Previously, I'd only had Chef Laurent Quenioux's dishes at food events such as Taste of the Nation and the Gold Standard. Sadly I didn't get a chance to make it to his restaurant, Bistro LQ, before it unexpectedly closed. Now, Chef Quenioux is making Starry Kitchen, the popular downtown lunchtime spot of Ngyuen and Thi Tran, a temporary home where he can pop-up with a concept he's calling "LQ Fooding Around in LA." Starting the first week of June, Chef Quenioux will be doing dinners Sunday through Tuesday for the next three to six months. The prix fixe menu is set at a very reasonable $45, and expect the menu to keep changing. Check out Starry Kitchen's website for details and updates.
LQ @ SK
Laurent Quenioux at Starry Kitchen
350 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071
dining date: 5/23/11
So, escamoles are the larvae of ants. Yes, ants. I'd never had them before and didn't really know what to expect. Sadly, after all the trouble that went into acquiring the little eggs, they were a little anti-climatic for me. I don't think they have a strong taste to them since the most prominent flavor in the little bite was that of the corn tortilla. The little shot of beer was a fun accompaniment.
Oxtail compote, pickled spring vegetables, mustard tapioca
I was a little confused by this dish. The oxtail was lukewarm and one of the two "pickled spring vegetables" really just tasted like a slice of deli pickle. The dish seemed incomplete to me, like the oxtail had been shredded in preparation for a larger, more complex dish, rather than to stand on its own. Also, the mustard tapioca was odd--as expected though since I didn't really like Chef Queniox's uni tapioca either.
Tai snapper, citruses, zucchini, tomatoes, kohlrabi, smoked black sea salts
While it was beautiful to look at, with colors that evoked thoughts of spring, the fish itself was incredibly mild. The accompaniments were interesting--the kohlrabi purée under the fish tasted of cabbage, the citrus segments a nice burst of acidity, but the most flavorful part of the dish was the half-leaves of basil.
Teriyaki rabbit albondigas, teriyaki foie gras, miso, green garlic tempura
With this dish, the meal really started to pick up. This was a fantastic preparation of foie gras. I was apprehensive about the teriyaki, worried that the dish would be too sweet, but there was a nice balance to the dish. The rabbit albondigas were juicy little balls of savory goodness. I only wish I had had the balls to ask for more balls! There were also fresh little pieces of fava beans and a tempura of green garlic and shiso leaf.
Veal sweetbreads, morels, chanterelles, shishito peppers, yuzu kosho
Another winning dish! Using Starry Kitchen's recipe for chicken karaage, Chef Quenioux simply substituted veal sweetbreads for the meat. Sitting on a bed of forbidden black rice purée (who does this?? it works!) the fried offal nuggets were satisfyingly peppery, and juicy. I ate the accompanying shishito peppers with caution, but I was lucky that night and didn't run into a super spicy one.
Chocolate chipotle mousse, lime serrano gel, cinnamon soil
Dessert actually turned out to be infinitely spicier than the previous shishito peppers. There was an abundant amount of chipotle in the chocolate mousse, but it was so delicious I ignored my inability to handle heat and did all but lick my plate clean. I only wish the churro could have been hot out of the fryer, but I was excited about the cinnamon soil. It provided that extra cinnamon sugar I'm always looking for in my churros. The lime serrano gel had little basil seeds and was a nice acidic contrast. And of course, the little cilantro flowers made me happy :)
Me + Marian + rosés!
Photo by KevinEats
For this special preview dinner Jill of DomainLA put together a fantastic wine pairing...of all rosés! This was probably another highlight of the night. I'd never encountered an all rosé paring before and I smiled in delight as glass after glass of light pink hues arrived at our table. Of course, the pairings worked very well with the dishes.
Me + Chef Quenioux
Photo by KevinEats
Rarely does a menu progress from good to great, and this meal did just that--I usually find appetizer courses more interesting and entrees to be lackluster. This was definitely a rare occasion that will stand out for that reason. Seating is very limited, and I do think this is a meal worth checking out so don't wait to make a reservation. I would love to come back for another dinner and "food around" some more with Chef Quenioux!