Monday, May 23, 2011

LQ @ SK: Laurent Quenioux's New Venture at Starry Kitchen (Los Angeles)

Chef Laurent Quenioux at Starry Kitchen

I'd like to take a quick break from my recent Taiwan Beef Noodle Tour posts for something interesting that's coming to Downtown Los Angeles. As some of you may know, Laurent Quenioux was the former executive chef and owner of the recently shuttered Bistro LQ. What you may also know is that he's recently taken the helm of Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena. However, what you may not know is that Chef Quenioux will be starting a pop-up venture of his own at the Downtown eatery, Starry Kitchen. The upcoming 5 course prix fixe dinner will be priced at $45/person (excluding tax and gratuity).

Laurent at work.
Laurent at Work (Picture courtesy of DJJewelz)

I've had the privilege of dining at Bistro LQ awhile back, and even though I've yet posted that dinner due to my laziness, I was very impressed by experience there. After receiving an invitation to try his yet to be opened pop-up venture, I quickly booked a seating.

Bread from Bread Lounge
Bread Basket from Bread Lounge

At the start of our meal, we were presented with a bread basket from Bread Lounge and olive oil. Even though I was saving room for the main courses, I managed to take down two pieces of bread.

Amuse: Escamoles
Amuse: Escamoles
Amuse: Escamoles (Ant Eggs)

Yes, you read it right, we were first served escamoles, or ant eggs in English. Before I get the "ewww" or "that's gross" comments, you really need to try it before judging the ingredient. Personally, I'm no fan of bugs, dead or alive. However, after trying fried grasshoppers in Tijuana and also here in Los Angeles, I've became more open to them. The flavors of the ant eggs were quite subtle, as it was actually accented by the lime and cilantro flavors used in the mini "taco." We were actually also given a shot of Sapporo beer to wash everything down. I really wanted seconds of these little buggers! (Yes, that was a bit lame, LOL)

Oxtail compote, pickled spring vegetables, Mustard Tapioca
Oxtail compote, pickled spring vegetables, Mustard Tapioca
1. Oxtail compote, Pickled spring vegetables, Mustard Tapioca
(Paired with 2007 Raventos i Blanc "de Nit" Cava, Spain)

The first course was oxtail, which is one of my favorite proteins, though it does seem I have a lot of favorites. Anyways, the oxtail was cooked perfectly. Tender, flavorful, it was quite delicious by itself. Though I'm not sure if the use of the pickled vegetables were necessary for this particular dish. I was hoping for some sort of starch, like potatoes. I guess I'm just a meat and potato kinda guy.

Tai snapper, citruses, zucchini, tomatoes, Kohlrabi, smoked black sea salts
2. Tai snapper, Citruses, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Kohlrabi, Smoked black sea salts
(Paired with 2010 Francois Chidaine Touraine Rosé, France)

Truthfully, when I first saw the menu, I wasn't too interested in this course. While I like snapper, I didn't think any of the ingredients stood out, but boy, I was mistaken. First and foremost, the snapper itself was cooked pefectly. Tender, moist, and fork tender. I really liked the uses of the lime and tangerines in this dish, it provided the necessary acidity needed to go along with the fish. The smoked black salt added an interesting, and tasty component to this course. I really enjoyed this one.

Teriyaki rabbit albondigas, teriyaki foie gras, miso, green Garlic tempura
Teriyaki rabbit albondigas, teriyaki foie gras, miso, green Garlic tempura
Teriyaki rabbit albondigas, teriyaki foie gras, miso, green Garlic tempura
3. Teriyaki rabbit albondigas, Teriyaki foie gras, Miso, Green Garlic tempura
(Paired with 2010 LIOCO Indica Rosé, California)

This was my favorite course of the night. Rabbit, foie gras, and fried vegetable tempura? Yes, please! I really enjoyed the combination of the rabbit "meatball" and the well cooked piece of foie gras. The added touch of the fried vegetable tempura and the miso sauce elevated this dish to the top. "Winner winner rabbit dinner!"

