Studio City: Raphael
I was invited to Raphael last week. We were presented with 3 bites and cocktails at the bar.
Raphael’s Chef Adam Horton comes most recently from Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas. And head bartender Chris Parke has worked for Patina Restaurant and SBE Groups. Raphael has been open for a couple of years but recently went through a renovation.
The first cocktail was the Cilantro (Karma tequila, Cointreau, cilantro, agave and jalepeno). This was paired with Chef Adam’s Crispy Pork Belly (pork belly, housemade French sausage, capsicum, herbs and pickles on brioche). The bite was inspired Vietnamese sandwiches.
Head bartender Chris has concocted a refreshing drink using the fresh-grown herbs scattered around the restaurant. Raphael features this living wall of plants right outside that you may enjoy on the patio. This was my favorite cocktail of the three though I could have used a tiny bit more heat. Then again, one swipe of the jalepeno and your mouth is on fire. I also really enjoyed the Crispy Pork Belly. Incorporating herbs into food seems to be what Vietnamese food is all about so this was a great starter and introduction to Raphael’s living wall of herbs.
Next up was the Basil (Grey Goose, muddled sweet basil, cracked black pepper). Many people often ask me where did the name the Minty come from and the answer is I happen to like both basil and mint but basil isn’t a cute nickname. Hence, the Minty. Still, I love a good basil drink. I personally am not fond of vodka but found myself sucking this down like water. Even the pepper didn’t deter me. I wonder how this would be with rum. Minty, the budding mixologist.
Chef Adam sent out Grilled Cheese sandwiches to go with Basil. I liked this grilled cheese but wanted something else to go with it. Perhaps a pickle? It needed a bite to go with all that beautiful gooey aged cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses.
This Punch made with two types of rum; Myers and Barcadi as well as egg white, sugar cane and fresh lime was paired with the Som Tam, a green papaya salad. The Punch was a bit bitter for me. I would have liked to have seen a different dark rum, maybe something with more caramel-notes. Myers tends to be a bit harsh for me and conflicted with the delicate green papaya.
Chris was kind to replace my cocktail with the New Fashioned. Raphael also has three cocktails that are nods to classics. Chris explained they are more fresh ingredients driven rather than a spirits driven bar. I liked that they’re pickling cherries and adding that to the drinks. The New Fashioned (Maker’s Mark, muddled peach and cherry, Regan’s orange bitters, soda) was light and I liked it quite a bit with the salad.
A wonderfully light salad. I love green papaya salad and will order it every time I see it.
Ask about the special things they’re doing at the bar like these house-pickled cherries. Other bar bites include steak tartare, pork poutine, mussels, gnocchi, crispy artichokes and Chef Adam has a daily sandwich that changes daily. The bar bites menu is available after 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends.
Happy Hour is half off appetizers from the dinner menu and is available 5-7 p.m.
The other two classic cocktails are the Aviation (Tanqueray gin, Creme Yvette, Luxardo, lemon) and NYC (Bulleit rye, sweet lemon juice, egg whites, mint). I rather liked the NYC but I tend to like whiskey drinks.
Raphael has a comfortable bar and lounge in addition to the main dining room. I could well imagine sharing small plates and classic cocktails with friends in Studio City.
Studio City, CA 91604