried to sample as much as possible.

First up is one of their signature dishes, the Sweet White Corn and Marscapone Agnolotti.

Little pockets of Agnolotti stuffed with sweet corn and Marscapone with a creamy sweet sauce covering the pasta. Each bite reveals a perfectly cooked pasta that bursts with the richness of the marscapone and freshness of the sweet corn. Outstanding dish, just hands down one of the most beautifully constructed dishes I've had in my life. Every part of it was perfectly cooked and the taste was exquisite.

The second appetizer was the mushroom gnocchi.

Firm yet delicate to the bite, the gnocchi is wonderfully cooked. The dish exudes the qualities of earth and dirt that the mushrooms come from.

For the first entree we had a Pan Roasted Halibut.

The Halibut as expected is flaky and moist. A halibut sits on a puree of sweet corn, marscapone, and wild mushroom. I'm not sure where the restaurant gets its sweet corn from but the rich sweetness is so explosive in flavor. Hints of cheese and earth, the sauce is so perfect to eat with the prepared side of carmalized onions, corn, and bits of bacon. The dish looks rather simple but it's truly a delight for your tastebuds.

Spago seems to have alot of chinese influenced dishes (more so on that later) and one in particular is the Steamed Florida Grouper Hong Kong Style.


They try to go for a twist on the steamed whole fish with soy sauce with this particular dish. The grouper itself was oily and flaky, thin pieces fell at a hint of pressure. The fish is cooked with hot chili oil, garlic, ginger, bok choy, and sugar snap peas. Just like the dish it is based off of, the focus is on the savory nature of the sauce, and it does not fail in its replication. The sauce is sweet with a tinge of spice.

Our final entree is truly a Chinese dish. Cantonese Style Roast Duck.

I had to order this, I was just so curious how the Chef was going to prepare this. The duck is roasted with Star Anise, Apricot (the orange fruit on the dish), pea sprouts, scallions, and ginger. Everything but the duck was great, the apricots were cooked with the spices so it's sweet and savory and the pea sprouts/scallions add the bite to tone down the sweetness. My problem with the dish is the duck seemed to be overcooked. A bit dry and chewy, something you'd never see at a Chinese restaurant, where the duck is usually incredibly moist due to the long marinade and roasting time.

But the real highlight of the dish, was the chow mein that came with it.

The perfect amount of sauce, scallions, mushrooms, bok choy, and noodle gives you a simple yet wonderfully created dish. It's hard to explain why I like this dish so much, but the ingredients just blend so well together and no one flavor overwhelms the other. The noodles are also soft yet chewy, perfect for slurping large bites!

Now on to dessert!

We had two desserts,

The Thousand layer cake with wild strawberries.


Crispy fila dough layed with rich strawberry cream and littered with tiny wild strawberries. By the way, the picture may not show the magnitude of the size of this dish. It is truly a wonder to behold. It is literally 6x6 inches.

But check out the berries.
Don't they look like raspberries? They have all the sweetness of a normal Enter text here.strawberry but in a bite size package.

A chocolate cake (sorry don't remember exactly what it was)


Overall a great experience. I highly suggest this restaurant and believe it should be on anyone's Los Angeles top fine dining destinations.

Spago
176 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Photobucket

5 comments:

honkman said...

Spago is very good restaurant which we visit from time to tim but I was a bit disappointed when we order a la carte. Some of the dishes were as outstanding as expected. So only way to go at Spago is with there tasting menue which has seven courses and about 6-7 amuse bouches which at Spago often have the size of a normal tasting menue course. In addition we were also offered an additional cheese plate for no extra cost whoch brings it to 13-14 courses for just $120. The only problem might be that they don't offer the tasting menu every day but you have to call them in advance.
Another great restaurant in LA is Hatfields which is also highly recommended for their seven course tasting menu. They have a more modern approach to food combinations (pork belly with vanilla etc.) which most of the time are outstanding. A nice feature of their tasting menu is that last time I went their with my wife we never got the same dish so that we could taste fourteen dishes (and a few extra amuse bouches). Again a steal for just $79.

Charlie Fu said...

Honkman: Agreed, but we had multiple people at the table, hard to get a group of people to order a tasting menu. I do not agree the Tasting menu is the only way to go, because a tasting menu is not completely void of bad dishes.

We went to Hatfields last Tuesday and enjoyed that as well. Once again, same problem too many people to order a tasting menu.

Charlie Fu said...

If anyone wants to read a blogger who's eaten the tasting menu recently at Spago feel free to go to

http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/08/wonderful-food-amidst-stars-spago.html

$165 a person, and about 10-11 (11 if you count sweets) dishes.

Nancy Deprez said...

Thank you for a great review, and those pics are awesome!

I liked what I heard with those first 2 dishes, but since I don't like fusion, I probably would not go to Spago given your info here.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm the desserts look great! Can't wait to go and try it! Thanks for the review!