Friday, October 16, 2009

Tastes of Fall

Brown Butter Roasted Halibut and Fennel Sausage & Ricotta Flatbread at Bar Marmont

When I heard about the new fall items on Bar Marmont's menu, I decided to use it as an excuse to reacquaint myself with the old West Hollywood landmark (it's been years since I was last here). I also used it as an excuse to reconnect with a friend whom I had not seen in nearly a year. So, earlier this week, I made the trek from the valley over the hills to meet my dear friend at the Chateau.

We arrived a little early for our reservation, so relaxed for a bit at the bar. While there, we took a moment to chat with the bartender and soak in our surroundings. Mellow. The mood was low-key and mellow with the exception of our drinks (the Anejo Old-Fashioned is an interesting recipe), which were well-mixed and added just the right amount of kick that we wanted for our evening. A perfect blend for two people who planned on doing lots of talking and laughing.

When our table was ready and we were seated, we proceeded to order up: Cheddar Apple Salad with Pancetta and Pumpkin seeds (can't get more fall than pumpkin), Fennel Sausage & Ricotta Flatbread with Squash Blossoms (squash=fall as well), and Brown Butter Roasted Halibut with Almonds & Haricots Vert. Mmmm...we could feel our mouths watering.

It didn't take long for our food to come out. The presentation of our plates was simple and straightforward (I'm a big believer of less is more). While Executive Chef Carolynn Spence did a fine job of selecting ingredients that capture the essence of the season, sadly, we found our dishes to be over-salted. We wanted so badly to enjoy our dinner, and were looking forward to that explosion of rich, warm fall flavors full of spice that remind us of holiday cooking. Hidden underneath all that salt, we believed they were there.

Where the kitchen failed, the drinks, music, decor, atmosphere and company made up for. We sat back slightly disappointed in our dinner, but moved on to happier conversation about all that's passed since the last time we saw each other, recounted some memories and discussed the scandalous history of Chateau Marmont, all the while sipping on our Dorothy Palmers.

The evening wasn't a complete let-down. My friend and I got a chance to do some much needed catching up, and the bartender's mixology skills impressed me enough to keep Bar Marmont on my radar for mid-week drinks. Harry Cohn, founder of Columbia Pictures, once said, "If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont." I would add to that, If you must discuss the topic of "trouble," do it at Bar Marmont."


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