I got a little preview of John Sedlar's Playa during the Test Kitchen "reunion" that preceded its opening night. I STILL haven't made it to Rivera (unacceptable, I know), but I have had his tortillas florales which I absolutely love. I was looking forward to this dinner not only because I was excited to try more of Sedlar's food, but also because of its connection with Test Kitchen. During its run, I actually visited Test Kitchen quite a few times. Not many of those meals were blogged due to ridiculously dark lighting, but I have very fond memories of my dinners there. It was not always about the food for me--it was more about the ambiance of the place and the company I had while eating there.
Our table of four tried a few of the dishes on the condensed menu offered that night. The menu at Playa now includes everything that we tried, plus some more. Everything was decent, but in the end, the most impressive part of Playa was the awe-inspiring wall of liqueur. Throughout the night the bartenders climb up and down a ladder to reach the bottles on the upper shelves. It was almost like a live dinner show, and I was actually a little nervous for them when they got up to the upper rungs. Call me easily amused, but I was very entertained by it.
The vibe in the restaurant is nothing like the dark, intimate setting of Grace, which occupied the space previously. The wall of alcohol is brightly lit, and there are large light fixtures overhead that reminded me of furry sea urchins--weird, but perhaps an allusion to the beach? I still haven't decided how I feel about them. Overall, Playa feels young and lively, and the playfulness is reflected in the food.
7360 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
We all tried various cocktails throughout the night, but sadly I don't even know what my favorite one was called. All I know is, it was pink, it had strawberries, and Mr. Julian Cox made it. Maybe that's all you need to know. The one that's pictured here had St. Germain liqueur in it (my favorite), but actually turned out to be a little too strong for me.
Grilled octopus, palm hearts, scallions, oven-dried cherry tomatoes, oven-dred red onion
Maybe I just don't like grilled octopus. The texture just wasn't what I was wanting. I miss the octopus in Spain.
Sweet peppers, crab, corn, olive oil, sorbet morado, rosemary oil, sal de colima, citrus beet pintura
Interestingly cold...and interestingly named...
Flor de Calabaza
Squash blossoms, Spanish bacalao, veal reduction, chorizo jus, capers, castelvetrano oil
Salty, but I guess bacalao is just always salty.
Maize Cake Breakfast
63 degree egg, pan-searned potato, espuma de queso, black trumpet mushrooms, truffle cheese
This one is a winner. Runny egg, woody mushrooms, and truffle-perfumed cheese. I want this for breakfast!
Arroz con Pato
Duck confit, baby vegetable pickles, arroz blanco jus, fresno chilies, chives, micro cilantro
I've had some bad duck confit, but I still always order it if it's on the menu. This preparation was actually really good. Not too salty and falling off the bone. The baby vegetables were so tiny though, I don't know if they were cute or a little ridiculous.
Wild mushroom duxelle dumpling, filet mignon, chipotle béarnaise
This was my favorite savory dish of the night. I loved the mushrooms in the masa, and that chipotle béarnaise is so rich and delicious, I needed something to mop it up.
A little ambivalent about this...
Mocha sponge, espresso crème, toffee honeycomb, colombian chocolate ice cream
When this dessert arrives, the server pours a warm chocolate sauce over a chocolate sphere, which melts the shell of the sphere and exposes some fresh raspberries. The toffee honeycomb adds a nice crunchy texture in contrast to the soft, sponge cake.
Chocolate cake, chocolate glaze, mescal ice cream, caramel popcorn, spanish peanuts, hibiscus sauce, blackberry basil sorbet
Also so good! The caramel popcorn was sweet and crunchy, and the tart sorbet was great with the chocolate cake. Most interesting component on the plate, however, was the mescal ice cream!
So basically, the best part of this meal was the desserts! So good, and such a perfect ending.