LQ @ SK: Laurent Quenioux Nights To Shine at Starry Kitchen

Tai snapper, citruses, zucchini, tomatoes, Kohlrabi, smoked black sea salts

Since Bistro LQ had closed, I had been eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to experience Chef Laurent Quenioux’s food. Apparently, Nguyen and Thi of Starry Kitchen, Chef Quenioux and staff have been working a long time to make this guest appearance happen at their home digs.

Oxtail compote, pickled spring vegetables, Mustard Tapioca

In a couple weeks on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights and for most of the summer, you can experience 5 courses of LQ @ SK for $45. There will be a list of recommended wines that you can get from Domaine LA and enjoy them at your accord with zero corkage. If Laurent wasn’t reason enough to entice you downtown on an early-in-the-week night, the added reasonable price point and BYOB option should.

What I appreciated about all 5 courses was that though I knew Chef Quenioux to take chances, they reinforced that he is creative but not outlandish. No magic foams. Just well-integrated dishes that each express a simple statement.

To start things off, you’ll be treated to a surprise amuse. On the opening preview night, we were treated with Escamoles (ant eggs) smuggled straight from TJ that ran out during our run – complete with Sapporo chaser. Talk about taking “seasonal” to a whole new level – that is, to change by the day. It’s good indication you’re at an exciting place to eat.

Teriyaki rabbit albondigas, teriyaki foie gras, miso, green Garlic tempura

I loved the Oxtail compote, which was accompanied by a pickled cucumber slice and carrot stick, topped off with a dallop of mustard tapioca. It’s no LQ uni tapioca, which is a dish all on its own, but I really liked this sweet and sour flourish to the oxtail. While I tend to think “sated” whenever I think of oxtail, all the stringy, crunchy and ballsy (couldn’t help it) textures were the interpretive bells and whistles on the down-to-earth flavors of this first course. Wonderful!

The Tai snapper was perfectly cooked – its juiciness, tenderness yet mildness further highlighted by the citrus fruits and vegetables. A really simple dish yet pleasant and even refreshing, which served as a good reprieve for the rabbit, foie gras and sweetbread richness to follow.

If Panda Express gave me ill associations with teriyaki sauce or even flavorings, Chef Quenioux may have just reversed those very misgivings. So subtle – and not so sweet – was the “teriyaki” savory albondigas (rabbit meatball), I could enjoy the miso that was poured into the dish at service. The green garlic tempura was delightfully fluffy and crunchy, which was a great contrast to the seared foie gras in taste and texture. The foie gras itself? I don’t really need to talk about it. It was heavenly.

Chocolate chipotle mousse, lime serrano gel, Cinnamon soil

But those gloriously breaded and fried Veal sweetbreads. Morels and chanterelles really brought forth an earthy tone to the dish while the shishito peppers added a subtle spice while the pastiness of the yuzu kosho were a great way to add a kick while keeping up with the breaded texture of the sweetbreads. Were the sweetbreads really sweet, you ask? Almost. But it doesn’t matter – since the dish itself was fantastic.

And what topped the entire night off was no less than the most artful dish, doubling as a splendid dessert. Chocolate chipotle mousse and a churro sat with lime serrano gel (with basil seeds) and cinnamon soil, or crumbs from the churro. This was also the best wine pairing of the night (disclosure: no wines included during the pop-up) with the subtle sweetness of the NV Terres Dorees FRV100 cutting the spice in the mousse yet rounding out the cinnamon quite well.

Anyway. LQ @ SK. You should “pop-in.” This is Chef Quenioux at his most accessible, an opportunity not to be wasted. His dishes are playful, but they also have vision and thanks to the efficient staff, underwent a successful execution even on the very first preview night. Not bad for a test run. All I’m saying is, all systems go on this exciting and sure to be short-lived LQ run. Stay tuned for the official start date, which expects to be June 5th.

Now how about bringing back that cheese selection?

Update:  So it’s been announced that start date IS Sunday, June 5th and there will be two seatings at 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM. Prix fixe stands at $45 per person. Menu is subject to change whenever Chef Quenioux feels like it. Sorry, no substitutions. Parking is validated. Also, reservations are available online only, here, for dates: June 5-7,13-14, 19, 20. More dates will be added later. You are confirmed only when you receive an email stating so. Go, go, go!!

Starry Kitchen
350 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213.617.3474