Okay this post has been a long time coming, and I can’t believe just how long it has taken me. The place that everyone has been talking about since before it even opened, is Culina, the Italian restaurant being led by Chef Victor Casanova, in the Four Seasons, Los Angeles.
I’m not going to lie – the price point at Culina is a little out of my price range. But like a lot of things you get what you pay for. Vanessa and I went over there to have a little yummy dinner…okay a lot of yummy dinner.
First? Decor…the front walkway to the restaurant? All imported materials, costing somewhere near $90,000. The restaurant was supposed to be designed as a enotecca – wine bar – with the crudo bar in the middle. The glass bulbs that hang over the dining room? There are 3000 of them, hand-blown czechoslovakian glass, each individually hand strung. The wall out on the patio is both water and fire and planted with succulents. You walk to a beautifully set table, and bread service consists of a fresh housemade rosemary foccacia, served with Monini olive oil – which is specially made for Culina – and you can buy a bottle for $25.
We started off our meal with drinks…we ordered the housemade limoncello – made with everclear, lemon peel, and lemon juice – aged for 30 days. Sweet, lemony and delicious.
Then we ordered from the crudo bar…we had yellow tail, salmon and tuna. All fresh, and exactly right. We also had the kumamoto oysters which were delicious in and of themselves (have I mentioned my oyster fixation?) but also come with the delicious optional sauces: spicy limoncello mignonette, black olive citronette, and the spicy sundried tomato pesto. We finshed a half dozen…meaning I ate 4 and V ate 2….and then ordered more because I have an oyster “problem.” Hehe.
Then we had our entrees:
Ippoglosso – Halibut , leek fonduto, pea shoots, pea pesto, and proscuitto bread crumbs. It was awesome- fresh peas are amazing. And the problem is…peas are out of season and this is no longer on the menut that just tells you how long it took me to write this pinche post. So I’m just teasing you with this really amazing dish. Sorry!
Lamb Papardelle – braised lamb with San Marzano tomato sauce – which, in case you didn’t know, is a type of tomato grown in volcanic dirt – mint and parmagian. It doesn’t help that I really REALLY like lamb…have I mentioned that before?
At this point I ordered another drink…the Aprile – white wine, St. Germaine, Culina Limoncello, and soda water. I really like St. Germaine…I use it in a lot of things like, margaritas in place of like a Triple Sec, so I enoyed this.
Gnocci di Patate – housemade gnocci, lobster knuckles, pea tendrils, truffle butter and truffle shavings and truffle oil (and I LOVE truffle)…and as Vanessa says…love.
Lombatina Capricciosa – pounded bone in veal chop, parmagian and panko breaded topped with arugula, sweet 100 tomatoes, parmagian, and lemon vinagrette. I remember thinking this was AWESOME.
And of course we had to follow all the decadence with more decadence. I mean, duh…well actually I mean dessert!
Torte al gianduga(hazlenut) – flourless crust, chocolate hazelnut mousse, candied hazlenuts and blood orange granita. Good, but not my favorite.
Neopolitan cassata – has neopolitan flavors but isn’t presented in a traditional way – it has an airbrushed white chocolate coating and is served with a piece of biscotti. Simple but very nice.
And finally the dessert to take all desserts. This is the Lamborghini of desserts: the Affogato – vanilla bean gelato, with a giant tower of cotton candy over which you pour a shot of espresso making a sweet espresso-y deliciousness. It’s served with pignoli (pinenut) cookies.
I was lucky enough to be able to get a brief tour of the kitchen. The far side is the Culina hot line and the closer side is the line for the hotel (like for room service) and the lounge. It’s kind of huge and amazing.
The staff was so unbelieveably nice….although, I can’t comment too much on service from an objective view because everyone knows Vanessa and were probably extra friendly because of that.
I was also lucky enough to be able to go out for drinks not just with Vanessa and a couple of her co-workers, but also with Chef Casanova, and I have a picture to prove it, although I might not be allowed back into Culina if I post it…while not incriminating in anyway, he does look super goofy!
The crew hanging out at El Carmen:
The restaurant will be rolling out some new dishes – today I believe – including a bone-in ribeye grilled and served with a simple Sweet 100 salad on top, a panzanella salad for two – featuring a vinagrette made from fresh tomatoes, and a panacotta dessert which is promising to be a good contender for the affogato (which I don’t believe because the affogato is pura fiesta in my mouth).
They are open for lunch and dinner. Sunday dinner also offers Tutti Famila style pre-fixe dinner for $35 a person. If you get an opportunity you really should check out the restaurant. The quality of food and service is amazing. I know I’ll be back to check out the ribeye…
300 S Doheny Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90048