This week Karen Palmer penned her third full review for LA Weekly, this time turning her attention towards tasting menu restaurant Dialogue. The new establishment by former Alinea and Next chef David Beran is located in Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, but the 18-seat, $200 set menu (before beverage pairings) establishment is nothing like its touristy trap neighbors.
The temporary Weekly critic describes Beran as being “equal parts earnest, lighthearted and obsessively thoughtful.” These characteristics come out in full force in his cooking:
A course called "Everything Is Burnt" is just that, from the soft, blackened chunk of onion terrine to the jammy-sweet syrup Beran made by setting ablaze 100 pounds of onions, blending the liquid with sudachi, and aging it in oak barrels for a year. The plate's piece of hanger steak — chosen intentionally over a more expensive cut for its relative chewiness and its association with backyard barbecues — is the color of coal thanks to a burnt marinade. [LAW]
Palmer is clearly very impressed with the “cerebral” chef:
Beran's talent, though, lies in creating something new with those touchpoints. And I've personally never seen a chef who takes the childlike delight of burning things and applies it to fine dining. He's obviously razor-sharp with technique, and I found it impossible not to smile when I was handed a plate of purposely burnt food — albeit beautiful and perfect in its presentation — on a plate that itself was burnt by the potter. [LAW]
Unlike many tasting menu restaurants, which she describes as often being “oppressive for the steep price tag,” Dialogue “was worth the trust and the investment” thanks to a few lighthearted dishes like a black ceramic rabbit holding a sugar-dusted carrot. Palmer explains, “I couldn't help but smile when I noticed my rabbit had a dusting on its nose, which might suggest he was having a better time than anyone.”
The review concludes, “while this is clearly a Serious Restaurant (Beran has been making syrups and vinegars for the place for over half a year now [...]), Dialogue isn't above sending out a bunny who's done a sugar bump.” Dialogue receives four glowing stars.