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Friday, July 17, 2009

The New Double O at BondSt

In the Bond series of movies, Ian Fleming's portrayal of an MI-6 agent gaining double 0 status has excited movie goers for decades. James Bond is a ruthless killer with a weakness for women. BondSt's new man? Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski. Much like an MI-6 agent, Chef Redzikowski goes about his job with a focused precision. Unlike an MI-6 agent, he strives to be known.

Recently, I received an email from the Chef, asking us to come by and try his cuisine. Up until receiving that email, I knew little of BondSt, which is located in the Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills. I'd heard a chef came in and was turning things around, but that was really it.

Considering we had just finished a smashing success of an event with Ludo Lefebvre at Ludo Bites, I was ready to focus on our next event. My thought processes never brought me to BondSt, but with that email, I thought I'd give them a go and see for myself what was going on. As founders of an online food review site, we are the fortunate recipients of a good number of offers of meals. We tend to say "thanks, but no thanks" if the restaurant doesn't fit our criteria. You see, we try to look for some sort of cachet in the restaurants we choose for our events, and if I don't see it right away, I won't waste the restaurant's time just for a free meal.

After some back and forth with the Chef and my fellow founders, we decided on Wednesday. Chef Redzikowski decided to create a 13 course menu so that we could experience his cuisine and see what he'd done to turn things around.

At the last minute, we had a spot open up, so we invited Sook of http://www.yutjangsah.blogspot.com/ to join us. At 8:00 pm sharp, we arrived and spotted Sook sucking down a cocktail at the bar. We were then seated and handed menus. "Um...I think the chef is creating a tasting menu for us", I say. The lovely hostess then said that this was our menu for the evening. A bit confused, I opened up the menu to find our 13 course meal printed out, with our logo at the bottom. After a few moments of internal confusion and turmoil, I realized what was going on was was quite pleased. Our drink orders were taken, and Chef Redzikowski came out and introduced himself.

Before we get to the food, a little background on the Chef. He graduated first in class from the CIA. After completing his externship at Le Cirque 2000, he secured a job at Alain Ducasse. After a stint as Executive Sous Chef at Nobu Matsuhisa in Aspen, he was opening Sous Chef at Joel Rubuchon in Vegas. Still in Vegas, he left to open Yellowtail at the Bellagio before he decided to take on the challenge of revamping BondSt.

Now, to the food:

Tuna Tarts with micro shiso and white truffle oil on a crispy wonton. Beautiful slices of tuna atop a friend wonton round. The truffle oil was delicious, with the micro shiso adding to the earthiness.

Sashimi consisting of two items, king crab encased in sushi vinegar gel, and hamachi belly with a thin soy film strip. The crab was sweet and decadent, and the hamachi was rich and fatty.

Skeena River Salmon Nigiri with soy 'caviar', or mini soy spheres. The salmon nigiri was wrapped in a shiso leaf, and topped with the soy spheres. It was a departure from what I was used to eating, but quite nice. I'm not normally a fan of raw wild salmon, but this one was very good.

Santa Barbara Spot Prawn on a steamed corn flan with carrot marshmallow, sweet pea foam. One of the favorites of the night, the seared pieces of spot prawn brought all of the components in the dish together.

Jidori chicken sous vide, with baby root veggies and fingerling potato puree. Another favorite, the chicken was cooked perfectly, with a nice sweetness and slight gaminess.

Japanese Bouillabaisse with squid, lobster and uni rouille. The favorite of the night, we were instructed to mix the uni rouille into the hot lobster bouillabaisse. The rouille added additional richness and flavors of the ocean like only uni can. Simply delicious.

Snake River Farms Pork Belly, with artichoke foam and olive oil powder. We were instructed to mix the foam with the powder, which formed a very nice olive oil flavored sauce for the silky smooth pork belly.

Foie Gras x 2 which consisted of a foie gras strawberry cone, and foie gras lollipop. The foie gras mousse in the cone was marvelous, with hints of strawberry rounding out the finish. The lollipop, which was prepared en torchon, was served with cocoa, yellow pepper glaze and yogurt pudding. I love foie gras, and this did not dissapoint.

