Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ray's and Stark at LACMA Museum

I'm not a big museum fan but this week, I ventured into the unknown when I dined at Ray's and Stark, the new restaurant and bar located at LACMA. I'm a big fan of Chef Kris Morningstar after dining at District a couple times, so I was excited to check out his new creations.

The menu at Ray's Restaurant (named after producer Ray Stark) is Mediterranean-focused and created with fresh and local ingredients. As such, the menu changes often, so the beef tongue and veal kidneys listed online were no longer on the menu. Instead, the dishes now seem a bit safer. No offal that night. I later came to realize that Stark Bar has a different menu, something that is more in line with my taste (head cheese fritters, beef tendon). I wish they had offered such dishes in the dining room.

The decor is simple and modern. The tables have little utensil drawers that stored your napkins and cutlery.

The Elizabeth Taylor cocktail (White rum, Orange flower water, lime) was very strong but sweet.

The house made bread smelt great and was soft and warm in the center.

Our waiter presented us with an amuse bouche of cauliflower puree with smoked trout roe. Nice balance of oceanic roe flavor with mild cauliflower.

The casoncelli was stuffed with a puree of sweet green peas. The colors were vibrant and all the ingredients were fresh. The lobster chunks were cooked perfectly and the sauce was light and subtle. This was a nice spring dish.

The Truffled rice agnolotti in porcini sauce was my favorite dish of the night. The pasta was very fresh and the sauce was rich and buttery. The dish was littered with arugula, chopped crunchy hazelnuts and strands of black trumpets. All the flavors worked well together and it was a very complete dish. Similar to the pea pasta dish, we ordered the half portion/appetizer of this pasta, and I thought it was a reasonable size for sharing between two people.

The Hanger steak was sous vide, and quite a substantial portion. It was tender but felt denser and heavier than a regular hangar steak. IMO, I'm not sure if the sous vide preparation improved the steak. I thought the steak was also over salted. My favorite part was the smoked marrow compound which added a strong fatty flavor. The marble potatoes and cippolini onions were nicely cooked through but still held its shape.

The service was attentive and friendly. I appreciated that they comped us an appetizer to compensate us for the long wait for our steak - we didn't even inquire about the steak or complain about the wait time. The pastas were delicious, especially the rich funghi agnolotti. But I thought the steak, although tasty, wasn't anything memorable. Overall, I thought that the food was good, but not unique enough to draw me back. I guess I was expecting dishes such as spam sliders, duck fat Yorkshire pudding and bone marrow pierogies that Morningstar served up at District. The Stark Bar menu in fact, looks much more exciting and appealing to me. That's where I'll head to the next time I'm back.

Hits: pastas, bread
Misses: steak
Rating: **1/2

Ray's and Stark
5905 Wilshire Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 857-6180


Diana said...

I don't love sous vide steaks either -- part of what appeals to me about steak is that nice crust. Without the char, what's the point of calling it steak?

e*star said...

Wow, how interesting that Stark Bar has such a different (and more appetizing) menu. Thanks for writing Ray's up!