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We'll take that amuse straight up

September 12, 2007|Jenn Garbee

L.A. is a town crazy for cocktails. It's cocktails before dinner, cocktails after dinner -- and cocktails right in the middle of your amuse bouche.

A yuzu-sake-green apple cocktail at Bastide, which finally reopened its Melrose Place doors last week, arrives in a pretty aquavit glass. Executive chef Walter Manzke serves it with an appetizer of sliced Japanese scallops sprinkled with lime juice and dotted with yuzu koshou (yuzu and chile paste).

A shot glass filled with what looks like water is actually a clear Bloody Mary and comes alongside a raw oyster. A deconstructed lobster "taco" -- a piece of lobster with avocado and a tiny chip -- might come with a sip of "margarita" (lime sorbet with a splash of tequila).

"An amuse should be exciting and bright and fun," like -- what else? -- a cocktail, Manzke says. "This way you get a palate cleanser and also a taste of a classic pre-dinner cocktail, without all the alcohol."

But be warned, teetotalers and recoverees: There really is a little alcohol in that glass. Well, not in all of them. At Providence in Hollywood, a tiny beer mug holds not beer, but maybe a spiced apple consommé with lemon foam. The single-gulp glasses help "to really compact the flavor," executive chef Michael Cimarusti says.

At the Foundry, also in Hollywood, chef Eric Greenspan might send out a shot of Cavaillon melon soup with a brunoise (small-dice) of yellow and red watermelon and bluefin tuna, with a gingered mustard foam on top.

So how to drink it? "I recommend shooting for the flavor, but some people are more the sipper type," Greenspan says. "I always serve them with a tiny espresso spoon nestled beside the glass, so if someone wants to drink the liquid first, then spoon out the inside, hey, that's cool."

You might even be able to double-fist them. At Wilshire Center's Opus, executive chef Josef Centeno sometimes sends out "two shots at once, especially before dessert" for his house-made seasonal fruit sodas with tiny scoops of fruit sorbet.

Bartender -- er, chef -- make me another.

-- Jenn Garbee


Small bites

* Joan's on Third reopened Friday after a remodel and expansion and now serves breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. weekdays. New additions include a serve-yourself to-go station with salads, sandwiches and soups; a freezer case stocked with take-home pot pies and hors d'oeuvres; and an expanded cheese and charcuterie counter.

Joan's on Third, 8350 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 655-2285;

* Cooks Double Dutch has discontinued dinner service. It's now open for lunch, noon to 2:30 weekdays. The Sustainable Supper Club, formerly monthly, moves to weekends, with a schedule to be announced.

Cooks Double Dutch, 9806 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 280-0991;

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