Australian Wagyu Rib Eye with cippolini onion puree, mini veggies, soy-garlic laze. The wagyu was prepared sous vide and was accompanied by a carrot "sphere" atop a bed of crispy house made bacon. The rib eye had a nice fattiness to it with the bacon adding a smoky complexity.

Vosne Romanee, a nod to the great pinot noirs of the Burgundy Region of France. This was a pinot noir and strawberry sphere with a spiced red wine glaze and chocolate orange galette. This was a nice segue to the desserts.

Caramel Popcorn with Kaffir lime. The flan of caramel, which had the essence of Kaffir lime, was accompanied by popped popcorn and topped with popcorn froth. The flavors were intriguing and complex.

Mochi, which was deep fried, along with candied rhubarb and coconut ice cream. If you read Sook's blog, she wants to change her name to Mochi. I see why. The mochi was crispy on the outside, and slightly chewy on the inside. Absolutely delicious.

Chocolate with liquid vanilla bean ice cream, atop a bed of caramel powder. We were instructed to break open the round "truffle", which led to the release of the liquid vanilla bean ice cream. Mixing the liquid with the caramel powder created this deeply complex sauce that I remember most from this meal.

At the end of the meal, I actually wasn't sure how much I liked it. The first three courses left something to be desired, but in the days since the event, I've realized it was because I didn't know what to expect. Once I got into the flow of Chef Redzikowski's philosophy, I really started enjoying what we were experiencing. Truth be told, I wasn't sure how I felt until I phoned Thi, a FoodDigger founder who was unable to make the event. I went over each dish with her and realized that I really loved most of the dishes.

Prior to this amazing dinner, which by the way was accompanied by wine pairings, I was leaning towards another restaurant for our next event. Now I'm not so sure. That, my friends, is something different for me. Once I get my mind on an idea or place, it takes mountains to change my mind. This mountain, in the form of the new double 0 at BondSt in Chef Brian Redzikowski, is making me rethink things.

After dinner and a tour of the kitchen, Chef took us upstairs to the rooftop. When the door opened, I saw a gorgeous bar with a clear night in the background, and beautiful people left and right. Chef led us to a little "room" that can accomodate 12...how fitting, since our events generally involve 12 people! It was the perfect setting.

Regardless of whether or not we have our next event at BondSt, I do recommend trying Chef Redzikowski's cuisine. He uses his classic French roots and mixes it with Asian inspired ingredients and modern technique driven cuisine. In theory, much like Ludo. In practice, something so different, but still amazing.


kevinEats said...

I read Sook's post on this, and I was thinking that this was an "official" FD event. I didn't know that you guys did a full run-through of everything before the real deal.

In any case, the food looked surprisingly venturesome.

yutjangsah said...

sucking down a cocktail!!! lmao.

will, this is impressively well written and i agree with your take on the meal. it was good while i was eating it esp. certain dishes, but a day later, i realize i had developed a jones for some of the things i had esp. yes, the mochi and the bouillabaisse - and w/ a fervor I didn't anticipate I would feel. weird. witchcraft maybe.

Gastronomer said...

I'm so pleased to read such a positive review of Bond Street. Chef Brian's resume is impressive! I am highly anticipating my meal at Bond Street at the end of the month. Thanks for the write up!

FoodDigger said...

Kevin: Yeah, we generally do a lot of work for these events, including the difficult task of tasting the food! It was definitely venturesome.

Sook: At least I didn't mention that it was your second drink...hahaha! Thanks for the kind comments. Like I've said in the past, I love food that makes me think. It doesn't always have to blow me away.

Cathy: I was impressed, as well, by Chef's resume. I hope you have a great experience when you go. Make sure to get the fried mochi...yum!

yutjangsah said...

well, actually what happened was that there was a bug in my drink - one of those tiny gnats just happened to drown in it and i asked for another one. but then when the bill came, after getting free drinks and a free marathon meal, i felt really chintzy pointing out the mistake so i mirandized myself and kept silent. i akchually have pretty low etoh tolerance there's no way i could have downed 2 cocktails in 10 min. : )

FoodDigger said...

Sook, I was just playin'. You should have said something! Glad you had fun, though.

yutjangsah said...

: )mochi had fun alright.

gourmetpigs said...

I'm checking out this place tomorrow too per the chef's invite. Looks fun and exciting, can't wait! Now I'm excited.