Of all the wonderful food I’ve consumed since I moved to Los Angeles eight years ago, I’ve had three superlative meals here: The first was an Okinawan meal in Monterey Park. The second was Vietnamese, in Long Beach. And the third was this weekend, a five-course meal comprised entirely of artfully composed sweets, in Hollywood.
They had something else in common besides being delicious: None of them were in places I could direct you to. They weren’t in restaurants. They were in secret venues (in two cases, private homes) that rely on friends-of-friend-of-friend recommendations to get people in seats. (Which is how I found myself at all three.)
Some great restaurants have evolved out of secret or illegal restaurants in the city, like Starry Kitchen, which is downtown near California Plaza. For several years, Chicks with Knives was a popular roving supper club that offered an evening in great real estate alongside great food.
But the chefs at the places I mentioned above don’t necessarily aspire to the commitment of an ongoing set-up like a restaurant or even bi-weekly affair. They just love to cook and create and dazzle.
Which Saturday night’s chefs did, and in a tiny kitchen, too. The course that made the gathering of 24 gasp was course 4, Chocolate Mousse, Orange Gelee, Praline Feuilletine, Chocolate Sponge. They were all equally elaborate, beautiful and of the “don’t try this at home” type of creation. Like course 1, my other favorite: Parmigiano Sablee, Lemon Marscapone Cream, Tomato Confit, Red Bell Pepper and Raspberry Gelee, and Modena reduction.
The entire meal cost $40 a person, with two wines. Tell us, what’s your favorite secret or not so secret place to find delicious dessert?