This website, full of restaurant “reviews”, isn’t powered by groupies, nor television’s persuasions, ie, no Top Chef recap, no Hell’s Kitchen, no Iron Chef coverage. Not into chasing celebrichefs, not much into book signings.
However, the occasional TED talk can really convince the hell out of me (into a 7 part long post no less):
Early last year, we started obsessing with “Desserts by Ms. Schimenti” like we fussed over Mindy Segal’s hot chocolates and ice cream years ago in Chicago. The eternal tablemate couldn’t stop gushing about everything from Pastry Chef Schimenti’s oven at Craft. Early this spring, Craft came out with a Craftbar menu that digressed from the chained Crafty menu and people started to take a second look at Chef Accarrino (Schimenti’s faux-hawked beau). Thank goodness, because the desserts were desperately needing more affordable companions for mains.
Post Accarrino + Schimenti’s departure from Century City, we were a bit lost. LA’s pastry chefs are so absolutely hit and miss. Yes, everyone loves Church & State, but man, even Tavern & Mozza have turned out awful desserts. Late September, while lamenting Pastry Chef Schimenti’s decision to leave Craft after her man bounced, this Tweet was directed to me by BBPR:
@sinosoul No biggie– Go visit them up at SPQR. They’re actually taking reservations now!
Word. And we were off.
Unfortunately, F+W beckoned as a later dinner plan, so SPRQ was reserved for brunch. Unlike Bar Tartine and Canele, SPRQ didn’t smell like a buttered grease trap. The narrow space was refreshing, with 2 large sky lights, allowing one to observe the cooking at full tilt. That was a pleasure in of itself.
Apparently the stuffed quail (or a version there of) at brunch was used to assist Chef Accarrino in nabbin’ the vacant SPRQ position. Lightly seared, the small bird was finished perfectly tender, still full of jus. Farro was not over cooked and the cucumber salad wasn’t overpowering. There was no herbal trickery, but mere light salt accompanied by plenty of greens. At $17, there is no better quail to be found in Cali.
Even tho t’was barely noon, a dessert wanted me. Having never been a fan of rice pudding, sformatino beckoned gently with promises of soft fluffy center with no after maths of a chocolate overdose. It was perfect for this non-chocolate lover. And when it arrived, it pleased the senses: chilled mousse center, with a intriguing combinant texture of gelato, mousse, cold ganache, with a near flourless chocolate cake appearance. A bit spiced by “pepperocini” crisp, fun with coco nibs finished off the slightly bitter sformatino perfectly. Surely this isn’t a proper version of a tiny sformato (itself a flexible faux souffle), but no one cares. It is, only as a girl can say, “yum”.
Post Script: the LA Weekly’s Squid Ink blog published a piece covering the exact same story on the 20th. Was not aware of the article until October 22nd, when Chef A retweeted the piece. There is no plagiarism on my side, tho there is a correction. Picture above? Not sure it’s Chef Schimenti along side Chef Accarrino.
Their old Craft PR picture is below:
And the fun cornmeal ricotta pancake is at the bottom: