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THE REVIEW

At home in his own kitchen

Mark Gold's Sunday dinner is a great value at $35, but his love of cooking comes across all week long.

November 18, 2009|S. IRENE VIRBILA | RESTAURANT CRITIC

At Leatherby's Cafe Rouge, Gold indulged his interest in Japanese cuisine, and here he's doing a stunning Japanese-inspired first course of a gentle dashi broth with a poached egg, a bundle of spinach and a piece of delectable fried chicken. A melt-in-your-mouth foie gras terrine is topped with diced pineapple guava. The exotic fruit adds a touch of sweet as a foil to the delicacy of the foie gras without being too sweet.

Main courses pull their own weight. Young chicken is cut up and rearranged to look like a landscape on a plate, here a mountain, there a hill, with halved turnips and carrots laying down the color. Each piece of chicken is cooked perfectly.

Scallops, along with short ribs and pork belly, have become a cliche on practically every menu. But Gold's Hokkaido scallops from the Japanese island are something else again, less sweet and tasting more of the sea than the regular variety. Contrasted with fiery Spanish chorizo, earthy Brussels sprouts and Bomba rice from Spain, this is a dish to make you fall in love with scallops again. Big Eye tuna is delicious too, served in discrete hunks with beautiful Nantes carrots, a swirl of carrot juice and a little whipped tofu.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, November 19, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Restaurant review: A review of Eva restaurant in Wednesday's Food section identified the pastry chef as Tess Parker. Her name is Tess Panzer.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, November 25, 2009 Home Edition Food Part E Page 2 Features Desk 0 inches; 21 words Type of Material: Correction
Restaurant review: A Nov. 18 review of Eva restaurant identified the pastry chef as Tess Parker. Her name is Tess Panzer.

The occasional dish, such as the dull poached beef or gummy pumpkin ravioli, misses the mark. The first time I had his clams with udon noodles, I loved it. But on second acquaintance, maybe because the noodles had been cooked longer, it didn't work for me. Everything was too soft and somehow the flavors seemed too close up, missing the play of textures in a traditional spaghetti alle vongole. But most everything else is worth ordering.

While Sunday is an extraordinary bargain, the regular menu is close to a steal, considering the quality of the cooking and the raw materials. Most small neighborhood restaurants at this price level (only two of the main courses are over $20) zero in on simple rustic cooking. But Gold is too seasoned and too skilled a chef to ratchet himself down that much.

Most of all, though, he communicates his love of cooking to his guests. Affable and welcoming, he pops in and out of the kitchen, and roams around the dining room as if he can't quite believe he's here in his own little restaurant. He's so used to pressure and turning out food for big restaurants, that Eva must seem like play for him.

Let's hope he likes playing, because I'm hoping this restaurant will be around for a good long while. Oh, and he does lunch too.

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irene.virbila@latimes.com

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Eva Restaurant ** 1/2

LOCATION

7458 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 634-0700; www.evarestaurantla.com.

PRICE

Dinner appetizers, $10 to $17; main courses, $16 to $24; cheese selection, $14; sides and desserts, $7. Corkage fee, $12. Sunday dinner, $35 per person, including wine.

DETAILS

Open for lunch Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner Tuesday to Thursday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Prix fixe family-style Sunday dinner is 3 to 9 p.m. Wine and beer. Valet parking, $3.50.

Rating is based on food, service and ambience, with price taken into account in relation to quality. ****: Outstanding on every level. ***: Excellent. **: Very good. *: Good. No star: Poor to satisfactory.

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