Tar & Roses

Welcome to the first post of 2014.  Granted this meal happened many weeks back in 2013, but better late than never.
I’ll admit that ever since Eleven Madison Park, I’ve been unenthusiastic about trying new restaurants in LA, expecting disappointment at every corner.  How could anything ever top EMP?  But Tar & Roses showed me that food doesn’t have to be all fancy and fine dining to knock my socks off.  I went to Tar & Roses before and after EMP, and both times I was thoroughly impressed.  The first time I went with Miss Rheeeeee and Me So Hairy, but I forgot my camera.  What a crime to miss out documenting this excellent meal, so I came back with Smooth Obturator and Triple T.  I had to call 4 weeks in advance to get a Friday night reservation!
Bruschetta & Charcuterie
Heirloom Cherry Tomato burrata, basil
Woodroasted Eggplant feta, pickled tomato, mint
Duck Liver Pate frisee, pickled radish
If you know me, you know I love places that serve up an awesome charcuterie board.  I can’t actually say the charcuterie was that memorable since the meats selection wasn’t all that exciting, salumi, american prosciutto, and american ham.  We chose a few bruchettas which were delicious, my favorite was probably the tomato one.  Smooth Obturator also picked a cheese, which I think was probably a gorgonzola, stinky, salty, well balanced by the nuts, pickled veggies, and dried apricots.



Crispy Pig Ears tamarind dipping sauce, lime

This is probably one of the most amazing dishes I had in all of 2013.  I suppose if you don’t like pig ears, you might be put off by this dish.  But if you didn’t know what you were eating, it would just taste like the best thing since the invention of deep fried things. The expected crunch of cartilaginous pig ears were replaced by a meltingly soft chew with a crispy fried exterior.  It may not sound like the wonderful textural dream that it was.  You’ll just have to trust me on it.  The dipping sauce provided the much needed acidic notes to balance out the heaviness.  I dunno, words just seem to fail me on how to convey the awesomeness of this dish.

Vietnamese Style Beef Tartar quail egg, tendon chips, jalapeno

Another winner winner chicken dinner here!  The Vietnamese flavors were carried through by means of stinky fish sauce.  Who doesn’t like the pungent saltiness of fish sauce?  The whole time I thought I was eating fried taro chips or something, but it turned out to be tendon chips!  How the chef was able to get one of the toughest parts of an animal into a crispy light chip form just boggles my mind.

Ricotta Gnocchi asparagus, pea tendrils, lemon

I had this delicate dish the last time I was here, and the pillowy softness of the gnocchi wowed me yet again.  The light creaminess of the sauce was deftly balanced by the citrus notes.  The veggies just added some natural sweetness.  Love!

Whole Fried Snapper For Two cold soba noodles, dipping sauce

My curiosity was definitely piqued by this monstrosity last time, but my prior dining companions are not the daring overeaters as Triple T and mainly Smooth Obturator prove to be, time and time again.  The fish was very reminiscent of a fried fish you would be served at a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant, with the pungent salty, sweet, sour, garlicky sauce hitting the whole dish out of the ballpark.  The fish was meaty, supple, and sweet.  My only remark would be that the soba noodles were too salty and didn’t really to seem to complement the dish as well as it should, sort of clashing with the Southeast Asian theme going on.  If we had a 4th person, this fish would not have seemed like such a glutinous undertaking.

Shellfish Pot scallops, clams, mussels, shrimp, maitake, curry

Another repeat dish, and again, another repeat winner.  Again, the Southeast Asian flavors were singing here.  Salty, sweet, coconutty goodness bathed the large fresh servings of seafood.  Crusty bread was served on the side to help soak up the sauce.  Seriously, soo good!

Corn on the Cob goat cheese, espellete pepper, lime, cilantro

Smooth Obturator and Triple T seemed a little underwhelmed by the corn, but I liked it.  It had a great smokiness, salt, heat, and tang from the cheese and lime.  Corn on the cob ain’t the sexiest thing to eat, so avoid this if you’re on a date!

Roasted Cauliflower anchovy pesto, pine nut, lemon

I liked the umaminess going on here, but my dining companions thought the dish was just ok.  I think I just like to eat a lot of vegetables with my meals.

Strawberry Ricotta Crostata honeycomb ice cream

My first visit here was during the beginning of summer, so the strawberries were dripping with ripe sweetness.  By this time, strawberry season was certainly at it’s end, so as a result the dish didn’t blow us all away like before.  I still LOVED this dish for the buttery, flaky crust with a light sprinkling of salt.  The ice cream was a bit syrupy sweet but all together, this was another winner.  This dish is a definite must during strawberry season.

That’s right…

When friends ask for LA eats recommendations, I usually tell them Son of a Gun, Animal, and A Frame are the special American eats that LA has to offer.  I am now going to add Tar & Roses to that short list of places that you need to hit up.  Ironically, the aforementioned restaurants, Tar & Roses included, feature a strong Asian influence in its cooking style.  I guess this only goes to show how Asian cuisine is making its way into “New American” food.  Tar & Roses is one of the few places to impress me on multiple dining occasions.  I would definitely go back anytime!



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