Monday, October 17, 2011

Santa Monica: JiRaffe

Andrew arrived in LA quite soon after block exams ended, two Wednesday nights ago.  On that Thursday evening, we drove to Santa Monica for a celebratory dinner at JiRaffe.  The restaurant - which in fact has giraffe figurines displayed on ledges high above the dining area - is dim and relatively loud during peak dinner hours, and service was on the slow side; fortunately, we weren't in any hurry.  Our dineLA meal started with a bread basket (white, something dark and anise-flavored, and brioche) and an amuse bouche of mushroom soup in shot glasses.  This was extremely mushroomy and rich, to the point where we couldn't sip more than half of the portion.  For wines, we chose a glass of Malbec and a glass of (I think) pinot grigio.

Appetizer 1: tomato tart.  Puff pastry base, chopped and dressed tomatoes, burrata (i.e. mozzarella + cream), some caramelized onions, and garnishes of basil, olive and ratatouille sauces.  Possibly my favorite dish of the entire meal, because of the perfect combination of well-seasoned tomato with creamy burrata.

Appetizer 2: seafood ceviche.  Shrimp, calamari, grouper, cabbage, cherry tomatoes and a refreshing lime dressing.

Entree 1: roasted loup de mer (branzino) with Manila clams in a tomato-saffron broth.  Pretty much any seafood in a saffron broth is something I'll enjoy.

Entree 2: beef filet with a tomato galette, chard, salad, and Madeira sauce.  Consumed with enthusiasm.

Our desserts were the caramelized banana cream pie and the chocolate hazelnut mousse dome with a crispy base, both excellent - and even with my love of chocolate and hazelnut, I think I liked the banana cream pie a little bit more.  All in all, a lovely meal!