Bastide Water Fountain Bastide Tree & Napkin Bastide bread service

To the left there is a small fountain, with soft orange lights eminating from the pool bottom. To the front are skinny trees, full of green leaves despite the Christmas season. To the right, within reach, there lays a basket of warm bread baked on premise cotaining a mix of foccacia, whole wheat and a dinner baguette, with a small mound of softened butter decorated with a twig.

This is the beginnings of a beautiful lunch.

The menu during Bastide’s soft opening is quite simple. A few selected appetizers, a few salads, a roasted chicken along some seemingly unassuming mains for lunch. No burger to be found

Bastide hama oyster

Then the amuse hits. Hama oysters with Heinz ketchup on a beautiful bed of sea salt laced with peppercorn. Tasty, simple, perhaps even daring? Heinz ketchup? Really chef? But it works, even without faddish yuzu, nor proverbial horseradish sauce. Corn syrupy ketchup balances the nature’s brininess. Before moving on to the first plate, sommelier asked if he can offer a small selection of wines, despite there being no official wine list.

Yes, please. After all, when there’s an amuse bouche for a Saturday lunch, wine pairing seems completely natural.

Bastide Fig Tart

First up, fig tart. Simple, perfectly portioned for one. Continuing the excellent work with flour by the kitchen, the crust breaks away easily enough, but offers good crunch and a solid platform to carry the figs and greens. There will be no flying escargot ala Pretty Woman upon separation from the tart body. The pastry is buttery, but not overtly so, salted, but not overtly so. Entire composition was well balanced, with figs not roasted to sugary high, but merely soft in texture to blend into the creamy cabrales & mascarpone cheese mix. Surrounding this rotund appetizer were elaborate drizzles of truffle oil syrup. Drop your protestation against truffle oil. The sugary aromatics complimented the unforced figs to the N-th. Wine matched to figs, a light gewurz.

By this time, food bliss began to inundate my veins.

Bastide Red Wine Risotto with wild mushrooms

Next, a mid meal amuse bouche. To be true, this was not simply a one bite mouth amuser. This was an forced exercise of the palate – a red wine risotto with mixed mushroms of chanterelle & porcini. (Note: upon re examining of the menu, the risotto does as a full entree). Two things immediately came to attention: long wholesome grains of rice & the earthy wine reduction in pink. A complex risotto easily shows off a wine and leads to a complimentary pairing. Sommelier definitely wanted to pair a red, but brought the white (soave) instead, per earlier request. The easy pour of dry & floral Inama soave served as a good complement to the salted risotto and musky mushrooms. In the end, I was glad the red wine risotto was paired with the white.

Bastide Bloomin' Onio

Next, a small piece of protein looking much like a bloomin’ onion appeared on top of a basil broth. Yes, Outback Steakhouse’s bloomin’ onion. No, thank goodness there were no actual fried onions present. Instead, the large scallop was intricately crisscrossed on top, and seasoned, then somehow browned to perfect tenderness. Sitting beneath said whimsical mollusk was a small pile of crab meat, equally succulent, perhaps even more so flavorful when saturated by the pleasant green sauce. Sommelier Dario Dell’Anno insisted such strong flavors had to be paired with a red. Despite tannins being huge enemies of seafood, the Palmina barbera, not quite full bodied, did not battle the scallops for attention. Small sips of the red right after the powerful scallop & crab combination did not bring forth any tart nor metallic profiles. And really, even without the wine, who can say no to scallop on crab love? This marriage of two favored seafoods is just about perfect

Following the meal, Dario inquired if dessert shall be taken that late afternoon. Despite protestation, a solemn, silver Christofle Hotel spoon arrived, prominently sporting the “B” stamping ubiquitous to all silverware on premise. Shouldn’t have voiced my status as a sucker for refined dessert, but damned glad I did when the tarte tartin appeared. The apples, shaped like mandarin orange slices, conjoined on top of the flakey tarte, forming a soccer ball shaped kaleidoscopic tiling. In this case, the pastry vessel was puffy, flaky, and buttery. Baked apples, now in season, were cut sexy Nigella plump, and seem to burst upon fork penetration. It begged to be eaten manually, and was coupled with vanilla ice cream, also produced on premise.

Bastide Tarte Tatin


Chef Mahon, sporting his own blog, is determined, along with sommelier/manager Dario Dell’Anno, to make Bastide “accessible” yet still refined. Gone are the days of 4 hour complex degustations under chef Manzke. Gone are frou frou molecular twists under chef Lefebvre. Here, at the new Assouline+Bastide, one can chose to come for a lunch reading, and stay for a 30 minute bite, fuss free. The sommelier’s more Mozza than Bouchon, the chef’s more LA than Beverly Hills. Asked if there are big shoes to fill, Mahon merely replied: “different”, and smiled. Consider this the new Bastide of the New Economy where ground breaking flavor combination is no longer the raison d’etre of the meal, but exquisite, if not quite familiar, flavors are found.

