The Tasting Kitchen was featured early this year in GQ’s list of 10 best new restaurants in America. In Los Angeles for the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to dine there and decide for ourselves if the lofty title was worthy. Having shopped at The Stronghold which is 2 doors down from the restaurant, the manager at the store validated our choice and assured us that Saul, the sommelier would take good care of us. There are two distinct areas in this smallish casual establishment … one that served as the main dining room and the other more of the communal variety close to the bar with a ton of energy.
The small oft-changing menu is held together with a metal clip with a specific format. Items like Veal & tuna crudo, beets, salsa rustica, Oysters and lentils rapini appear on the small plates side of the menu. Bigger plates on this day included meat dishes such as salmon with peas, pork loin and polenta, halibut with morels and the NY strip steak for $140 (yes – Wagyu beef etc.)
I started with West Coast Oysters simply flavored with a squeeze of lemon. Fresh, briny washed down with a glass of Menu Pineau Cheverny that was mineraly / lemony. Very refreshing.
Next up was Grilled Salmon with english peas and tendrils, garnished with grilled lemon and a lemon aioli for the sauce. The fish was seared on the outside but the inside barely experienced any heat (mostly raw). The crunchy peas suffered a similar fate. The dish was flavorful but a tad undercooked. The wine accompaniment was the Pinot Gamay Rose also from Cheverny.
The next course was my favorite … 3 cheeses – Keen’s cheddar from the UK, Ascutney from Vermont and the Monte Enebro goat cheese from Spain. Nutty, sharp, and vegetal flavors were apparent with wonderfully thick, airy slices of La Brea Bakery’s white bread with a gob of sweet butter on a board.
Overall – a decent restaurant but not worthy of the distinction bestowed upon by the food editor of GQ.