Restaurant Review – Nov. 15, 2007 – Joanne

AOC LA
A|O|C

Visited: April, 2007 - Dinner
Jack’s first visit to AOC had been highly satisfying. We had an opportunity to return in April and here are our collective thoughts.

We sat upstairs this time, which is exposed partially to the elements. The waiter was very knowledgeable and conversant about the food and the wines. We ordered a variety of wines by the glass; their available choices are quite good!

The bread is served with tapenade and olives. We did not have any luck getting butter, until it arrived with the prosciutto.

Proscuitto di Parma at AOC LA
Prosciutto di Parma
Lovely, but nothing special. Served with a small ramekin of great butter which made the bread sing.

House-made terrine with Mostarda
House-made terrine with Mostarda
Yum. Lots of pistachios and very well made. This terrine was a pleasure to consume. The mostarda was a nice accompaniment.

Fried oysters, celery root and cayenne aioli
Fried oysters, celery root and cayenne aioli

They served the aioli on the side for us – but it seemed to also come with the dressing for the celery root on the side – and that was weird. The celery root loves it’s dressing and it was purely naked with out it. The fried oysters were crispy on the outside and fluffy and juicy in the center. The aioli was great with them. Recommended.

Grilled scallops, saffron potatoes and blood orange
Grilled scallops, saffron potatoes and blood orange
This combination of citrus, saffron and grilling excelled with the scallops. Really good! I loved the potatoes, but didn’t get many of them…

Sautéed wild mushrooms persillade
Sautéed wild mushrooms persillade
These weren’t quite crispy enough or sauced enough for me. I think if we had ordered them to go with another dish rather than on their own, we would have enjoyed them more.

Roasted dates, parmesan and bacon
Roasted dates, parmesan and bacon
Yum! A twist on the traditional stuffed date, these are stuffed with parmesan and wrapped with bacon. Highly recommended!

Cauliflower, curry and red vinegar
Cauliflower, curry and red vinegar

This dish was a cauliflower epiphany for Jack on his first visit but tonight was nothing special. Our waiter explained that with this dish that can happen, but when it sings it really sings. Recommended with reservations.

Wood-roasted trout, white beans, rapini and olive
Wood-roasted trout, white beans, rapini and olive
Jack’s second round with this trout made him happy once again. The skin is crispy and the underling beans are plump and flavorful.

Cheese at AOC LA
Cheese
The cheese course at AOC might be worth a visit on its own merits. Great selection, good quality and nicely presented. Don't miss it!


Mini-Review – February 12, 2007 – Jack

Sign at AOC LA
A|O|C

8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles

Visited: February 12, 2007 - Dinner

I was steered to AOC by Alder (Vinography), who said I would love this restaurant. The décor is upscale modern bistro. The back left corner has a wood-burning oven surrounded by a L-shaped bar seating. White-clothed tables fill the room. There’s also a long row of bar seating on the right. It was jammed when I arrived, but I scored the last seat at the main bar. Smack in front of me is a cruvinet with about 50 wines – whites on the top, reds on the bottom. All of these wines are available by the glass, carafe or bottle. I think the last time I saw the cruvinet system was at the SoHo Kitchen & Bar, one of the greatest wine bars in US History (120 wines by the glass, now long closed). Basically with the cruvinet system, you attach a bottle to a hose in it and the wine is dispensed out a tap.

The menu is divided into six sections – the longest is also the first: charcuterie. This is always a good sign.

The Food
Grilled Scallops with saffron potatoes and blood orange
The grilled scallops were excellent but the saffron potatoes were just okay, and the very small blood orange slices did nothing to enhance the scallops. Still, I’d likely order this dish again if I ate there regularly.

Wood-roasted trout with white beans, rapini and olive $14
Cooked in the wood-burning oven, it was served in a small, cast-iron pan that kept the food quite warm. This dish was simply wonderful! (The portion size was meal-sized, too.) The ‘olive’ was more of a tapenade atop the trout.

Cauliflower, Curry and Red Vinegar $9
Simply put, this makes you like cauliflower. The trick is, they first cook it the wood-burning oven and then sauté it a bit.

Cheese Plate at AOC
The Cheese
Torta de la Serena (Extremadura, Sheep)
Sable du Boulonnais (Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Cow)
Castellot alt Urgell (Spain, Cow)

All three cheeses were in very good condition, and the La Serena, a soft, gooey cheese when young, was simply wonderful. Cheese is definitely a strength here. The night I visited they had 13 artisan cheese selections, including four from Spain.

Wines By The Glass
2003 Domaine Jo Pithon Les Pepinieres
(Excellent! Great fruit and acidity – no oak – one of the best Anjou’s I’ve ever had. 3-4+)

2004 Domaine Perrot-Minot Bourgogne Vielles Vignes
(Wow! One of the three best Bourgogne-level wines I’ve ever had. 3+)

2004 St. Magdalener Ansitz Waldgries Classico Alto Adige
(A new grape for me, Ansitz Waldgries)

I was twice offered a taste of a wine to see if I liked it before committing to purchasing a glass. Yeah, this is the way it should be! The staff, was very knowledgeable and passionate about wine. The more than 60 wines by the glass (including sparkling and dessert) can also be purchased by the carafe at about double the price minus $1…this is excellent. Two three-glass flights were offered that night – a Copain one and a Sparkling wine one (which included an Eric Bordelet)

The Wine List
There were a lot of good choices on the main wine list, yet Spain and Italy (a combined section of 3 each – never seen them combined before!) were certainly short-changed. I had to wonder why the beverage director hates(?) Italian wines, esp. as the food served here would be best matched with Italian wine, rather than the heavy concentration of California and French wines.

Summation
I’ll go back next trip to L.A.



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