Cheesecake $74 from San Laurel
It was an almost obscene scene. Despite general worries about a looming recession, new restaurants in LA are still finding new ways to enjoy leftovers at the table. I find it ironic to sit at Jose Andres’ new downtown restaurant and watch our waiter roast a fresh truffle over a small ring of burnt Basque cheesecake. Soft curls of mushrooms fall like snow, creating a fragrant small mountain. At the same time, with suspense and guilt, my phone rehearses on the cheesecake, capturing the scene—a $74 one.
To clarify, the cheesecake is $24, but the optional truffle addition is an extra $50. If you really want to eat, you can add a scoop of guava sorbet for $8 more, pushing the limit of this dish to $82 if you want.
Will this truffle .gif being shaved into cheesecake at a celebrity chef’s new restaurant make it an Instagram trend? Sure. And that’s probably the main point.
But just when I was ready to write down the whole experience as a failure, I took a bite. The cheesecake is silky and firm around the edges with the middle melting into a sweet puddle of custard. The truffle made me shake my head speechless because I couldn’t believe it. I was briefly taken aback by how well it complemented the dessert, because I was fascinated by the tartness of truffles with cheesecake.
It was more more. But I think about how two years ago we were all stuck in our homes, hoarding precious rolls of toilet paper, and decided that this passion was more than justifiable.
Dosa and Malai ganatoni onion rings at Pijja . Palace
Avish Naran’s favorite dosa is the crispy patties. When he and chef Miles Shorey decided to make onion rings at their new restaurant, they decided to incorporate Naran’s favorites. It’s one of many takeaways from American classics “India-ify” at what Naran likes to call his American sports bar “India-ify” in Silver Lake. The chunks of fat are dipped in fermented rice flour and lentil dough puffs up around the onions. The best onion rings don’t fall apart while you’re eating them. These hold up, with a crisp crunch and a little tangle when vinegar is added to the dough. They’re served with a sweet mango chutney, but you’ll probably want to order the sides of the curry leaf farm, yogurt, and Stilton sauce for dipping. These are also useful for dipping any crumbs of New Jersey pub-style pizza (sauce toppings and super-thin crust deep-fried in a pizza pan).
It’s hard to stop eating Malai ridatoni, Naran tries to capture diners’ obsession with vodka sauce but turns it into a unique treat of its own.
“There are a lot of similarities between some Indian cream sauces like tikka masala and vodka-style sauce, so we make it like vodka but it uses tomato paste, not whole tomatoes, ” I said.
It’s a wonderful bowl of noodles with delicious chewiness, swimming in a sunset-colored sauce stuck between the noodles. Imagine the creamy tomato sauce you know and love, enhanced by a spice blend that combines garam masala, cumin, garlic, and ginger. There’s a lot more depth than any other version around town, with the welcoming heat lingering.
The fact that Pijja Palace is located on the bottom floor of the Comfort Inn near Sunset Boulevard makes dinner there all the more unexpected and charming. Without a doubt, there’s a food blog that’s churning out “best restaurants in budget hotels” lists as I type.
https://www.latimes.com/food/story/2022-08-01/cheesecake-jose-andres-conrad-the-grand Recession, you say? Not for the $74 cheesecake at Jose Andres’ new place