DTLA: Introducing New Executive Chef Phillip Martin at Cafe Pinot
Cafe Pinot has appointed a new Executive Chef, Phillip Martin, to run the kitchen. It’s been a little bit since I was last there so I checked it out one early evening a couple of weeks ago.
I started out with a tequila cocktail, the Copper Pot.
Copper Pot – Casa Noble tequila, Grand Marnier, honey, watermelon, basil, cilantro, lime
Chef Martin most recently was at Patina, the flagship restaurant at Walt Disney Concert Hall. There he moved from salad station to sous chef to executive chef. Prior to Patina, he’s worked at Red Medicine, The Bazaar and Alma. He’s also worked with Ludo Lefebvre at his popup, Ludobites.
I find his path very interesting as it mirrors in some ways the dining scene in LA. While he was in culinary school, he interned at Drago, a spot I was at very frequently. It must be fun to be across the street now at Cafe Pinot.
We tried four appetizers including the hamachi crudo. We’re getting the last of summer produce in and the compressed watermelon plays well with the raw fish. My drink also matched this perfectly.
Then we had beef tartare which was playfully hidden tender little gem leaves. I liked the crunch of the jicama.
I loved the fennel salad. It was a great combination of super thinly sliced fennel, Humbolt fog cheese, hazelnut and citrus. With a sprinkle of black pepper! So simple and it inspired a few around the table to try to recreate it at home.
Chef Martin said he likes lamb sweetbreads over veal sweetbreads because they’re smaller and not as aggressive. It’s true, the flavor was more mild and I liked cumin rojo and yogurt sauces. The cucumber and mint also keeps the dish light.
We were starting our pasta course so I switched up to the Sorbet Beret, a refreshing cocktail.
Sorbet Beret – Absolut Elyx vodka, Lillet, hibiscus flower tea
A spicy, jazzy number was the squid ink fettucine with shrimp. Loved the garlic in this!
Vegetarians and meat eaters alike will like the tomato agnolotti. I learned about agrumato, a lemony-olive oil. This was lovely with the fresh ricotta.
But my favorite pasta was the cilantro chittara. It’s so light and lively tasting. Really wonderful approach to the Fall season with baby squash, corn and red bell pepper.
Chef Martin loves going to Farmers Markets. The fresh fish that day was salmon. I don’t usually eat cooked salmon but this was a good prep and I loved the confit fingerling potatoes! Also the nasturium and shimeji mushrooms were visually stunning.
Next came a beautiful duck breast with quinoa. Five spice broth was poured table side. And how could I forget the 64.5C egg. This made some sexy egg yolk porn video!
Cafe Pinot has always been California French and the steak au poivre is a perfect example of this fusion cusine. Perfectly medium rare slices over shishito peppers and heirloom pearl onions. I also enjoyed Chef Martin’s use of cilantro through out the meal. Cilantro is so important to both Asian and Latin cuisines which is just so Californian, and particularly LA.
Then for dessert, we got a surprise! Chef Martin mixed frozen foie gras for the table. This topped bruleed banana and hazelnuts.
It was a wonderful meal and I’m happy to go back to check out Paint Nite at Cafe Pinot or perhaps brunch! It’s also a good stop after browsing the Central Library.
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