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Chris Burden’s 202 cast iron antique street lamps, called “Urban Lights,” once lit the streets of Los Angeles. Now they are a solar powered outdoor exhibit and a big draw at LACMA.
As free jazz Friday wrapped up, we followed a few couples into Patina Restaurant Groups’ latest eatery – Ray and Stark’s Bar, for drinks and dinner.
Located at the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation center, it’s named after the former LACMA trustee and legendary producer Ray Stark. The sleek black, white and red design, created by architect Renzo Piano, exudes a feeling of sitting in a sophisticated piazza.
While relaxing next to the window in comfy red fabric chairs at a white table, we noticed there were no napkins or silverware at our place settings. Insteaad, there are side drawers built into the table for guests to retrieve their white linen napkins and cutlery.
Our server Mark recommended that we sample many of chef Kris Morningstar’s (District, AOC, Patina) delectables by ordering the six or ten-course chef’s menu. Guests may request a favorite dish as one of the courses; however Morningstar likes to surprise guests with his favorite dishes of the day. The chef’s menu is ordered for the table, not per guest. We ordered the six-course with wine pairings and the $1 bottomless filtered water.
Our dining experience began with freshly baked, country whole wheat bread, delivered on a simple plank of wood with semi-soft butter, sprinkled with sea salt and chives.
Next, a chilled potato and leek amuse arrived with a crunchy circular watermelon radish and crisp artichoke piece on top.
Looking at the cocktail menu, I realized it’s a great read and an informative lesson on alcohol and spirits. Did you know Vodka was first created in 1405? Brandy dates back to the 7th century. Gin is originally from Holland.
The sommelier, Paul Sanguinetti, paired an Iberian Remix with nice citrus notes and a creamy lemon curd flavor with our first course, a beautiful tangerine salad with crisp little gem lettuce, a trifling of red onion, thinly shaved San Andreas cheese and slices of smooth avocado sprinkled with champagne vinaigrette.
Sanguinetti came back with his new favorite Italian wine for our second course, a Greco from Calabria. Grown near the boot of Italy in volcanic soil, it offered a taste of white nectarine, peaches and a slight hint of tarragon. This wine complemented the wild striped bass with hedgehog mushrooms, sunchokes, and a red seedless grape bathed in a green garlic purée.
Our next tasting was the English pea ricotta gnocchi with pea tendrils, walnut and Pecorino Sardo cheese. This was paired with an Italian 2008 Porta de Pati. Its dark plum character with dusty tannins and a slight bitter cherry note was the perfect accompaniement to the walnut flavors of the dish.
A wood roasted Anaheim chili pepper stuffed with chorizo, dates, local goat cheese and topped with an almond sauce was the fourth course. The organic wine with this course was made in Spain and grown on a steep mountain terrain. It is harvested by hand and delivers fruity berry flavors with a distinct blueberry aroma. It tamed the hotness of the chili and accentuated the dates and walnut essence.
Fortunately, the portions are small, so one does not overeat while enjoying each course.
Our fifth dish was the lamb sweetbreads with artichokes, mint, pine nuts and a sweet and sour red onion agrodulce and decadent citrus vinaigrette sauce.
Lastly, the stuffed squab crepinette arrived on a bed of English peas and tiny pearl onions with sautéed-to-tender white root vegetables in a truffle Madeira jus. We drank a 3 oz. taste of Red Pantheon from Santa Ynez. It offered bold plum, pepper and black olive notes.
For dessert, we enjoyed a light orange marmalade cake with grapefruit curd, mandarianquat, crunchy meringue and a citrus flavor frozen goat yogurt.
The chocolate lovers cake, mousse with and dark chocolate chips and chocolate sorbet, went nicely with a late harvest Pinot Gris.
Upon leaving, Ron, the general manager, walked us through the boxed herb and vegetable garden. As with the restaurant, the garden is just starting to blossom and thrive.
Try Ray’s for their Mother’s Day three-course brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s $39 per person and $22 for children under 12.
From now until May 31, visit Stark Bar on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for any flatbread and Copper Hook beer for $12, two bartenders’ cocktails for $6 and selected wines by the glass for $5. This special is not offered on Friday nights when Free Jazz Friday begins at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
$$-$$$, 5905 Wilshire Blvd. (323)857-6180.
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