Jonathan Gold travels south to Costa Mesa's Taco Maria, a Modern Mexican fine dining restaurant that really doesn't serve that much in the way of tacos at dinner. Helmed by Carlos Salgado, who trained at SF's Coi and Commis before landing at the OC Mix Mart, the $52 has been earning accolades since the beginning. Says Gold:
Salgado calls what he does "Chicano cuisine," which probably calls to mind a series of pozoles and reconstructed enchiladas, but what you notice when you pull a stool up to the dining counter is that the line of chefs is arranging flower petals with tweezers instead of flipping meat with tongs, that the bubbling sous-vide apparatus is holding eggs at a precise 65 degrees Celsius and that the guy tending the wood-burning grill in the corner spends a lot more time adjusting his logs than he does actually tossing meat on the fire.
Salgado's cooking, largely vegetarian, may feature Mexican flavors, but the spirit is distinctly market-oriented modernist....You will almost always find crocks of his chorizo, made with spiced shiitake mushrooms instead of meat, topped with a single crunchy new potato, one of those soft-poached eggs and a drizzle of tart tomatillo sauce. [LAT]
Meanwhile, Besha Rodell of LA Weekly doles out four out of five stars to Curtis Stone's Maude:
The truth is that Maude's seasonal menus have been some of the most subtly thrilling meals I've had in Los Angeles. As a young chef, Stone sought out the tutelage of legendary chef Marco Pierre White in the U.K. and became his protégé. It's conceivable that time, fame and changing trends could wear away at even that pedigree, but what Stone is delivering tastes very much like the work of a chef at the top of his game.[LAW]
Brad A. Johnson of the Los Angeles Register files some notes on Matthew Kenney's M.A.K.E.:
Kenney's food is a revelation. He makes the most exquisite dumplings I've ever seen, filled with minced kimchi and decorated with ginger foam....And the black pepper kelp noodles … wow. The kelp looks like cellophane. The noodles are softened in olive oil and tossed with copious black pepper and little tidbits of dehydrated olives and swirly pea tendrils. The flavors are bold and powerful — and absolutely satisfying. [LA Register]
The Elsewhere: Darin Dines gets spiced up at Night+Market Song, Eating LA tries Wexler's Deli, Gourmet Pigs likes the tartines at Esterel, and KevinEats goes to Fifty Seven.
· All Week in Reviews Coverage [~ELA~]