Petrossian: All Talk, All Bite
Posted by Austios on February 2, 2010
There are not many things in life that truly and fully live up to its hype. Perhaps a handful of bands and musicians, movies, automobiles, tech gadgets, and other means of entertainment. One such of these things, especially, can be restaurants. Because food is very subjective in itself, it is often difficult for food establishments to please everybody and live up to the reputation that some people build up for it.
However, there are some restaurants that do succeed in living up to the hype of its loyal patrons. I personally do not allow a restaurant to become too hyped up in my mind, as speaking from personal experience, makes the dining experience more pleasant. But not to worry, I do not let myself lower my expectations so much that my experience thus becomes biased. I’m not that naïve.
No matter whichever way you slice it, any place will never satisfy everybody’s appetite or palate, but it’s the places that don’t allow the subjectivity affect their execution of their cuisine.
One such place, I believe, is Petrossian Boutique & Café in West Hollywood. Situated in the somewhat “middle ground” that is between the Sunset strip of WeHo and Beverly Hills, this little gem sits in a rather more quiet neighborhood along Robertson Blvd, away from the hustle and bustle of the Beverly Center and La Cienega’s “Restaurant Row” just a quarter of a mile away. In fact, I am glad that this is away from restaurant row, otherwise it would have to constantly compete with the guys next door.
The space is simple but beautiful. A primarily a white color scheme, its subtleness disallows the diner to become distracted from what truly matters: the food. I came here with Felicia, Andee, and ’Nish, however the latter 2 were running late respectively from Irvine and Riverside, so it just ended up being just Felicia and I. She had apparently already arrived while I was circling the block in an attempt to find parking, finding her sat in the dining room. However, the restaurant being relatively empty at the time, she asked if I wanted to sit in the boutique, in which we would have a view of the relatively open kitchen. I say “relatively” because there is a somewhat of a lattice looking shelf/wall in the way. I mean, there are open spaces for where the dishes come out, but it was a little disappointing to have the view partially obstructed.
We were in fact here for DineLA, however we knew when I first had made this reservation that we were going to order off the a la carte menu, refusing to skip out on the infamous truffle mac n cheese. I had brought a bottle of wine, so Felicia offered to pick up the tab on one other dish in lieu of splitting the corkage fee. So right off the bat, we were transforming our 3 course DineLA menu into a 5 course menu.
For my appetizer, I ordered the shrimp papillote with passion fruit and chili/ginger sauces. For the entrée, I could not resist ordering the braised pork belly with soft polenta and balsamic relish onions. And for dessert, the Petrossian Chocolate Moelleux, which was described to me as being a fudgy cake.
Executive Chef Ben Bailly started us off with an amuse bouche, sending out a platter of assorted blinis with caviar, salmon roe, and trout roe. Ok seriously, caviar? YES PLEASE!!! I’ve had salmon roe before (if you love sushi, you probably have as well), but I’ve never had trout roe before. The trout roe was subtly different and I loved all three.
Our appetizers then came out. We actually had both ordered the shrimp papillote, and looking back in retrospect, we should have ordered different items so we could try more. Oh well, c’est la vie. But this dish was great. The shrimp was perfect, the exterior was perfectly crunchy, and the sauces paired very well. I attempted as much as I could to get as much sauce as I could on the 3 pieces. These would make for an awesome finger food.
Next came our 2 supplements. I probably could have attacked the truffle mac n cheese as soon as it hit the table, but being the Asian foodie blogger that I am, I grabbed my camera instead. We took turns taking pictures of both the truffle mac n cheese and the napoleon tartare. The tartare was beautiful with a thick layer of caviar sandwiched in between 2 generous layers of raw chopped steak. I knew we were in for a treat
Oh…my… GOD!!! The truffle mac n cheese is BEYOND phenomenal!!! There is a lot of hype over this dish and it did not fail to deliver. In fact, it went beyond the hype and easily blew us out of the water. The beautiful al dente orrechiette pasta in a rich parmesan cream sauce with bacon, chives, and sliced black truffles hit it out of the park. The entire time while devouring this dish, we could not stop saying how good it was. Who would have though of taking such a simple and comforting dish such as macaroni and cheese and making it into such an indulgent and luxurious delicacy? I probably could have eaten an entire bowl of this and be set for the night.
