We 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.
A 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.
- 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.
- 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!