Chefs’ Creativity Makes Me Uncool
Dog lover, celebrity chef, rock star and total doll, Dakota Weiss, tweeted me at DeathbedFood recently, inviting me to her restaurant at the W Hotel in Westwood called NINE THIRTY. The chef had her new summer menu ready and asked me to try it out:
New menu … new veggie dish. Sweet corn polenta “tamale” succotash, truffles! http://pic.twitter.com/ru7vYHMQ
I don’t remember where I was, but I nearly dropped my iPhone in my rush to accept, tweeting back (right away). Frankly, she had me at “sweet corn polenta“. I wonder what she thought of my giddy return tweet (this was mid Saturday afternoon mind you).
How about tonight.
Believe me, I know about the “coolness code” like in the movie “Swingers” (don’t call them back until at least two days later-five days is even better). Remember how uncool it was in the movie when the dude falls for a girl he meets. Then that very same night he calls her before she even gets home, and worse, ends up leaving her numerous “sketchy” voicemails,
While the outcome for him was decidedly devastating, luckily, for me, it turned out to be LOVE – with my discovery that Chef Dakota’s summer menu is not your “Father’s” summer menu. Honestly, this whole experience was to die for … every morsel and every second of the dining experience.
After greeting us in the dining room, she was off to do her magic in the kitchen. Service began with her Summer Squash Carpaccio which she combined with shiitake mushroom “bacon” and white soy truffle vinaigrette. Where does she come up with these ideas? Stunning.
Next, Grilled Peach with Burrata with arugula, smoked macadamia nuts, and mint pesto. Speaking of nuts, Chef Dakota explained she smokes them “in house”, but not with a traditional smoker. Instead, she gets the wood chips hot on the stove top, and, when good and smokey, places them into some “ancient” toaster oven in the kitchen (which no longer works). She puts the smoking wood in there with the nuts and slams the door closed! Voila, an improvised “smoker”.
OK, now on to the Brandy Spiked Chicken Liver Mousse served stuffed into a Gala apple and porcini mascarpone sauce. Hello, I mean, Hellooooo! No words can explain how inventive and mouthwatering this is.
Followed by her Char Grilled Thick Cut Hobbs Bacon with apple-Habanero chimichurri. I think Chef Dakota said she char grills the bacon out by the pool of the hotel- “The Backyard” (where I need to go next-they serve all kinds of char grilled dishes poolside). But, back to the bacon. All I can say is “glory be” … What?! Did I just type that? Did my parents just hijack this blog?
She then served Soft Shell Blue Crab topped with fried green tomatoes, accompanied by smoked ancho chile remoulade, My first fried green tomatoes, and my new love.
We moved on to the House Smoked Sardines with grilled garlic bread and delicious tomato jam. House smoked … remember the toaster oven story? I didn’t ask. This dish was a total knockout.
Ohhhh this was good. Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with bruleed apricots, bacon hollandaise and topped with fresh shaved summer truffles. DeathbedFood. Period.
When she brought out the Grilled Lamb Chop, I was shocked. This may be the best I’ve tried in my entire life. Her secret? According the Chef Dakota, the farm she sources the lamb from consistently delivers taste beyond delicate and delicious.
Somewhere during dinner, we met her Summer Corn Polenta “Tamale” with succotash salad and fresh shaved summer truffles. Saying this is a Tamale is like saying a Maserati is a sporty sedan. Please, just go and order this dish so you can help me find the words to explain how mind blowing it is.
Chef Dakota, you are truly one of a kind – as is your summer menu. See you poolside next … perhaps with your dog there enjoying that special “doggie” food you serve your guests’ pets!