Earlier this week, my husband says why don't you make reservations at some upscale restaurant for Friday night. To avoid the crowds of a Sunday Mothers' Day meal, we find this to be more to our taste. With the release of Ludo Lefebvre of Bastide new cookbook, "Crave: The Feast of the 5ive Senses" (Regan Books, $50), less than positive reviews by food critics such as S. Irene Virbila (Nov. 3, 2004) L.A. Times Restaurant Critic, though still described by others as one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, I had to try it. Keep in mind, it is also described as one of the most expensive restaurants in Los Angeles ($$$$$).
What the heck, let's splurge. At least I can say I tried it.
This is totally French. We are greeted by a maitre d' (de color I hesitate to mention) who offers us either a patio table or one off the first dining room. I'm kinda sensitive to cool L.A. nights regardless of how many patio heaters there are. Others describe the best seating to be the patio. We opt for the dining room. We sat down at 7:00 PM. Immediately we are participants in a most inviting, attentive evening. My husband describes that this is going to be a meal and a show (the orchestrated movements of the staff to assure we enjoyed this meal).
We already knew we would order the "Chefs Choice" at $145 per person. After determining we had no food allergies, the waiter accepts our order. Did I mention the cheapest wine on the menu was $35 with most offered at $135 and up, up, up? We ordered wine and a sparkling water. Never during this entire meal did our waiter or sommelier allow our glasses to become half-empty. The wine, I forget its name but it was the $35 bottle was actually excellent.
We were presented with course after course. You can view in the photo album almost all the dishes we experienced (Food Got To Love It). I missed taking a picture of a one course described as the "deconstruction of Bloody Mary". This was the second course following the "Amuse Bouche". This was presented on a silver tablespoon with a vodka gelee, celery sorbet and tomato sorbet, all to be eaten together in one full gulp. Excellent. I knew from here we were in for some creative taste treats. (The other course I missed photographing was the petit four. I did picture the empty plate).
I could not do justice to try to describe the tastes we experienced with each bite. I can say that there were very few sensations that I did not enjoy. I sometimes ignore the descriptions by food critics for as some say, it's just a matter of taste (what I like you may not like and vice versa). I did feel the food.
Each course came with a new set of silverware imprinted with the trademark "B" for Bastide. A wait staff delivered our course. A waiter then came to the table to describe the meal and offer the chefs suggested way to eat it. Upon completion of the course, the wait staff immediately removed the dirty serviceware and plates. We had 13 courses including a pre-dessert, dessert and post dessert. Service was exceptional.
Remember, we were first seated at 7:00PM. We left at 10:00PM. A three hour meal which was most exciting to our senses and conversation. I remarked to my husband that this is the first time ever I can remember that he was as excited about a meal as I was in that we discussed it, analyzed it, complemented the chef and just felt the meal. We talked through the meal about the taste sensations, the presentation, and the environment. We enjoyed. We talked about the meal driving home.
Ludo Lefebvre did enter our dining room (twice) to converse with another patron who engaged him in French conversation. I was disappointed that he did not approach our table and at least say hello, welcome to my restaurant. It is remarkable that the image I had from the picture of Ludo walking out of the ocean, bare topped carrying two large fish was not the Ludo in chefs whites at Bastide. Photograhers can paint any picture they want you to see.
Bastide Surprise Menu May 6, 2005
Deconstruction of Bloody Mary
Chorizo Cream, Balsamic, Macadamia, Ice Onions, Ice Cornichon
Yellowtail, Sea Urchin, Lemon Confit, Poached Rhubarb, Fava Beans
Foie Gras "Poele", Cherries, Amaretto, Bitter Almond Ice Cream, Black Tea
Sea Scallop, Dried Olive Coulis, White Asparagus, White Chocolate Emulsion
Cap'N Crunch Sole (John Dory), Liquid Smoked Mashed Potato, Pickled Banana, Red Bell Pepper Oil
Seared Duck Breast with Vadouvan, Wasabi Consomme, Udon with Pink Grapefruit, toast Skin oil, Soy Sauce Tube
Les Fromages Norbert
Tequila "Frappe" Spoon
Lychee Rose Water Gelee, Candied Ginger Ice Cream
Chocolate Brownie with Blue Cheese, Green Cardamon, Cherries