Wednesday, October 7, 2009

dineLA: RH at Andaz West Hollywood

Foodies all around Los Angeles are clearing their calendars for dineLA Restaurant Week that runs from Oct 4-9 and Oct 11-16. There are numerous restaurants (over 200) on the bill and three tiers of prix fixe menu pricing. Basically, you get a three course dinner for either $26, $34 or $44, depending on the restaurant.

RH Restaurant is at the newly remodeled Andaz West Hollywood, or better known as "Riot House", where rock stars used to hang out and wreaked havoc in the 70's. It was also where band-aide Penny Lane and Stillwater camped out in the movie, Almost Famous. I also have my own fond memories of the place. The restaurant/bar at one time used to be Chi, partly owned by Justin Timberlake. It looks different now. Gone are the waterfalls, tropical trees and fire pit. Instead, RH is trendy, with modern, metallic decor. It's a bit of an older crowd on a Tuesday night, and it's also relatively empty. The decor is unique. You can look into the kitchen's pantry through its glass doors to survey their fresh produce, as well as see bottles of wine lining the wall in the Wine Gallery. I also love the open kitchen concept and their marble communal tables.

I already did my research on RH. Food critic S Irene Virbila was highly impressed and gave the joint 3 stars. She raved about their soup, terrine, poached egg, duck, fries and walnut cake. Hmmm.. the soup, terrine and walnut cake were on the dineLA menu. Good, at least I only have to make a difficult entree decision. The chef is Sebastien Archambault, who has trained under Alain Ducasse, and earned a Michelin Star for Le Pirate in Corsica. His menu focuses on market to table, fresh ingredients, not at exorbitant prices. Most of the entrees are in the 20s, which is terribly affordable for a hotel restaurant, unlike my $32 curry from Trader Vic's.

I started with a glass of Roederer Rosata while waiting at the bar.

Crudite with low fat yogurt, chive, lemon and salt. The crudite was a nice variety of purple cauliflower, carrots, radishes and cherry tomatoes. I liked that they served this healthy plate of veggies to start.

Bread and butter came shortly. Wow, the bread was delicious. It was fresh sourdough, warm and smelt so good.

For appetizer, choice of:
Chicken veloute soup with egg white
Huntington pork and petaluma duck terrine
Gratinated p.e.i mussels in sauvignon blanc cream sauce with parsley and garlic.

Although the terrine sounded good, I decided to upgrade my appetizer for the perigourdine poached egg for an extra $4.

It was poached eggs with mushrooms, foie gras and summer truffles, served in a cast iron ramekin. Love the receptacle; it's so rustic. And this was worth the extra $4. The foie was layered on top of the egg, and the truffles covered the foie. It was definitely a very rich dish. The mushrooms were earthy, and the creamy foie gras melted with the poached egg. Even the bread that was served alongside was tasty and went really well with the eggs and foie. It tasted a bit like brioche but was denser. The only issue was that there was too much butter slathered on the bread; I had to scoop the butter off the bread.

Last couple bites of the foie egg truffle concoction. Decadence.

Chicken veloute soup. They served the rest of the soup in a canteen to keep it warm. The soup was a little thin, flat and not that flavourful. I think a little cream would have richen it up a little.

For entree, choice of:
Crayfish risotto with peas, romaine leaves, tomato and crayfish sauce
Braised petaluma chicken breast with white corn, red pepper, baby spinach and pineau wine sauce
Slow braised beef cheek with button mushrooms and rainbow carrots

The beef cheek was so tender and delicious. You could see the lovely marbling and the gelatinous fat in the beef cheek. It literally melted in my mouth. The sauce wasn't thick like gravy so it did not overwhelm the lovely cut of meat. The sauce was viscous and not too salty, which really showcased the beef. I also loved the root vegetables and the roasted garlic, but the button mushrooms looked like the ones from a can.

The chicken, surprisingly was amazing. The colors on the plate were vibrant. I've had tender chicken breast before, but this tasted so much better. And the skin was perfectly crisp. The white corn was fresh, soft but not mushy, sweet and went well with the chicken. This is the type of dish you could see yourself eating at a farm town in Provence.

For dessert:
Rum baba with fruit minestrone and vanilla whipped cream
Walnut cake with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream
Green apple with berries and yogurt.

Walnut cake. It was a bit dry. I didn't have the urge to devour this, unlike most other dessert.

Rum baba. The diced fruit was refreshing in the sweet broth; I believe the fruit was mango, pineapple, and papaya and cantaloupe. I even liked the whipped cream on top. However the rum cake was too overwhelming in alcohol content. It just tasted like a shot; I couldn't even finish a bite because it was too strong.

dineLA Restaurant Week is such a great deal. The bill came up to $49 per person, excluding tip, but including a glass of wine which was about $10 each. It's a great way to check out new restaurants without pinching the pocket. I liked that RH didn't include crappy selections on their dineLA menu, which some other restaurants have done. The food was delicious, with the entrees and poached egg being my favorites. Also, you could tell that the ingredients were of good quality because everything seemed fresh and tasted good. The desserts were not memorable though. OK, I take that back, I'll definitely remember that I didn't like the rum.

The service was great. Our waitress came by to check on us on several occasions. And when we were leaving, Chef Sebastien ran out of his kitchen over to us, and asked how our meal was. He even opened the door for us. How adorable. I will definitely be back, especially for the duck confit and the sweetbreads in puff pastry.

Hits: poached egg, chicken, beef cheeks, bread, great deal!
Misses: desserts
Rate: ***

RH Restaurant and Bar
8401 Sunset Blvd.,
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 785-6090