10 Best Foie Gras Dishes in Los Angeles
On July 1, the boom finally drops: The country's first statewide ban on foie gras goes into effect in California, making it illegal to serve or sell. For more on this, check out our critic Besha Rodell's consideration of the Last Days of Foie Gras.
Flickr/djjewelz foie gras loco moco
In honor of the work by chefs and kitchen staff done over the past months to create some of the most innovative and sumptuous foie dishes in existence, as well as to provide you with a chance to sample the goods in the scant two weeks before they're snatched off menus, we've highlighted some of our favorite foie gras dishes in Los Angeles. Turn the page.
10. The Royce's Foie gras with rhubarb and leek ash:
via Epicuryan Foie gras with rhubarb
Pasadena's Royce is an idyllic place -- chef David Feau hails from Le Mans, France, but achieves a hyper-seasonal zen in his food reminiscent of the best kaiseki dinners. The past few months have been the season of foie gras, in many ways, and Feau has been taking note. One of Royce's more spectacular dishes recently has been an arduously constructed duo of foie gras made from one cooking preparation ensconced within another -- a sort of foie gras Inception. Imagine a perfectly vertical round of foie gras, standing like a slice of duck liver sushi roll, paired with a bitter dusting of charred leek "ash" and a wide stripe of sweet red rhubarb geleé trailing backward across the plate. The inner section of the roll is a delicate torchon, a supple rich paste, while the outer wrapping is a centimeter or so of seared foie gras, the texture firmed ever so slightly and flavor heightened by the subtle application of a hot pan. (GS) 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave.; Pasadena; 626-585-6218.
Flickr/The Minty Satay at the Spice Table
9. Spice Table's Foie Gras Satay:
If there is one object that defines Bryant Ng's rustic brick-lined restaurant, it's likely the hefty wood-fired grill set in the heart of Spice Table's kitchen. Skewers of pork, chicken or fatty strips of lamb belly sizzle over the coals, crackling and glistening, as their intoxicating scent wafts across a handful of dining room tables. At some point, Ng tosses a skewer of foie gras on the grill -- the meat caramelized and charred on its edges, adopting the heady smell of burnt almond wood. Half the kitchens in France would fire on the spot any chef who dared cook a piece of foie gras over open flame, but of course, this is Little Tokyo. Your foie skewer comes with a bit of pineapple pickle, sweet and vinegary enough to cut through the richness while adding a tropical twang. Toast points are replaced by slices of baguette spread with minced ginger and aromatic spices. Foie gras masquerading as Singaporean street food? Why not? Time is fleeting. (GS) 114 S. Central Ave., dwntwn.; (213) 620-1840.
Flickr/My Last Bite Foie gras cotton candy
8. The Bazaar's foie gras cotton candy:
El Bulli alum José Andrés' flagship restaurant is probably better known as a playground for molecular cooking than as its self-serious temple. The kitchen has a soft spot for rejiggering familiar foods with Wonka-like flair: miniature cheesesteaks piped into a puffed cracker, a liquid nitrogen mojito ice cream cone stuffed with a dainty scoop of caviar. Foie gras gets the same bizarrist treatment -- a velvety cube of torchon is impaled on a long stick and rolled in crushed corn nuts, near identical to the ones you used to snack on at recess, then whisked through a cotton candy machine that adds a pillowy layer of vanilla-scented filaments. The saccharine rush of sugar rounds out the richness while a thousand microtextures play hopscotch on your tongue. It would probably look more fitting at, say, a carnival booth or Little League concession stand, but it's hard to suppress your inner child when a tuft of cotton candy is placed in front of you. (GS) 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 246-5555.
7. Hatfield's foie gras, apple-rosemary butter, caramelized cipollini, molasses toast:
via Taste With the Eyes Foie with apple-rosemary butter
Do Angelenos even know what autumn tastes like? Despite years of September's waning heatwaves yielding directly to the whipping winds of October, Karen and Quinn Hatfield have distilled a pretty convincing approximation. It begins with a lobe of foie gras delicately seared and lacquered, placed on a bed of cipollini onions caramelized until they collapse into dark brown sweetness. There are a few spoonfuls of apple-rosemary "butter," essentially a condensed cider, infused with a certain piney aroma. There is a wedge of pain d'épices, a kind of French gingerbread made with blackstrap molasses, and a delicate shaving of tart apple. It probably doesn't hurt that the foie gras in question comes from a particular poultry farm in upstate New York not far from where urbanites have been flocking for decades just to see a few leaves turn colors. (GS) 6703 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 935-2977.
6. Mezze's foie terrine with pistachio, grapefruit and saffron:
Anne Fishbein Foie terrine at Mezze
As is the case with much on chef Micah Wexler's menu, the foie gras terrine is a mashup of cultures and craft. The foie itself is pure French technique, a gorgeously smooth, decadent disk of rich, buttery foie. From there the flavors head east -- to the Middle East to be exact. Dried mint, saffron, coriander, sesame seed, pistachio and grapefruit make subtle plays for your attention in squiggles of sauce and dollops of gel and a smattering of crumbles on the plate. Each flavor has its moment to shine, then yields once again to the centerpiece -- that silky foie. Served with warm and impossibly fluffy pita bread, the dish is a light but decadent meal on its own. (BR) 401 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 657-4103.
Turn the page for #5, etc.
5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA