My friend Emily is moving. She isn’t quite sure where yet, but last night, we had a feast. Emily and I aren’t best friends, actually we are kind of new friends, but our love of food brings us together for a meal every now and then so I thought it only appropriate she leave LA with a fully satisfied belly and palate. We began by making a sort of “wish list” of restaurants that we’d like to try in LA and, after narrowing it down, we settled on Tavern in Brentwood. With a sort of French, rustic, farm fresh menu and a stellar atrium-style atmosphere, it was the perfect place to share our last meal in Los Angeles together. And who can go to dinner without spending some time at the spa first? Not me 🙂
We began our day at 3 o’clock at Olympic Spa, a Korean Spa on, you guessed it, Olympic. Korean Spas are all over LA and they are great because they are relatively cheap. We only paid $15 to soak and steam to our little hearts’ content. They have a few hot tubs at various temperatures and this one hot pool that contains mugwort, (I think I’m spelling that correctly) it’s a herb that promotes great circulation, regulates menstrual cycles, improves the look of skin, and has countless other health benefits. Each time we sat in one of the pools and got really hot, then we would go sit in the cold pool. This also contributes to better circulation. Though tough at first, it actually felt amazing. One of my favorite things. So I bet you are thinking, “$15 bucks? Geez! Whats the catch?” Well the catch is…everyone is naked. Not kinda naked, not half-naked, but stark freakin naked! I thought it would be awkward, but it really wasn’t. There were women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities and as Emily pointed out, it actually makes you sort of appreciate what you have and realize that everyone’s body looks the same in the end. I even got a scrub and yes, that too, was done naked. Totally exhilarating if you ask me. After all this we sipped delicious tea and took a little nap on the heated, jade tile floor. By 5:30 we were back at Emily’s place getting ready for dinner.
When we arrived at Tavern we were promptly seated in the coveted “corner table.” The dining room is this beautiful, atrium-style room lined with leather booths and fancy cloth chairs. It was still light outside so it was really like sitting out doors.
We both ordered cocktails, I ordered a vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit concoction and Emily got a refreshing blend of vodka (I think) cilantro and jalapeno. It reminded me of a less sweet mojito. We also ordered the special appetizer they had for the night and now I will make a sad attempt to explain to you how amazing it was. Creamy polenta, topped with grilled asparagus and freshly shaved parmesan cheese. On the very top there was an egg. This egg might have been my favorite egg I’ve ever eaten. Somehow the managed to cook the egg in the style of a hard-boiled egg, but with a gloriously, runny center. The waitress said that they roll it in parmesan and bread crumbs and then flash fry it, but I still cannot wrap my head around how the white was cooked without cooking the center. When you cut into it and all the yolk ran over the asparagus and polenta, the flavors were rich and downright magical.
For the entrees, I ordered the pork confit, which was the most tender pork shoulder I have ever eaten, submerged in duck fat and slow cooked for hours. This was served atop red cabbage that had a pickled, slightly sweet flavor, and topped with caramelized apples. On the side were potatoes, but not just any potatoes. These golden lovelies were pan-fried in none other than…you guessed it, duck fat! They were so crispy on the outside with a perfectly soft center that I thought I was going to die right there. They seriously might have been my favorite part of the entree.
Emily ordered Boeuf Bourguignon with bacon served with wild mushrooms atop mashed potatoes. It was cooked “old school” as the waitress described. The meat was tender, but lacked a lot of flavor. The mushrooms were definitely the star of this dish.
After dinner we ordered the Meyer Lemon pie. I have a habit of deliberately ordering the weirdest dessert on the menu. I do this for two reasons. One, when you put two flavors that do not seem to go together in the same dish, and top sed dish with some kind of fresh creme, it is almost always delicious. Two, chocolate is boring. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate. But for some reason I think super great restaurants get lazy with chocolate and think it will always be great. It generally disappoints me so I just stopped ordering it. (The exception to this rule would be the chocolate creme brulee at Barbrix, it definitely did not disappoint. Oh and order it with a port and you’ll really be cookin’) Back to this lemon pie. It was more like a pastry than a pie, or maybe a mini, crust on all sides sort of pie. They served this with a creme fraiche ice cream and blue berries. The perfect end to a meal on a rather warm, almost summer evening.
All in all, I would definitely recommend Tavern to you, but skip the Boeuf Bourguignon. Great idea in theory, but not in practice. It will be a while before I can afford to go out like this again so until then, I will live on the memory of that asparagus appetizer and those duck fat fried potatoes. Mmmm Mmmm!