At long last, Jonathan Gold dropped his review of Dialogue, Dave Beran’s tasting menu restaurant in Santa Monica. The Goldster notes that although Los Angeles “has lately become one of the best food cities in the world,” “until lately, there were few non-Asian restaurants that aspired to the highest level of international cooking, the rarefied realm of the World’s Top 50 list.” Beran, the former executive chef at Grant Achatz’s Next in Chicago, however, challenges the status quo with his 20-course tasting menu restaurant.
The meal structured somewhat after kaiseki reflects the year Beran spent doing his due diligence in LA before opening the 18-seat restaurant:
He spent a year in Los Angeles before he opened Dialogue, getting to know the culinary landscape, working his way through the farmers markets, putting up the array of pickles and fermentations that line one of the restaurant’s walls, including an exquisite syrup made from the wild roses that California Family Farms or the guy at Lily’s Eggs sell sometimes, which Beran used to marinate a cube of fresh dragon fruit; a rhubarb chip, aged for nine months, which he served impaled on a bristly metal sphere; and barrel-aged burnt onion juice, which turns into a dense, black liquid that could pass for an exotic take on Worcestershire sauce. [LAT]
The Goldster gives special attention to the pressed duck that harks back to “one of the most glamorous preparations of Escoffier:”
You get a little puddle of the sauce, a matchbox-size sliver of crisp-skinned breast and a chunk of braised fresh pineapple crowned with a crisped sage leaf. The duck’s leg and thigh have been made into a ragout, which you spoon out of a lidded bowl. You mix them together or don’t; experience them as the flavors of a glamorous al pastor taco or not; resist the temptation to lick the plate or decide that at $220 prix fixe you just don’t care. You are experiencing one of the grandest dishes of French cuisine lovingly prepared on the second level of a mall food court. And it is magnificent. [LAT]
All-in-all it is a pretty dazing review, as the restaurant certainly seems to elevate the city’s dining landscape as a whole while paying homage to its culinary traditions.