This past Wednesday, foodie Web site FoodDigger invited me and nine other lucky bloggers to BondSt in the Thompson Hotel Beverly Hills to not only discuss the site’s new and evolving FlavorMatch feature (think Match.com dating survey for foodies; more later) but to experience an ambitious 11-course dinner created by BondSt Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski.
The epic three-hour dinner, presented in a tasting room on the hotel’s beautiful rooftop bar patio, featured an array of ethnic dishes cooked in the classic French style with each item plated like little pieces of edible artwork. Redzikowski, who previously worked at the Bellagio in Vegas before arriving here last November, shrugs off any comparison of his style to molecular gastronomy, saying that he doesn’t feel he’s sophisticated enough to call it that. In any case, yes, there were still some taste explosions, a bit of foam and food spheres involved.
Of course since this was a dinner with bloggers, the cameras were always out. So many food porntastic shots to be taken! Unfortunately since the room was “romantically lit” we took to using tea lights and mini flashlights to light up the shots. Yes, thankfully it seems most food bloggers don’t use flash anymore. But every now and then our cameras’ preflashes would cockblock each other’s shots. Oh well.
The following is the night’s menu in addition to its pairings and some of my notes, most of which were illegible. I’m not used to handwriting anymore! Prices aren’t listed since a majority of the dishes aren’t available on the restaurant’s regular menu.
Edible Prosecco Sangria: A sphere that was like a hard sorbet. This one was very tart and pucker-inducing. Made with Bing cherries and Rainier cherries. A nice palate cleanser at least.
Quail Egg, Canadian chanterelles, parsley, proscuitto paired with Theo Minges 2007 Riesling Germany: Yum! Savory. Saltiness paired well with sweetness of Riesling. Spoon down to the bottom of the glass and sip it all to get the parsley.
Foie Gras, spiced rice crispy treats, yogurt in three forms paired with Palari Faro 2003 Spain: Liked the texture of the rice crispy treat juxtaposed to the creaminess of the foie gras. The yogurt is presented here in powder, chip and pudding.
Alaskan King Crab in its butter, preserved Meyer lemon paired with Zuiyo Junmai Sake: This was my favorite and I totally could have polished off a big bowl of this. Mmm. Can’t go wrong with fresh crab meat, lemon and butter.
Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Ravioli, beets, ultra mini onion, red pepper jus paired with Le Grand Vallon Condrieu 2007 France
Halibut, parsley, garlic chip, “compressed egg,” beurre rouge (Cabernet sauce) paired with Louis Latour 2006 Montagny Premier Cru France
Japanese Bouillabaisse with lobster squid, uni rouille (flour butter?) and paired with Le Galantin Rose Bandol 2008: Beautiful presentation. Tasty with a nice kick from the pepper.
“Vietnamese Sandwich,” handmade sourdough baguette, pork, pickled carrots paired with Singha Beer: This you can actually get at BondSt and it’s $5 for this teeny tiny sandwich. Twas all right. Def fun and tasty with the beer.
Sonoma Lamb Shoulder, potato puree, carrot-ginger “cappuccino” paired with Txakoli Xarmant Spain: Nice subtle hit from the cappuccino. Potato puree was my favorite part; so buttery and creamy.
Mochi Donuts, candied rhubarb, yogurt, coconut ice cream: Fried mochi! Frickin awesome. The flavor of this reminded me of a Filipino dessert, can’t put my finger on it but I loved it.
“Mango Lassi”: Mango gelee, mint oil and mango chip. Redzikowski said he created this because he loves mango lassis. I do, too, but was disappointed to find that this wasn’t as sweet as a nice ripe mango. Another blogger said, “I would have liked this better if they gave this to us before the donuts.” Totally agree. Would have been nice to finish on a sweet note.
“Bazooka Joe” on the rocks: A strawberry, rhubarb, Veev shot based on the bar’s newly launched Bazooka Joe cocktail. Very sweet, syrupy and fruity. Tasted more of strawberry than bubblegum. Fun idea but was just OK in the tasting. This was accompanied by a tiny bag of curry popcorn which disappointingly didn’t taste as curry-ish as I thought. A creamy, rich chocolate truffle was presented alongside in a colorful origami box.
I was able to sample some of BondSt’s cocktails as well thanks to our generous FoodDigger hosts. The light and refreshing saketini we had before dinner was made with Belvedere vodka, sake and lemon sour thankfully tasted more like the sake than anything.
Curious about how BondSt does Manhattans, I ordered one first making sure to ask for it stirred not shaken. “Hardly anyone ever asks for something to be stirred,” the bartender said, not snobby but just surprised. I only had a couple sips of this but fellow blogger H.C. noted, “I think they forgot the bitters.” I was just glad to taste bourbon again after a self-imposed several-week hiatus so hadn’t noticed.
H.C. had ordered the bar’s specialty cocktail, Smoke & Mirrors ($14), which consisted of Ardbeg Scotch, ginger elixir and lime juice. Blech! I wasn’t a fan of the earthy flavor of the scotch mixed with the astringent ginger. Blogger Christine let us sample her off-the-menu Cactus Cooler cocktail which, although not pink and thick, was a dead ringer flavorwise of Pepto Bismol. Not good.
Since BondSt had been on my list of bars to check out, I was glad that I didn’t have to spend my own money to find out that the cocktails here weren’t all that impressive. Although, I did enjoy the sip I had of someone’s Cartel cocktail ($14). Made with Belvedere Orange, orange juice, cranberry juice, muddled jalapeno and sugar rim. Loved the kick of the jalapeno paired with the sweetness of the OJ and sugar rim.
In any case, I think this was one of the best dinners I’ve ever been to. Loved the food, the company and all those pairings! It was also cool to learn more about FoodDigger, a restaurant guide site that provides reviews as well as blog links from people whose taste you trust, be they bloggers or people who just like to eat out a lot.
When I had first heard about FD a year ago, they were still developing their new site and welcoming the feedback from bloggers. Revisiting their site now, I see that they’ve made it really easy for us to develop a profile as well as add our blog post to the site and link back to our FD profile.
And that new feature FlavorMatch is a fun way to see which FD reviewer best matches our taste. I asked the FoodDigger guys whether they considered making this a dating feature in light of the fact that it’s a great way to match up single foodies, but they just pshaw’d me. Still, I think it’s something worth considering. “Hey, you’re a Fried Food Digger who loves Japanese and Mexican food, too? Let’s get married!”
Other bloggers at the dinner:
Sarah of The Delicious Life
Holly of The Michelin Project
Liz of Food She Thought
Jackie of CityNitz
Danny of Kung Food Panda
H.C. of LA and OC Foodventures
Kevin of Kevin Eats
Christine of Folie a Choisauce
Evelina of Two Hungry Pandas
BondSt at Thompson Hotel
9360 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California 90212 (map)