Thursday, December 15, 2005

Patina: here comes the fromage


Having picked up some last minute tickets to the Harry Shearer/Judith Owen Holiday sing-a-long at Disney Hall last night (yes I'm a sucker for everything Christmas), we had empty stomachs and about an hour and a half to kill before the show. We had to keep it within walking distance since the car was already firmly ensconced in the bowels of the music center. Being big fans of bar dining as a way to sample but not splurge at pricey places, we thought we'd grab a snack at the bar of Patina, restauranteur Joachim Splichal's marquee place, located at the southeast corner of the Gehry-designed concert hall.

Well, we already had drinks in hand when the bartender informed us the only food service at the bar was caviar or cheese. Us: Okay, we'll get a cheese plate. Him: Let me get the fromager. Cue fromager to wheel in his big ol' cart of cheese. While I was thrilled by the diverse selection and piles of accoutrements (membrillo, apricots, lavender honey), it was rather awkward to sit in the restaurant's very tiny bar, right next to the hostess stand with other patrons coming in and out, and order our cheeses. Awkwardness wasn't alleviated by the annoying schmuck next to us, looking over our shoulder and pronouncing that all he needed was a block of Velveeta. However, the fromager was unfazed and managed to quickly put J. and I at ease.

We sampled three cheeses: Beaufort, a hard mountain cheese from France; Le Gariotin, a French goat cheese, this one soft and from the Perigord region; and finally a satisfyingly stinky Spanish Cabrales, which paired beautifully with the lavender honey. (The fromager gave us a small brochure with a listing of the cheese we got and a few notes--that's how I "remembered" the list). While not what we had in mind when we first sat down, the cheese service was a delightful way to begin our evening and experience the luxury of a chichi restaurant without committing to a whole meal.

Patina
141 S. Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA
213.972.3331

8 comments:

Syd said...

Erin, that is so cool. I'm so glad you wrote about it. I don't recall ever being offered a cheese service, nor will I ever in MS, but I'll keep an eye peeled when we travel.

Now, as far as eating at the bar, I love to do that. (Especially at the fru-fru places) I've never been clever enough to realize what a strategic tool that is.

LisaSD said...

I've never been anywhere with a fromager before! What a great job! Can you imagine?!

Jessica said...

We've developed a bit of a Cabrales problem in our household. I'll even take it after dinner anytime paired with a rich port; more interesting and exciting than many more conventional tempting desserts.

Foodie Universe said...

mmm, port...
I just walked by this place the other day as I was leaving LACMA and I was curious about it. The menu seemed heavy on the meat entrees, which isn't really my thing, so it didn't pique my interest too much. It had never occurred to me to try to eat at the bar at a nice restaurant. What are some places you've done this at?

Foodie Universe said...

I meant MOCA, not LACMA...

Erin S. said...

foodieuniverse--I like to eat at the bar at Lucques, after 10 pm (I think--check the website) they have a cheaper bar menu with a great burger and grilled cheese. Also, I like the Hungry Cat bar--the menu is the same as the restaurant, but I feel comfortable ordering 1-2 things to snack on and not a full meal. The bar area at Jar is nice, as is the lounge at Beachwood in Venice. AOC of course is great at either one of its two bars--its menu items are perfect bar food.

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