Wining/Dining

CHECKING OUT LA’S NEWEST STAR CHEF

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Was scheduling a dinner in December at The Grove, one of LA’s busiest open-air shopping/dining malls, the brightest idea?  Probably not.  Believe me, I heard plenty as the hubby, daughter (her birthday dinner) and son arrived in separate cars all juggling to find that coveted parking space.
 
Happily, dinner at 189 by Dominque Ansel was well worth some minor inconvenience.  And what was so compelling about this particular venue?  Chef Ansel has gained enormous notoriety for introducing the world to the Cronut (part croissant, part donut), first served at his eponymous Soho bakery back in 2013.  Frankly I hadn’t heard of him personally, just of the item.  So when reading about the newest openings in LA, I thought this must be worth a try.  
 

 

Amazing croissants and bread above; right are some pastry with the exquisite packaging.
We had a mini version of the gooseberry pavlova for dessert — scrumptious!

 

The restaurant is above the bakery (open until 9pm).  Alas, the cronuts had run out by the time I arrived but I did sample some incredible croissant and everything is beautifully displayed.  
 
 
 

 

What I liked most about the restaurant was the very well-informed staff guiding us through the appropriate number of dishes (4 small/3 larger) all meant to be shared.  The order of excellent “salt & pepper ribs” comes with three but they enlarged it to four so we’d each have one.  That may seem like a small detail, but not having to get a second full order was appreciated.

 

I love to sit at the counter and watch the action
As one might expect, the “48-hour Handmade Sourdough & Butter” was perfection — not a surprise since Chef Ansel is first and foremost a baker.  The other outstanding dishes were the roasted radicchio salad, eggplant and fig tartine and the lamb shoulder was a huge hit.  The “Spoon-tender Cabbage Soup” — similar in presentation to french onion — was the only miss of the dinner.  Why?  Too smoky for our taste.  Our server was very interested in how to communicate our feedback to the kitchen as that is how they learn this early in their operation (open just a month).
Left:  the sourdough;
above: roasted radicchio salad;
Fig and eggplant tartine
Frankly I don’t know all what we had for dessert except the pavlova mentioned above; I think some were compliments for the birthday or maybe they just liked us!  All were delicious.  
So what’s the takeaway?  I’m going back for a return visit with some fellow foodies, happily after the holiday season.  Going to The Grove is a fun and delicious experience; just know that their parking can be a wild ride at peak times of the year!