Thursday, September 23, 2010

Test Kitchen w/ Amy Pressman

As the day drew closer, I checked my twitter account religiously. Who was the guest chef at Test Kitchen going to be? It had to be good for it to be kept a secret. But who could the candidate be? Manzke, Voltaggio, Sedler had all made their appearances. As it turned out, the guest chef of the night was Amy Pressman, with the support of Nancy Silverton (Mozza, La Brea Bakery). The duo are opening up Short Order, a gourmet burger joint at the Original Farmer's Market on Fairfax.

The menu of the night was themed "balls" and included 8 courses for $50. I'm the type of person that always orders meat at dinner, preferably at every course. In fact, when I order multiple small plates, the waiters usually suggest that I slip in a veggie dish or two. I never heed their advice. I'm just a meat kind of girl. But this menu isn't for everyone.

Cocktails were mixed by Julian Cox (Rivera) and Joel Black (Comme Ca, Cana).

Fall Rangoon (pimm's no 1, seasonal fruit, lime, lemon, mint, canella syrup) was very delicious.

Flight of the Concord (gin, concord grape, creme de violet, peach bitters)

Bartender's choice (I asked for vodka and fig)
I was trying to figure out what liqueur they used but no one could tell me. Our waitress dropped it off without explaining. I asked another one and she said she'd check. She never came back. I also asked our waitress about it but she never checked.

Amuse Bouche - Teardrop pretzel roll, mustard butter, assorted pickles
It's amazing how something as simple as bread could be the highlight of the night. It was fresh, soft, warm and very fragrant. The mustard in the butter was very mild, which is good for me cuz I hate mustard. I wish they sold this at the Farmer's Market because I'd buy a baggie of it.

Tofu - heirloom tomato, arugula, basil, soy, balsamic, olive oil
Very interesting dish, probably the most unique dish of the night. This was a nice play on the caprese salad. Soft tofu was used in lieu of mozzarella balls. However, unlike cheese, the tofu was bland. The thin sheet of bean curd added texture to the salad.

Tuna Tartare - aioli, haricot vert, shell bean, roasted pepper, bottarga
The fresh ahi was shaped in a ball and topped with saffron aioli, micro onions and served alongside a salad. The fish tasted fresh but it lacked seasoning. It definitely needed some sort of citrus and heat, and unfortunately there wasn't enough aioli to flavor the dish.

Paired birds (duck & turkey) - bird jus, truffled stuffing, poached duck egg
The meatball was nice and lean, but rather bland in itself and needed some punch. I really enjoyed the poached duck egg which had a strong gamy flavor. I loved when the runny egg and jus were absorbed into the stuffing.

Lamb - salsa verde, feta, eggplant, fregola, harissa
Love the colors of the dish and the texture of the fregola. The feta was held in the center of the meatball. The lamb flavor was good but the meatball itself was too dense. The consistency seemed better as a burger - great for Short Order but seemed too compact for a meatball.

Pork - rapini, crispy garlic, sage leaf
The pork meatball was perhaps the most tender of the lot but once again, I thought that it lacked seasoning. It had a nice crust on the outside and the sage leaf was lovely. I just wished they incorporated sage into the dish, like as a seasoning in the meatball or sauteed with the rapini, instead of just as a garnish. The dish also needed some citrus to cut through the bitterness of the rapini.

Grass fed Beef Ravioli-0 - summer "gravy" (Philly for red sauce), ricotta, basil butter
This was probably my favorite of the meatball series. I'm a sucker for pasta.

As if one ball wasn't sufficient, they gifted you with three within the ravioli. This was also the most flavorful meatball, perhaps due to the tomato sauce. I also liked the aromatic basil butter which graced the plate.

Peach Pie - Peach brown sugar caramel, buttermilk semifreddo
Apart from the bread, this was my favorite of the night.

The pastry was perfect. It was flaky but thick enough to hold in the peach. The peach itself wasn't overly sweet and concentrated - it tasted fresh and light. I really enjoyed the semifreddo. It looks like a solid ice cream ball, but when you cracked the fragile exterior, it was cold, soft and creamy inside. I like the contrast between the homey baked pie and the delicate semifreddo.

I thought it was a fun idea for the night ("balls") but I never thought I would say this.. I think that's way too much balls for me. I do love my meats it was one meat after another. I wished they mixed it up a bit. Instead of being so meat heavy, perhaps they could have throw in a mushroom or fish (like a brandade) ball. I liked the concept but I could see it better as a burger than meatball. The meatballs just seemed too compact and dense to me, and a lot of them lacked seasoning. But I do think that some of the dishes had creative accompaniments. I would be interested in trying a duck burger with stuffing and a duck poached egg. In a night that celebrated balls, I left wishing for more of that bread and dessert. Maybe I'm not such a meat person after all.

Hits: dessert, bread, ravioli
Misses: balls were under seasoned, service was off
Rating: **1/2

Test Kitchen w/ Amy Pressman
9575 West Pico Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90035


bagnatic said...

oh man i like meat too. test kitchen...i need to go!

Diana said...

Oh man, I would have not done well with all those meatballs! My body would have been screaming for some veg by course number 2! When is there going to be a quinoa night at Test Kitchen?

stuffycheaks said...

bagnatic - you HAVE to check out Test Kitchen before its over. I liked the check out the menu 1st before going, so I'll know if i'll like the night or not

Diana - hhaha yeah... it would have been a painful night for you :)