This particular December Saturday, sitting at one end of the tranquile garden over looking the entire “room”, talking restaurants with both Dario and Joseph, learning that the sommelier is a trained chef who grew up in Belgian, listening to the chef speak of tremendous desserts at Hatfield, and why he departed from the “Golden Triangle” of Beverly Hills, all the while knocking back a few gentle ounces of (inexpensive and again, accessible) wine, proved itself to be single most memorable lunch in Los Angeles of 2009.

Bastide Front Bastide Sign

Soft reopening day: December 15th, 2009.

NB: During this period of soft opening, only breakfast and lunch will be served. While they hope to open for dinner in early February, no evening service will begin until the service staff is up to speed of the kitchen.

Attached is the full lunch menu

Bastide
8475 Melrose Place
Los Angeles, CA 90069-5311
(323) 651-5950

Bastide on Urbanspoon

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  • Ahh, so this was the best lunch of 2009?
    I was always sad I never made it to the ole Bastide, but this looks amazing. I have to go soon. Thanks for the writeup! How inexpensive was it?
    .-= gourmetpigs´s last blog ..Hot and Soupy #3: Kaori Sushi, $50 Omakase, and Lobster Soup =-.

  • Very nice. I know where I’m going for lunch before the end of 2009.
    .-= djjewelz´s last blog ..Images of Downtown LA =-.

  • This looks incredible. I want.
    .-= WeezerMonkey´s last blog ..Lotsa Ludo Love =-.

  • That fig tart looks and sounds delish! I can’t wait for them to serve dinner.
    .-= stuffycheaks´s last blog ..Breadbar Hatchi with Marcel Vigneron: not a Restaurant Wars winner =-.

  • TonyC

    gourmetpigs, menu now posted…

  • p

    u are awesome for posting menu. does it get packed – do i need reservations ? its like 30 seconds from my door.

  • What a beautiful lunch! But I admit, I did have to get parental approval before reading this XXX entry. Behave!
    .-= Anna A´s last blog ..Me vs. Wild Boar, I Win!: Thai Patio, Hollywood, CA =-.

  • I haven’t gone through your blog in awhile Tony, but your prose appears much more florid than what I remember. Is it particular to this entry, or are you moving towards that style?

  • Gill

    “food bliss began to inundate my veins.”

    Seriously? You are kidding, right?

  • TonyC

    O c’mon! A few gaggy lines got people worked up? It was beyond just a really nice meal, m’kay? Didn’t know enough praising 4 letter words to construct this piece, and I couldn’t exactly throw “yummy-o”, “nom nom nom”, “foodgasm” all over the place… Btw, this was NOT a PR shill.

  • Ben Lukather

    So gay, Tony. So gay.

  • Liz

    What, nothing to rant about? Are you going soft? This sounds idyllic enough to force me west during vacation.

  • wah.. i’m going here for lunch for a munch yum.
    .-= sook´s last blog ..Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas! =-.

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  • Anonymous

    You know nothing about wine, whay not just say so.

    “skinny trees, full of green leaves despite the Christmas season”
    Get to the point, if there’s nothing remarkable to observe, move along.

    “long wholesome grains of rice” In the risotta?(this is the way you spelled it, so..) What was it? Basmati? RISOTTO is made with arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano. They are short grains.

    “foccasia” What is this? Never had it. Oh, you mean foccacia?

    What is “escargo”? Right, escargot, genius.

    Yes ketchup, a component of cocktail sauce.Is this another revelation?

    Why diss past chefs at Bastide? If you had a clue about this place, or had ever dined in its previous incarnations you’d understand that the chefs at Bastide cook what Joe Pytka wants them to cook. This isn’t Joseph Mahon’s(btw, his name isn’t Jason) restaurant, it’s Joe’s. Nor was it Ludo’s or Walter’s.Not willing to take on Joe and spew you’re effeminate jeers his way?

    You’re pretty sure of yourself for a guy that appears to know nothing about this cuisine. And, wine tasting notes? Ask the sommelier to write them down next time. Go back to your “oh, snaps’ and “wtf’s”, and enough with the strained sentences, misuses of a thesauraus, and try to discriminate about what experiences you observe. They’re not all interesting, nor relevant.

    But, your pictures are very useful, this is a nice picture blog.

    Thankfully, there is a Jonathan Gold review up on Bastide.

  • TonyC

    Thanks you very much for pointing out I can’t type nor spell to save my life and Mr J Gold has a Pulitzer. I also spelled “containing” incorrectly, but did not use any “wtf”s or “oh snap”s nor cared to pretend there were any wine tasting notes. Obviously Mr. Pytka owns the restaurant, just like no kidding risott”a” is short grained rice. At least the pictures looked half nice?

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