AOC

Having lived in LA for a number of years has naturally led me to a fair amount of celebrity sitings.  I’ve seen Paris Hilton, Milla Jovovich, Charlize Theron, Matthew Perry and a random smattering of others.  But the coolest celebrity siting was Leonardo DiCaprio here at AOC when it was at it’s old location almost 7 years ago.
HOLLA!  Was I trying to capture the joyful occasion of Smooth Obturator’s birthday?  Uhh, I think not.  I mean, look.  The frickin’ cake was cut out of frame and he’s not even in the center of the photo.  But you can see who IS in the photo.  BOOM!  That’s right!  My buddy Leo.
 
Anyways, the food was equally as memorable as the A-list celebrity siting that night.  I have always wanted to go back, but it seems like AOC is old hat for many of my foodie buddies who are always on the look out for something new.  These days, I feel like I’ve exhausted the cities true gems so I am looking to revisit some of my favorites to see if they still retain the same allure
 
The Farmer’s Plate summer vegetables, tomato-eggplant jam, chickpea puree, burrata, grilled toast
The menu at AOC has too many good things to choose from.  It was just me and Perpetually Underwhelmed so we had to make sure not to over order, yet get a nice selection of items to satisfy our particular palates.  AOC is know for its seasonal, farm-to-market cuisine.  This dish was just that.  Simple grilled vegetables accompanied by different flavors and textures with the jam, puree, and cheese.  A great vegetarian dish.


Foie Gras Terrine brioche toast, sweet and sour prunes
Man was this PRICEY, like $30+ for this smidgen of foie.  It was smooth and salty.  The prunes added great balance, while the bit of seasoned herbs brightened things up a notch.  Not sure if this was worth the price tag, but the meal was on the company tab of Perpetually Underwhelmed so we just we didn’t think twice.

 

 
Arroz Negro squid, saffron aioli

This was definitely one of the favorite dishes of the night.  I’ve had a variation of this before, but this was by far the most delicious and well executed version. The rice was perfectly cooked with crisp bits along the skillet.  The squid was tender with just enough bite.  The aoili added some creamy brightness.  This is a must order.

Clams sherry, garlic, toast

Everywhere I’ve ever been, clams and mussels are always prepared pretty similarly.  Cooked in wine, butter, herbs, and the liqueur released from the shellfish itself.  These were pretty amazing because they were more like grilled in the skillet with this butteriness and some caramelization.  Hard to describe, but I certainly wished there were more clams to go around.  Another must order.

Spanish Fried Chicken romesco aioli, chili-cumin butter

We were pretty stuffed with the previous 4 dishes, but we trudged forward.  The chicken was very tender but I wasn’t a fan of the cumin heavy, salt light flavoring.  Perpetually Underwhelmed kept complaining it was too greasy.  Surprisingly, this was a really popular dish on Yelp.

Grilled Hanger Steak roquefort butter, shallot rings

The steak was a more balanced dish, but I couldn’t really enjoy it because I was just too full.  The roquefort butter was pretty strong.  Please avoid this if you don’t like blue cheese.

Butterscotch Pot de Crème fleur de sel, salted cashew cookies

Perpetually Underwhelmed was not impressed by the desserts but she sure did eat plenty of it.  This wasn’t the best pot de creme I’ve had.  It could have been smoother and softer.  The cashew cookies were pretty crunchy.  Not bad.

Berry Rhubarb Crisp buttermilk ice cream, streusel 

I cannot resist berry crisps and cobblers.  The tart fruit filling, the crunchy sweet topping, the cool creamy scoop of ice cream that melts into the warm nooks and crannies.  These kinds of desserts are a big favorite of mine even if they aren’t so original or interesting.

AOC is beyond solid.  It showcases the bounty of the seasons with the deft hand of a chef who knows  how to highlight the best of each ingredient.  I would come back any day of the week.  The menu has a large variety of items, which keeps things interesting.  It would have been better to come with a bigger group to get to try more things.  One ding, the place is darn pricey.  All of that with 2 glasses of wine came out to over $200 if  memory serves me correctly.  I guess we did order quite a bit of food for just 2 people but man I was not expecting that bill.  I don’t feel too guilty because some ridiculously rich person (Perpetually Underwhelmed’s boss) in Thailand footed the bill for us, so whateves.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome! 
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT go here

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