Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Pig Roast and a Party Dress
What better way to kick-off the 4th of July weekend than a Friday night pig roast? But of course, because this is Los Angeles, its a gussied up pig roast at a chi-chi-la-la restaurant--the kind you can wear your fab new party dress, if you're inclined to do so.
Norman's, the eponymous West Hollywood "New World Cuisine" restaurant of James Beard award-winning chef Norman Van Aken, roasts a whole pig every Friday night, and serves it up with a side of paella, mashed sweet potatos and coleslaw for a mere $19. According to the waiter, they inject it with a brine well before roasting. Whatever they do to it, it's magic because it was the most tender, succulent, flavorful pork I've ever eaten. You could practically cut it with a fork. And don't even get me started on the crispy pig skins--pork rinds, cracklins, chicharrones, whatever the name, it was a little bit of heaven.
While the pig was a great deal, the prices on the rest of the menu reflect this spot's high-end nature. Not to say our prepared-tableside ceviche, chocolate-strawberry-vanilla-orange dessert, glass of champagne, glass of shiraz and glass of dessert wine weren't all fabulous--they were--but it makes for an expensive meal, so be forewarned (or come equipped with more resolve than we did to keep it cheap!).
A final note: overall, the service was very attentive. When I called a 1/2 hour before our 7 pm reservation to see if we could switch to 7:30, the hostess replied, "no problem!" We were seated on the patio, and didn't feel like we'd been forgotten as can sometimes happen. New napkins were brought when we went to the restroom, and the tableside ceviche presentation was pleasant, not overwrought. However, our waiter was strangely unknowledgable about some things and a bit pushy. For example, when asked about the menu's foreign-to-us apertifs, his response was, "Well, that one tastes a bit strong, while the other is more mild." Huh? Also, well after we'd finished our dessert, and after having asked twice about coffee, he came around not with our check, but just to triple-check that we didn't want coffee? cappuchino? are you sure? YES WE'RE SURE.
These minor blips aside, I can't recommend the pig roast enough--I'm not afraid to state definitively that it will be some of the best pork, if not the best, you've had in your life. Plus, you get to dress up and look fab while you eat it--who can argue with that?
8570 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
closed Sunday and Monday
note: They have a great online reservation system, and valet parking at $7 is cheaper than self parking in the same building at $10.
PS--Also, be sure to spend some time peering in the glass-walled kitchen; it's quite fun to watch the chefs at work--though I don't know if I'd like that kind of scrutiny!
Erin's Kitchen Restaurant Index: Los Angeles: West-ish