i've been a fan of the younger voltaggio's style since he took home the top prize over brother bryan on top chef, but never had the chance to visit the langham huntington hotel in pasadena the year he was there. after departing in june 2010, voltaggio scoured the town for an ideal location before settling on melrose in west hollywood, where he opened its doors just last month.
upon arrival, we were told by the maitre d' upon check-in that they were running a tad behind schedule, so our 9:15pm reservation actually became 9:30pm. but not to worry, they planted us directly in front of the open kitchen, where i got to get a bird's eye of voltaggio at work on the pass.
our server mentioned that it's typical to order 3-4 dishes per person (think beautifully composed as opposed to large portions), so we loaded up with seven total, including dessert. not wanting to distract from the dining experience, i opted not to take snaps of each course. our selections played out like so:
* spaghetti - giant squid, squash, hazelnut-ink pesto, piment d'espelette (highlighted by the wide swaths of ribbon-like squid resembling fettucine)
* charred avocado - hen of the woods, fish sauce vinaigrette, mushroom chicharron (the potent vinaigrette in the form of foam injecting a burst of flavor combined with the neutral avocado)
* bay scallops - lamb neck, chickpea poutine (resembling baby carrots!), yogurt curds (my favorite dish of the night)
* butternut squash risotto - langoustine, brussels sprouts, toasted rice (generous chunks of the shellfish)
* sea bass - cream of dehydrated potato, black olive oil, lemon, caper (the least adventurous of the group, yet the crispy skin was a fantastic touch)
* veal cheek - red curry, nante carrots baked in salt, fried sticky rice (nudge-with-a-fork tender with the dollops of curry sauce providing vibrant color)
* apple - crème caramel, burnt wood sabayon, walnut (absolutely unforgettable - they smoke wood chips out back, pour cream, then blast it with liquid nitrogen to create the sabayon)
|underside of serving plate|
throughout each of the dishes, voltaggio delicates straddles the line between refined and playful, leaving his interpretation of what he calls modern los angeles cuisine, a delicious one.
8360 melrose ave.
los angeles, CA 90069http://mvink.com/