Enjoying Scarpetta Classics at the Chefs Counter

Scarpetta Spaghetti

If you ever needed a reason to dine at Scarpetta inside the Montage Beverly Hills, I’ve got a few reasons.

After the unexpected exit of Executive Chef Alex Stratta and the re-entry of Freddy Vargas, a Scarpetta veteran, they’ve started offering a rather reasonably priced prix fixe menu featuring the restaurant’s classic dishes in a four-course dinner featuring none other than their famously simple yet delicious spaghetti (that is, if you choose it over the agnolotti, which sounds pretty decadent itself). It costs just $45 per person; the wine pairing option is additional.

Continue reading

Highlights of a Night at Morels

I’ve a confession. At first migration to the Mid-Town neighborhood in which I still reside, I had frequented The Grove – weekly. It was the anti-mall mall before I realized that that could mean Disney. That was for shopping, however – all my dining excursions always took place in the nearby, historic Farmer’s Market. So thanks to the PR company representing Morels, the French Bistro with the best people-watching in the entire mall (even with Christmas lights year-round to provide adequate lighting), I can now say I’ve dined at The Grove.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – but I can say there were pleasant surprises. The drinks were unfortunately not one of them, as they were mostly cocktails that were sweet enough to be what I might describe as “stereotypically girly” and not exactly complex. What I did enjoy was the cheese and charcuterie plate, which included Petite basque (sheep), Parrano (cow) & Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert (sheep), Prosciutto di Parma, garlic sausage, Rosette de Lyon salami and Dry mountain sausage. It was a nice combination of meats and cheeses, with the honey on the side being a nice touch as were the pickled radishes and French cornichon (get it – French bistro?).

Another highlight was the Caesar salad – which comes with a custom-made dressing. The server will season your dressing to taste right alongside your place setting. I thought my Caesar was delicious, however, even without modification. The fact that there was the option to add more sour cream, garlic or anchovy – for example – made for an interesting twist on what would normally be another mindless pre-entree salad.

Unfortunately, the main course of night – which was a beef tasting of sorts with Filet, New York and Rib Eye cuts – was rather unremarkable. The slices arrived with a steak sauce and were cooked with mostly salt; however, additional salt options were available on the table for the seasoning. Unfortunately, no exotic salts can rectify ordinary steak. Brussel sprouts, bacon bits, carrots, potatoes and a soft root vegetable were sauteed and brought out on a hot pan to eat with the steak and were probably the most interesting feature of the entree. Short of my waving the foodie flag of buzz word “bacon” too many times in this post, it reminded me of my favorite dish at The Village Idiot – who serves up rather large brussel sprouts with generous bacon cubes and does the dish quite well, though meant to stand on its own instead of sprucing up plain, salted steak slices.

Continue reading