Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Dining Room at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena

Who hasn't watched Top Chef? For any avid cable television watcher, the name Voltaggio has become synonymous with Bravo TV's hit reality show, Top Chef. Chef Michael Voltaggio first created national buzz  when he was chef de cuisine at The Bazaar by Jose Andres and that buzz grew into a whirlwind of much-deserved fame. Having experienced Chef Voltaggio's amazing food and creative vision at the Bazaar, I followed him (and his brother, Bryan) religiously throughout Top Chef. And, naturally, once I heard of his move to the Dining Room at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, I knew I had to go... I just needed a special occasion. So, what better timing than my birthday? My best friend treated me out to a wonderful meal at the Dining Room for my birthday and I couldn't have asked for a better present!

The hotel itself is breathtakingly beautiful and all members of the staff, from valet to the bussers at the Dining Room, were so friendly and professional. It is no wonder that the Dining Room was awarded with having the best service in 2010 by

2007 Chateau La Rouviere, Bandol, Provence, France

Since it was going to be a long night of drinking for both of us, we opted to start and end with one glass of rose. I'm so glad I didn't drink any more, because there would have been no way I could have finished all the dishes. The rose was floral on the nose, but had a nice dry finish. I personally loved this rose and could have gladly finished a whole bottle by myself.

amuse bouche: caviar gougeres, chicken liver pate, port wine, toast ice cream

I did it again! I got so excited that I forgot to take a picture of the amuse bouche. I know... I know... that is so unlike me... I didn't even realize I didn't take a picture until I was almost done. Anyway, the caviar gougeres was fantastic - the saltiness of the caviar and the cheesiness of the gougeres worked so well together. The pate was also salty, but perfectly seasoned and provided a nice contrast in flavor to the port wine, which is at first bitter then sweet.

vermont salted butter, goat cheese buter, unsalted butter

bacon roll & sourdough bread

I devoured these two pieces of bread as soon as they came out. I probably should have paced myself, but I couldn't help it! They were both delicious, but their flavor definitely changed when paired with each of the different butters. I personally liked my bacon roll with the unsalted butter and the sourdough bread with the goat cheese butter. My friend didn't like the goat cheese butter at all, but I'm a cheese fanatic so there was no surprise there.

veal sweetbreads, green olive, lemon, romaine lettuce

I, personally, am a lover of offal meats: liver, intestines, heart, you name it. So, when I saw veal sweetbreads on the menu, I had to order it. The sweetbreads were velvety in texure and to contrary to what a few of my friends think, it is mild in flavor and quite delicious. The acidity of the lemon broke up the fattiness of the sweetbreads, while the romaine lettuce provided a nice crunch that balanced out the smooth texture of the sweetbreads.

truffle brioche

The truffle brioche was amazing and so addicting. This was my favorite bread of the night! The small hints of truffle presented a wonderful earthiness that was only heightened by the goat's milk butter.
 milk-fed veal, broccoli, fiscolini cheddar tagliatelle

The veal, for me, was a bit on the salty side and the cheese enhanced that saltiness. The fried broccoli not only gave texture to the dish, but it also acted as a mediator for the veal and cheese. My dining companion said the veal was like "pastrami" in flavor.

foie gras fritto, celery, medjool date, mustard sabayon

Foie gras... foie gras, my love... People usually have a preference when it comes to the hot or cold preparation of foie gras, but I don't. I love them both, my preference differs depending on my mood. My mood, this particular night, was set on having an amazing foie gras dish prepared either way. And Chef Michael Voltaggio's foie gras dish did not disappoint. The sweetness of the dates and the bitterness of the celery provided a great balance for the foie gras. The celery was a bit overpowering for me, so I kept going back to the mild spices of the mustard to moderate the fattiness of the foie gras.
wagyu short rib, smoked potato "tots," nantes carrots, white ketchup

I am about to make a very bold statement: this piece of meat was the best piece of meat I have ever had! There.. I said it. Granted I have never dined at CUT, but I've had my fair share of good meats (enter lewd joke here). The short rib was oozing with amazing, fatty flavor and it literally just melts in your mouth. The carrots added a nice crunch while the tater tots gave it a nice smokey flavor. My favorite part of the dish, besides the meat, was the tomato seeds! They were so fabulous and added the perfect amount of tarty sweetness. I wish there were more of these tomato seeds as I found myself keep going back for more.

peanut butter and jelly

Our pre-dessert was a take on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but in ice cream form. Think dippin dots but with peanut butter and jelly flavors! I thought it was a nice way to cleanse our palates and also prepare us for the dessert course.
fool's gold, chocolate sorbet, salty hazelnut praline, cocoa tuille

The chocolate ganache was rich and decadent and I really enjoyed the saltiness from the hazlenut praline. If you are a chocolate lover, I highly recommend this dessert. I wish there was more sorbet, but I'm biased because I absolutely love ice cream and sorbets (seriously, what girl doesn't?)!

lavendar flower macaroon, creme fraiche panna cotta, vanilla-passion sorbet, floral cotton candy

I personally preferred this dessert over the fool's gold because it felt lighter and easier to eat. I was so full by this point that I was having a hard time finishing these desserts. The creaminess of the panna cotta paired nicely with the tartness of the sorbet. But, it was the floral cotton candy that really stole the show for me. I thought all the elements in the fused really well together with a clear and distinct vision of the flavor profile.

In a way, my meal was bittersweet - I was ecstatic that my long awaited meal met my high expectations, but on the other hand I was sad because that great meal was over. Everyone made that night so wonderful - from the attentive staff to the amazing food, and I can't forget the best company ever! I left with a happy heart and a very full stomach, which by the way, led me to consume a lot more cocktails later on that evening. I can't be a cheap date on my birthday now, can I?

The Dining Room (at the Langham) on Urbanspoon

The Dining Room at the Langham in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

The Dining Room
The Langham Huntington Hotel
1401 S Oak Knoll Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 568-3900


lina said...

Happy Birthday my forever mustard :) love, ketchup :)

Gastronomer said...

Happy belated birthday, Helen! I went to The Dining Room for my birthday this year too ;-) Your menu looks totally different from the one I had! Volt knows Foie.

Tsz said...

Great seeing you on Weds! I'm already craving LudoBites already...

sarah (Catch A Cub In Its Den) said...

put me down also for "best bite of meat i've ever had was at the dining room" !

and i agree, service was impeccable. didn't know they were honored for it by OpenTable, so thanks for sharing that little tidbit.

Kung Food Panda said...

I have a feeling I'll hit up Voltaggio on his solo venture when he reappears after the Langham!

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