Cafe Pinot: Another Splichal Connection
Downtown LA, CA
Joachim Splichal's restaurants are all proven successes and his Cafe Pinot, across the street from the Los Angeles Public Library on Fifth Street, is no exception. Surrounded by oversize picture windows, very comfortable, with indoor-outdoor seating in its most beautiful setting, Cafe Pinot's physical splendor is surpassed by the fine dishes prepared by the young, effective, Executive Chef, David Feau and its bright, on-target General Manager, Adam Rosenbaum. Luncheon is served Monday through Friday and dinners, every day. Prices tend to the high-medium at lunch, with a tender leap at dinner. But, Feau's food is fresh, fancy, and each dish is prepared with feeling.
Feinstein and Splichal have a long association. Cafe Pinot was to be his last Los Angeles establishment that I visited, having written reviews of all the other. My constant surprise has been the superior quality and ingenuity put forth in each of his places; happily, Cafe Pinot was to be no different from the others.
Kevin arrived quickly, dispensing water and a happy countenance as he reported the "Specials" of the day. The menu is one page, listing a few "Daily Specials", eleven "Appetizers" and twelve "Entrees": a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, salads, the inevitable Ahi tuna, seafood, fish, fowl and meat. All the accompaniments to the entrees help motivate the salivary glands instantly.
We began dinner sharing an order of red and golden organic beets accompanied with tender grapefruit segments, tiny balls of goat cheese, toasted pistachios, all on spicy cress salad. It's one of the less costly appetizers at $11.75 but it's worth it weight in beets. Along with our salad, we ordered the Peekey Toe Crabcake, topped with crisp celery; its accompanying Maytag blue cheese and chili sauce dressings added just the right spice to this crispy outer, soft, meaty interior cake. I called it "one of the best" I have ever tasted and, at $l4.95, a tad expensive but very memorable.
I cannot ever pass on French onion soup gratinee when it's on a menu. Here, Chef Feau does it with a melted Swiss-cheese cracker sitting above the soup. You bite the cracker and spoon the soup – the former a taste treat from the Gods, the latter, too heavily salted to bring the utmost comfort to the palate. This dish runs $9.50 with a word of caution if sodium content is not in your best interest.
Dinner was a difficult choice, the menu's offering so lusciously tempting. Fran decided on the Veal Osso Bucco in a roasted tomato garlic sauce with an ample supply of ginger potato gnocchi and a plethora of Spring vegetables. The two bones were quite meaty and the marrow simply delicious. Along with the Chef's risotto, the rotisserie chicken dishes are the least expensive at $20.95, $21.50 and $26.50.
I settled on the cast-iron roasted Colorado Lamb, prepared with fresh peas, beans, bibb lettuce, garlic beignet, baby carrots – all simmering in a garlic lamb sauce. An amalgam of freshness to enhance anyone's appetite. At $32.95, this is one of the most expensive entrees on the menu, only to be topped by the Filet or Maine Lobster. Take note this dish is also memorable and for such food, the few extra dollars makes it worth while.
There are eight desserts on the menu and although we ordered the Cookie plate and the "Peche Melba", neither one hit my "sweet" spot. The Pineapple Carpaccio with blueberry and pistachio gelato may have hit that spot better. We'll find out at the next visit.
Yes, there will be another visit for the range of Chef Feau's talents reach out in many different directions. I am quite partial to his innovative sauces and the variety of exquisite European gourmet cuisine in his arsenal. For whatever reason, he sent out an Amuse of his squash and foie gras to the table: both of which were beyond excellent.
When you go, please remember the drill and tell 'em Joseph sent you. Chef Feau likes me!
Cafe Pinot, 700 W. Fifth Street, Los Angeles CA 90071, Tel. 213-239-6500, Valet Parking Available. Dinner for two: Approximately $100 w/o alcohol. www.patinagroup.com/cafePinot/