Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Michael Voltaggio moves from Top Chef's kitchen to the Dining Room

Michael VoltaggioWe like the spoon tattoo, Michael!

That's the Dining Room at the Langham Huntington Hotel, where previous chef Craig Strong netted a Michelin star. The 100-year old Huntington Hotel is a lovely, but staid place, but it's getting a one-two punch of new energy. First salvo is appointing 30-year old Michael Voltaggio, who helped The Bazaar net four stars from S. Irene. Voltaggio and his brother Bryan will both be competing on the new season of Top Chef: Las Vegas starting Wednesday, so that should be interesting. Second, the Dining Room is set to close Jan. 1, 2009 for a three to four month renovation and "repositioning" to freshen things up a bit.

IMG_0408A truffled brioche: not molecular, just utterly delicious. Why isn't there a truffled brioche truck?

We were invited to try some of Voltaggio's creations for the Dining Room last night -- here's a few of his ideas, many reminiscent of the Bazaar:

- Yellowtail was paired with watermelon and topped with a briny-tasting "sea sponge" -- kind of a a cross between a marshmallow and a mousse.

IMG_0395- Octopus (left) rested on a puree with a "buttered popcorn" flavor -- the crunchy, tangy-sweet slice of punched-out piquillo pepper made it fun.
- Turbot (right) was topped with crunchy tomato granola, which worked well with the mild fish.

IMG_0404- Lamb confit was paired with silky pickled lamb tongue, both cooked sous-vide.

- Suckling pig (below) was a very refined take on the rustic dish, topped with a salty dish of...pork skin?

- Chocolately coffee-flavored minicakes were topped with espresso mousse frozen with liquid nitrogren, with lemon curd sauce providing a welcome tart foil to the chocolate.

Sommelier Matthew Lathan picked out some fascinating pairings for our meal, including one course with Unibroue 17 Strong Dark Ale. I particularly liked Paringa's sparkling shiraz with the chocolate dessert.

Stay tuned for the Voltaggio brothers "Top Chef" debut Wednesday on Bravo!


carter said...

Since I never tasted Craig's creations at the Ritz Carlton, I doubt I will ever try any of Michael's either, with offal/awful sounding stuff like you mentioned.
Weird for weird sakes doesn't cut it.

H. C. said...

Was at last night's preview dinner and I too was pleased with the dishes and the eccentric wine pairings. That buttery chardonnay w the buttered popcorn puree + octopus was my most memorable one

@carter, there were actually very few offally dishes in Michael's menu. If anything, I think the weirdness is toned down to accommodate the Pasadena scene.