A reservation at the tasting menu-only Maude will present you with 9 courses, with the first course actually being a series of precious but oh-so-delicious bites. Expect to be here from 3 – 3.5 hours. Naturally, you’ll have a conversation with the server about your allergies and preferences, to tailor your meal to you. Here are my foremost thoughts on my experience:
There were a couple weeks of preview dinners before my visit last night, but my visit landed on the second day of official service. Yet, I was pretty much blown away by the course progression, the pacing and yes, each individual course itself. Each month shall center around one ingredient, which is citrus for February. Each plate seemed to effortlessly dance around it, even finessing it with different textures and techniques. Not that I’m constantly in the habit of being the first in the door, but I haven’t experienced this flawless a service model with really knowledgeable and helpful servers this early – and no lulls in coursing! – since the preview days of Trois Mec. In March, Maude will move on to artichoke.
The interior is so pristine, so homely yet sophisticated, elegant. White tiled and brick walls with dark wood; suspended, upside-down roses on one wall and calla lilies peering over a distressed country hutch alongside pieces of the mismatched china upon which your food is also served. An array of beautiful silver on display, candles on the steps of a rolling ladder. Dried, pressed foliage as hanging wall art. And touches of turquoise to tie everything together – just like the ingredient featured in the tasting menu. And of course, an open kitchen at the far end with enough energy to light up the dining area…in addition to the cool, multi-armed overhead light fixtures with incandescent bulbs. I loved the overall feel of this dining room.
If you are drinking at all, you might as well get the wine pairing. I ordered a glass of Nigori sake and another glass of a really fantastic Cab Franc, and together, they amounted to pretty much what the full wine pairing would have cost ($55). Wines (and sake) by the glass are available if they were being paired. The list is comprised of bottles.
The china may be mismatched with the other dishes at your table, but, to my delight, is matched with those served to you during a couple of other courses in the meal. It’s all in the details.
Loved the build-up of the meal. Standout courses of the night: Carrot soup with smoked parsnip, orange, Serrano ham – a savory teacup-full that made me close my eyes. Lobster crudo with crunch, thanks to Crimson turnip, radish and a brioche crisp. A rich duck and smoked goose fat raviolo with pickled Swiss chard and a grating of duck egg yolk! Chicken terrine with pain perdu and a really fierce, awesome dijon mustard ice cream. The main event was a luscious slice of Snake River Farm’s Rib Eye and beef cheek over a square of rosti, with tiny broccoli florets.
The menu at the end as well as a treat to take home for breakfast the next morning was a nice, conclusive touch. It’s evocative of the meal you just enjoyed, and I remember it well as I enjoy slices of this wonderful loaf topped with lemon curd.
It’s a curious location, one heavy with Beverly Hills daytime office and lunch traffic. But seeing as how its format is “tasting menu only” with a reservation here likely to be LA’s next hot dining ticket, Maude would be, I imagine, even less reliant on foot traffic than other restaurants and much more a destination. As for parking, the first two hours are free in the public Beverly Hills lot just 15 feet away from the restaurant ($3 per half hour thereafter).
I don’t watch much food programming on TV (when you’re out on the town, eating much of the week, the last thing you want to do is also watch shows about food). So, I couldn’t tell you what Curtis’ “chef personality” is like in the least. But for all the easy accusations to make, methinks a chef can’t really “sell out” by opening a restaurant, serving each customer 9 courses and charge only $75 per cover. To me, it means that he really enjoys cooking and, for the full experience that a dinner here affords, wants a night at Maude to be accessible – with a new experience awaiting you every time you revisit.
I love Los Angeles.
Bravo, Curtis! See you next month.