Date Night: Red Medicine

My brilliant husband came up with a brilliant idea.  Less than thrilled that my restaurant job has me working every Friday and Saturday night, he instituted a mid-week “date night” so the two of us can sit across the table, look at each other, and reconnect.  Plus it gives us the opportunity to dine at a hip new restaurant and wear our Sunday best, opportunities that are few and far between for this momma.  Our maiden date night voyage: the controversial Red Medicine in Beverly Hills.

First, a plug for the outfit** because what’s a good date night without a flirty outfit? Date night outfit
The accessories

Outfit in place, we dined at Red Medicine, the restaurant that made headlines when upon first opening the chef photographed a notoriously anonymous food critic without her permission then refused her service.  To top it off, they posted her picture online so other restaurants could do the same.  Pretty ballsy move for executive chef Jordan Kahn, whose pedigree includes French Laundry and Per Se, though I didn’t learn of the controversy until after dining there.

The concept purports to be a loose spin on Vietnamese cuisine.  From the menu we ordered the spring rolls, late season legumes, ocean trout, lamb, and Wagyu beef.  The spring rolls were delicious, but for $15 for one roll cut in half, I expected it to be a little more earth shattering.

What sets this restaurant apart from others is the artful plating technique, where root vegetables and exotic greens are deliberately placed with tweezers in a way that resembles a mini rain forest on top of the dish.  Nearly all of the dishes employ this technique in some capacity, so though clearly impressive, it becomes expected and thus overused as each successive dish arrives table-side.

The late season legumes made sliced radishes and peas look and taste more extravagant, as the stunningly colorful plate tricks the mouth into believing even ordinary and mostly raw vegetables are a prized delicacy.

The house cured ocean trout was another winner, accompanied by a cotton candy like styrofoam that complimented the smoky flavors of the trout.  I had never eaten lamb belly before, and the lamb dish was a vision in red (though it didn’t photograph well), and was tender and juicy, though a bit crowded by the plate’s other elements, which became lost in the melee.  The miss of the evening was the Wagyu, which of course was the most expensive item we ordered.  The small 2″x3″ brick shaped cut was under seasoned and hence it fell flat.

For dessert we ordered the coconut bavorois, presented in a low ball glass that made the layers inside look like an ant farm terrarium.  It arrived about 1 minute after we ordered it, a sure sign that the dessert was made and assembled completely in advance, but it was perfection.  As Mr. Kahn’s background lies in pastry, I expected the desserts to be stellar and this one did not disappoint with its creamy custard like coconut pudding layer and coffee/chicory flavored “dirt” crunchies.  Alas it didn’t photograph well.

Service was quick but our waiter was a little dry and showed no personality outside of his functional duties to take and bring orders.  The ambiance is hipster to say the least, but loud, very loud, so don’t expect to bring a date here for a romantic eatfest.  For a place that’s open until 2 a.m., it’d be interesting to see if the cacophony and energy continue throughout the night.

I can recommend Red Medicine for the overall unique experience, though I’m positive I won’t be braving La Cienega very often for return trips.

*The Outfit: Maeve silk top from anthropologie (I paid full price but it’s now on sale), vintage chevron BCBG tulip skirt, Calvin Klein pumps.
**The Accessories: Stuart Weitzman clutch, Amrita Singh earrings, Michael Kors rose gold watch, Murano glass ring that I bought in Venice ages ago

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