Friday, May 13, 2011

Run, Don't Walk to Canele.

I should've run to Canele the moment I heard about this gem several months back, but like all L.A. based foodies, sometimes we aren't able to run fast enough to check out a "new to me" restaurant. I'm not quite sure how long Canele has been around, but it's tucked into the up-and-coming downtown part of Atwater Village. I would describe Canele as a Neo-American/French bistro - the space is small, intimate (hence they do not take reservations) and the kitchen is open - in plain view for all to see. The tables are sparsley decorated with a votive candle and a teeny tiny glass jar of fresh flowers. But as you're about to find out, the flavors are anything but small here. The menu even had a nice touch - the dishes were arranged under the headings: beginning, middle, and end.

I met my dad there for dinner and we couldn't have been happier with the low key but attentive service and the delectable dishes. To start, my dad ordered the jamon serrano plate - served on a cheese board. It featured serrano ham (sweet, nutty, melt-in-your mouth and your roll-your-eyes back kinda way), pitted dates, toasted bread, marinated almonds and garrotxa cheese. The garrotxa is a Spanish sheeps milk cheese - easily compared to a manchego, but I found it milder. This plate reminded me of how I'd like to eat that dish on a regular basis, in fact, it inspired me to create my own little plate this weekend. I picked the dandelion salad with capers, parsley, garlic, croutons and a sherry viniagrette. This salad is not for the faint hearted, its pungent, bitter and should you dine with a date, I don't recommend kissing after eating it. Nonetheless, I loved it for its bold and unapologetic flavors all around.

Dad had the pancetta pasta with parsley, parmesan, pistacho and of course, pancetta. Very flavorful and light for a pasta dish. I went with the bistro steak - bordelaise sauce (a red wine sauce), creamed spinach and pommes anna (which is essentially a thinly sliced potato pie). I was easily transported to my future in Paris later this year, where I hope to leisurely dine at a bistro and enjoy a properly cooked steak. The meal was comfort food without the heavy qualities associated with these dishes. One could easily tell how much TLC was put into each dish and it shined throughout the plate.

Last but not least, we split the profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce (which had more a consistency of pudding, thick and luscious). Of course, I forgot to document the profiteroles before we dived into them, but there's proof of it's existence! :)