Full disclosure: I haven’t been to Lucques in ages & AOC is a mere shadow of a happy memory. While Ms. Silverton was busy cavorting about town, holding talks, contributing to food festivals, etc., Ms. Goin, the other perennial heavy-hitting female star chef in town, has been busy in the shadows prepping the opening of Tavern in Brentwood. On the fifth day of opening, this multi-disciplined restaurant was already firing on all cylinders. The full year of restaurant opening stalking was not in vain. Restaurant operators please take note, this is how a successful chef + partner rock the perfect opening. Service was spot on, menus polished, pret a manger stocked to the tilt, bar simply decorated, not a paint run off anywhere in the corners and the biggest triumph of all? Everything tasted good. Is this even possible? Tavern’s grand opening week ran contrary to everything the scenesters have learned: don’t go to a new restaurant too early, be patient, they deserve your money, wait for the consensus to come, wait for that useless (except for mine) First to Review on Yelp.
Tavern set a new bar, and with all that in mind, we wanted to destroy the dessert menu. Crux of this fresh dessert menu, not seen on Tavern’s website, is your fave dessert serving cup, the “coupe”.
First up, blood orange coupe. Zesty! Zangy! Make your tongue ziggy! It’s blood orange season and you know Tavern procures SaMo market produce. Not sure we dig the tall parfait coupe glassware but the blood orange granitas turned slurpee wakes you up. Completely refreshing if you chart a heavy course for dinner.
Second, the elderflower p.cotta. Scenester who love brunch love elderflower mimosas more than life itself. Here, the scent of elderflower permeates the panna cotta. But again, the coupe is still the wrong stemware.
Thirdly, warm and moist carb flavored sugar, ie, the apple huckleberry crisp/cobbler. Thank goodness it was served in a ramekin. We had a great cherry cobbler months back at Church & State, but this huckleberry crisp/cobbler jobber just whooped arse. It’s butter, and it’s sugar with a bit of farmers market fruits, plus ice cream. Think “This is why you’re fat”, but with guilt-free fruit bits, not served up in a coupe. Cinnamon ice cream was a bit unnecessarily flavorful, but brought a bit of deconstructionism into the dish as the crisp itself wasn’t overwrought with cinnamon.
Walnut galette. It’s a tart/galette, and it’s still a-ok good. This creation was topped mascarpone and sat on “saba” drizzles. First I’m thinking: geezus, mackerel flavored mascarpone. Wowsers! Someone take this glob and throw it onto a dessert at Bazaar, quick! But.. alas. I’m a n00b and got owned by the Tavern vocab (larder? seriously? you can’t call it pret a manger?). Saba, the first balsamic vinegar, was very light, and way too funky for me as far as a galette goes. But swirled with the mascarpone, it became a separate entity. Once again, a deconstructed dessert.
The last dessert: beignets. OK, I don’t get it. Downtown Disney has better beignets. It’s mostly a size thing. Bigger is better. There is just not enough fluffy greasy dough relative to the crust. On the other hand, the accompanying peanut ice cream is on point. Just as creamy as the ex-pastry chef Catherine Schimenti’s ice creams at Craft. I wish every restaurant could churn their own ice cream.
Previous to dessert, we had various bar bites. You can see the bar menu below.
Forget the rest of the list. Focus on this: Fried Oyster & bacon brochette with tabasco aioli. Let’s break this down a bit. There are 3 or so oysters, interlaced with slices of bacon, all skewered, dipped in batter, then fried. Deep fried battered bacon and oysters. Think about it. Say it twice. Eat it once. I’m not someone who goes ga ga for bacon, you won’t find me on this pork trendlet’s bandwagon. White people just discovered the next white meat; I was braising pork belly & pork hock before I knew how to drive. But this dish, wearing a cosmopolitan french word for kabob, isn’t just some Animal-istic take on punchy ingredients. This works because it’s not too greasy, not over cooked, and has a bit of spicy garlic mayo subbing tartar.
That was easily an ’09 fave, right up against the lamb sliders at Craftbar, right up against the fluffernutter at The Must.
By the way, don’t think a Goin/Styne restaurant can be affordable? Check the beer list: Green Flash Westcoast IPA on draft for $4.
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