Mid-City: A.O.C.

A few weeks ago, I finally made it over to Suzanne Goin’s well-respected A.O.C. When I went to Chez Panisse, I learned Suzanne came out of that school of thought. I’m not as familiar with her food, having only gone to Lucques once and Hungry Cat a few times. Eventually I may make it to Tavern. But until then, why haven’t I gone to A.O.C. until recently baffles me since one of my very good friends has talked my ear off about “tapas” (usually she’ll make noises of “so good” and “mmmm” for a good few minutes after saying A.O.C. And she has probably suggested it every year for our annual holiday meal for at least the last 5 years. Yet, we never went. So when the opportunity came up, I decided it was about damn time I checked it out.

bacon wrapped dates

It’s pretty funny to me that in Spain, people can eat endless amounts of tapas and basically will order wine and food all night. Although tapas is not a new trend in L.A., the idea of it is still a bit startling. Why are the plates so small? Are you sure we’re supposed to order that much? Well, I’ve embraced the idea whole-heartedly and ordered up a storm.

chicken liver crostini with pancetta

Except the plates aren’t that small. And our eyes were bigger than our stomach. Plus, there were things Miss E wanted that I wouldn’t necessarily ordered and vice versa. Which means we got everything we wanted. Why compromise? Let’s order it all!

pork rillette with pickled onion

A.O.C. has some good deals on wine flights. I had the Dragonette flight which was 3 glasses of various Dragonette wines. Pictured above is the white wine flight. A.O.C. also does wine flights and bites on Mondays that seems like it’d be worth the $22.

beluga lentil salad

sweet corn avocado salad

After some bacon-wrapped dates, chicken liver crostini and pork rillette, we went for the lentils and sweet corn salads. Did we stop there? No, of course not.

clams with sherry and garlic toast from the wood burning oven

lamb chops

We wanted to try a little something from each section. I thought the clams from the wood burning oven would be good. It turned out to be a wise decision. The sherry gave the clams enough sweetness and I wondered if I could get a plain bowl of rice to sop up the sauce (so Asian of me, I know).

Then we tried the lamb chops and the tiny violet-hued artichokes that tasted faintly of a nectarine dressing nearly destroyed me because they were so good. Yes, the lamb was excellent but I just could not get enough of those artichokes.

softshell crab po'boy

I had this soft shell crab po’boy all to myself. When I first heard about soft shell crabs, it took me a while to get over the fact I’m eating essentially a well, soft-shell crab. But now I’ve come to learn to love the crunch and the crab is usually so juicy and tender. This po’boy was no exception. It was pretty close to my favorite soft shell crab experience (whole soft shell crab grilled cheese at Campanile).

long cooked cavalo nero

When I looked through the menu, I saw cavalo nero and wondered what it was. It was described as a green. I asked, “like kale?” Turns out it IS kale, black kale or sometimes known as black cabbage. I found this dish to be too oily for my taste.

arroz negro with squid

But my favorite dish of the night that left our lips and tongue discolored was the arroz negro. The squid was fantastic and Miss E practically begged me to try the saffron aioli (not a fan of saffron or aioli but what can you do?) with it but I maintain the rice didn’t need it. It did make a nice presentation though.

What a successful trip to A.O.C. Maybe now I will be the one that says, “AOC? So good. Mmm. Mmm.”

A.O.C. Wine Bar

8022 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 653-6359