Without the late Jonathan Gold of the LA Times, no legitimate critic at LA Weekly, and no star-giving reviewer at LA Magazine, there’s been a real dearth of reviews coming out of Los Angeles lately. Soon enough, the LA Times will hire at least two restaurant critics, according to their latest overhaul of the Food Section.
But for now, Food Network host Simon Majumdar has been quietly filing starred reviews for Time Out. His latest review takes him to Dialogue, where the UK-born critic doles out a hefty five stars to celebrate Dave Beran’s tasting menu in Santa Monica.
Majumdar once had a prolific travel and restaurant blog and has published multiple books. Seasoned from London’s bustling restaurant scene but more than knowledgeable about LA restaurant (he’s long been a resident), Majumdar’s writing has a no-nonsense quality that strikes right at the heart of the food. He starts out by planting a phrase that’ll pay off toward the end of the review:
There is a saying in my home county of Yorkshire, England: “What a bloody palava.”
It expresses extreme irritation at the ridiculousness of a situation, and was a phrase playing on constant loop through my head as we made our way to two counter seats for one of L.A.’s most highly hyped tasting menus.
Then he dives right into the courses, which exhibit a level of intricacy that isn’t very common in LA:
Achingly fresh spot prawn arrived in two dishes: first, the flesh combined with long beans and a chocolate-mint dressing, and second, the fried legs sticking upright in a foam laced with the slightly astringent yarrow herb. Possibly the best course of the night was a perilla leaf “lettuce wrap” stuffed with fermented cauliflower and pine nuts, then dusted with an unlikely but winning combination of Earl Grey and rose.
After meandering through twenty courses at Dialogue, Majumdar ends in typical British fashion, with a strong metaphor and a few “bloodys” mixed in:
All three showed there was someone in that tiny kitchen who really knows how to make one hell of a dessert, but has little chance to shine at the end of such a varied culinary ride. It is a little like pouring vintage champagne down the throat of someone who has been knocked out by Mike Tyson.
However, if I am going to be knocked out by anyone, I would be happy for it to be Dave Beran. Arranging to eat at Dialogue may well be a bloody palava, but, eating there is, quite frankly, bloody brilliant.
Five stars (out of five) for Dave Beran’s tiny tasting menu destination, which also recently garnered a Best New Restaurant nod from Eater critic Bill Addison.