Veal sweetbreads, Morels, Chanterelles, shishito peppers, yuzu kosho
Veal sweetbreads, Morels, Chanterelles, shishito peppers, yuzu kosho
4. Veal sweetbreads, Morels, Chanterelles, Shishito peppers, Yuzu kosho
(Paired with 2000 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Rosado, Spain)

It must have been my lucky night, as sweetbread was on the menu. No, this wasn't some sort of sweet fried dough. Sweetbread is usually the thymus of a calf. I liked the use of the morels and the chanterelles in this dish. The sweetbread was fried, much similar to a fried chicken, but better. I personally didn't think the use of the shishito peppers were necessary, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Chocolate chipotle mousse, lime serrano gel, Cinnamon soil
Chocolate chipotle mousse, lime serrano gel, Cinnamon soil
5. Chocolate chipotle mousse, Lime serrano gel, Cinnamon soil
(Paired with NV Terres Dorées FRV100, France)

Ah, my arch nemesis: the fried dough, in this case, a churro was used. However, I believe the churro was quite vital in this dish. The chocolate chipotle mousse was quite nice and definitely packed a punch. I needed the churro to balance the flavors out a bit. The addition of lime was quite pleasant. This dessert definitely had a Mexican influence. I quite enjoyed this dessert.

Nguyen of Starry Kitchen
Nguyen, Owner of Starry Kitchen

In my opinion, this dinner was quite a success. Although I had an idea what to expect going into this meal, Chef Quenioux exceeded my expectations. I liked the balance of flavors in his dishes, and I enjoyed his use of various Asian and Mexican flavors to enhance his French techniques.

A few housekeeping items: While the pop-up doesn't officially start until Sunday June 5th, I was excited to try this dinner before it officially commence (though just a note, this was not a hosted meal). The planned time for this run will be for the next 3 to 6 months, from Sunday to Tuesday nights, every other week.

Although all the wine from this particular dinner was paired by Domaine LA, Starry Kitchen does not have an alcohol license, thus, there will not be any optional wine pairing offered during the course of this run. If you would like to add any type of alcoholic beverage to your meal, you'll have to do it a la Wolvesmouth or Ludobites. If you need more hints than that, please feel free to email me or contact me on Twitter. If you need more information about this upcoming pop-up, I'd recommend for you to follow Chef Quenious on twitter.

My final word of advice, since this is a limited run, seating may be limited, thus, I'd suggest for you to book your reservation ASAP!

LQ @ Starry Kitchen
350 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071


LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

i hope i get to check this out! meal looks good, but I'm skeptical of the ant eggs even if you say you liked them i still am filled with that eww factor :)

bagnatic said...

better ant eggs in a taco rather than ants crawling up my legs! this looks really good danny!

Anna A. said...

glad the rabbit was #winning for you. i would have loved to try that soil dessert :-) said...

You sure know how to eat well, huh? Love your photos and I'm curious about the ant eggs!

Gastronomer said...

Glad to see you're eating well while I'm away, Panda! I hope to try ant eggs one of these days ;-)

kish said...


speechless. and yet kinda hungry. haha

Pinoy Panda said...

I loved the escamoles, foie and sweetbreads. Can't wait to check out his other dishes that's coming up. Such a fantastic deal.

Bonnibella said...

Looks like a fun meal, the ant eggs looks interesting but if it's in a taco it should be good!

Kung Food Panda said...

Nastassia: Maybe I should have said caviar tacos? :)

Amy: Haha, I agree with that one, esp those fire red ants.

Anna: I love a nice juicy rabbit. Mmmmm...

Yuri: Thanks! Those ant eggs are quite flavorless, it's more about the name and the texture.

Kung Food Panda said...

Cathy: I try my best :)

Kish: Yes, and you should try it.

Remil: Yup, I think a return trip to LQ @ SK will be in order later on this summer.

Bonni: The flavors of that taco made it a great little starter. The ant eggs was more a "cool" factor :)

Pandalicious said...

$45 is not bad! and yum, oxtail!

Kung Food Panda said...

Amy: It's a great deal! I hope you'll be able to check it out.