Michel Richard's Citrus at Social
Certain Restaurateurs can be counted on to deliver, again and again. Names like Puck, Splichal and Drago open restaurant after restaurant with almost guaranteed success waiting for them. Now, add Michel Richard, who pioneered French/California cuisine at his Citrus, partnering with Jeffrey Chodorow at the most beautiful, reawakened Citrus at Social which occupies the old Hollywood Athletic Club space on Sunset.
It's absolutely gorgeous with the high, mosaic, painted ceiling, the beautiful hanging lights, and the design of both banquettes and tables glistening with crystal and silverware, amidst a spacious hall. The several mirrored columns have banquettes that seat parties of four in tandem and we headed there for our dinner. Soon after we were seated, we were presented with an amuse bouche, a tasty tid bit of lobster in sweet corn broth in a small glass – a piquant start to our evening.
The menu is not large, but everything we tried was exceptional with both Chef Michel and Chef Remi Lauvand holding forth in the kitchen. We did a sampling of all four "Favorite Bistro Classics": The Gougeres (cheese puffs) @ $10 melted in the mouth; the bacon onion tart @ $10 and the smoked salmon onion tart @$15 look like mini pizzas and tastes like gifts from the Gods; the chicken faux gras with country bread @ 14 was better than the real thing. All four could be shared by four people with no worries.
There were several "piece de resistance" dishes yet to follow: My mussel chowder @ $14 had five whole mussels in the most exquisite broth ever created and sent me into a tailspin. Fran's beet and tuna salad with pickled daikon @ $16 was blend of heaven on a plate. Amazing, truly amazing!
Among the ten entrees, it was suggested we try the lobster fennel ($44) and the monkfish in Asian duck jus ($34). A whole Maine lobster enfolded in a wrap, over fennel fava beans and tomatoes was a pleasure. Cooked to perfection, with a taste unequalled anywhere, this dish was remarkable. Fran reiterated my praise about her tender monkfish stating simply "Delicious!" Do order Remi's French fries for they, too, are exceptional. It's a huge portion for $8.
Along with the fine food was excellent service with each dish timed beautifully – never rushed, sent directly from range to table. Monsieur Richard's bread is also quite good; a sourdough baked a bit differently from others.
There are seven desserts offered but the fullness of our dinner reduced us to a cup of coffee.
There is no question that Citrus at Social will be my Number One choice of new restaurants in Los Angeles. The attention, care and presentation of each tempting dish makes this addition to the culinary world of L.A. most exciting and original. And when you get there, do tell 'em Joseph sent you for it will definitely mean an extra cheese puff.
Citrus at Social, 6525 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood CA 90028 Tel. 323-337-9797, Open every day but Sunday for dinner. Dinner for two approx. $100 w/o alcohol Large bar and social area, valet parking. For more information, visit www.citrusatsocial.com