Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The Foundry on Melrose
Walk off bustling Melrose Ave into The Foundry and you are hit with its sleek Art Deco design, lots of pretty faces on the staff, and more hustle and bustle. They wanted to seat us on the back patio, but we balked and requested an inside table, of which I was initially disappointed to see was at the end of the row, right across from the kitchen, where chef Eric Greenspan was standing outside of, barking orders at his crew on the line. I thought it was too loud distracting. We were off to a rocky start. We were rushed like crazy. Amuses came to the table immediately, before our Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose was poured by the sommelier. We selected the tasting menu, and they wasted no time in firing the order. We told our waiter we like to go slowly - dining out is our big event for the night. We were not going on to a show or club; this is our (favorite) entertainment.
After a second amuse of smoked mackerel and candied orange, the first course of (under seasoned) tuna tartar with shihito peppers, sitting in a thin layer of melon soup was brought out. As they were clearing our plates, I spotted our next course (out-of-this-world spot prawns with saffron hollandaise) sitting, completed, on the counter. They were brought out instantly. "Slow down!!!" we said. Finally, they listened.
The restaurant is more than just an eating experience. Eric puts on a show. Loud, frenetic, brash, and, ultimately, charming. Several times he came to our table – first he apologized for moving too fast for us- to help serve and describe our dishes. When not expediting, he was making the rounds, making everyone feel welcome. There is a particular energy, excitement, and atmosphere at The Foundry, a little more east coast feel than west. It kind of reminded me of Lucques, where you can sit back and relax in an elegant, yet comfortable environment.
Midway through out meal, in our own signature style, we interrupted the tasting menu after the incredible crispy veal sweetbreads with black eyed peas, cheery tomatoes and grape puree. God, I love sweetbreads! These were great- fried to a beautiful golden crisp on the outside, and that one of a kind fatty, creamy, textural heaven on the inside.
We initially wanted another round of sweetbreads, and thought we would challenge Eric (and get him in the kitchen) by asking for them with different accompaniments – but he one-upped us. Eric presented us with a very special Spanish pork item I am not a liberty to name, the most gorgeous ham I have ever seen. A deep red, almost magenta tinted, with fat marbled into it, rather than just the lone strip on the side, placed on top of split heirloom beans. Our waiter gave us each a glass of Naia verdejo he selected to enjoy with the pork.
We soon got to talking to him about wine. He helped open a wine bar in Chicago, and was very knowledgeable – not a wine snob, but a real wine fan. And after that (still not back on the tasting menu), we shared an order of the pork belly, served with an avocado puree. Just how I like my fat: served with fat. The pork belly was an extra they had made, and gave it to us. This was the best part – we wanted to play with the menu and have an adventurous dining experience, and they stepped up to the plate and gave it to us.
Ok, back to the tasting menu. Up next was the breast of squab. The squab, however excellent, turned out to be secondary to its accompaniments of blood sausage, pan fried (and perfect) gnocchi, and swiss chard, which tasted like the best creamed spinach you’ve never had. The squab was good too, but was overshadowed and upstaged by the sides. He could make the blood sausage the main, and it would be a well-balanced, memorable dish.
For dessert we had little spiced donuts (proceeded by a satisfying cheese course, also off the tasting menu). Just the right size dessert: small. I have to admit, though, after all these fabulous courses. I would have preferred one more savory instead of dessert. When we got the bill, we had been comped about one third of our meal and wine. What a treat. We started off on the wrong foot, but Eric and his staff know how to win you over with their charm and generosity, and talent. The Foundry puts on quite a show, and we were drawn right into the center of it.
The Foundry on Melrose
7465 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046