Not to take a back seat to the mac n cheese, the napoleon tartare was great as well. A quite large portion, the fresh steak with a touch of mustard was a great balance to the salty caviar. We probably could have used a couple more pieces of crostini to eat with it, but not that it needed it. We also were a little surprised given the amount of caviar in this dish and the sheer portion size, it would be more than it actually is. What I loved especially about this is that, according to Dan, our server, Chef Bailly “seasoned it himself personally”, which makes it sound like he normally doesn’t. *shrug*
Just as we were expecting to receive our entrees, Chef Bailly sends out another complimentary dish, the wild mushroom cappuccino. With braised chestnuts and croutons, this complex soup has such a depth of flavor that inferior soups can only imagine in their wildest dreams. The braised chestnuts resting at the bottom offered great texture and added further to the flavor profile of the soup. Needless to say, I forewent the spoon and sipped it as if were actually a cappuccino.
When our entrees finally arrived, I felt like as if I had already had an entrée. However, who could succeed in resisting pork belly? I thought so. A large piece in itself, the top was glistening like the moonlight off of the ocean surface from all the melted pork fat. I was ecstatic to see that my camera accentuated the gloss coming off the pork belly. Served on a bed of polenta and topped with a quenelle of balsamic relish onions, it was just a sight to be had. The succulent pork belly, cheesy and smooth polenta and sweet onion relish was a match made in heaven of flavors. Though I used my knife, it didn’t need it. And while this polenta doesn’t compare to Ludo’s version, it was still really good. The onions added just a touch of sweetness to help balance the dish.
We FINALLY arrived at dessert. While my Chocolate Moelleux was good, I do have to grudgingly admit that it was the least exciting dish of the night. Though the caramel ice cream rolled in pistachios was good. Presentation was rather simplistic as well.
Felicia ordered the Sicilian pistachio crème brulee. The burnt sugar on top had the perfect thickness and that wonderful “cracking” sound. Trust me; gently tap on the crust with the back of your spoon. You’ll know it when you hear it. Served without any garnishes, this dessert had a very complex yet wonderful flavor. I actually had picked out green tea, but Chef Bailly told us later that there was not any green tea in it. I actually felt ashamed that I had mistakenly picked out green tea. It wasn’t too sweet either. I really loved this dessert.
When our dessert course had arrived, following almost right behind was another dish that the chef sent out, the third dessert on the DineLA menu that neither of us had ordered, the vanilla panna cotta with strawberry jam. The panna cotta itself was light and had perfect texture. The strawberry jam was more like macerated strawberries, but they were just really good. The crushed pistachios sprinkled on top added that touch of textural contrast that I always look for in dishes.
When all was said and done, we laid our spoons in pseudo defeat. We were incredibly full, considering our planned 5 course meal turned into practically a 9 course meal. We finished the meal with a cappuccino. This is when apparently Chef Ben looked over at our table and Felicia gave him what I think was an “a-ok” sign. It was rather quick. It was then that he decided to take a moment from cleaning up.
I gotta say, Ben is probably one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Yes, you’ll need to get past his rather heavy accent, but as a fellow chef, I could tell he just absolutely enjoys what he does. While his following may not be as large Chef Ludo (but still growing), he’s very good about responding to others’ tweets, retweeting mentions, and overall interaction. As we were chatting about this and that, he offered up some chocolates from the boutique. Despite being very full, I cannot turn down chocolate. I forgot exactly what I had or to take a photo, but they were very good. My favorite was probably the one that was similar to a Ferraro Roche, but much better.
Service was outstanding. Dan was a superstar the entire evening. He was very courteous and very attentive, constantly filling our wine and waters without us needing to say a word. He actually casually had said when he brought our check, “You have inspired me to follow more chefs on Twitter”, after we had mentioned a couple of times that we’ve interacted with Chef Ben on multiple occasions but had never met him. In fact, the rest of the staff was very courteous as well. I’ve always believed that attentive and friendly service is what completes a fabulous dining experience filled with fantastic food.
There is no doubt that this restaurant and the food lived up to the hype. In fact, I would say this went above and beyond its hype. Felicia and I agreed that despite only being January, this may have set the bar very high for best meal of 2010.
I cannot WAIT to return. Merci Chef!!!
Petrossian Boutique & Restaurant
321 N. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048