Thursday, November 8, 2012

West Hollywood: AOC

Now that I've taken a full two months off from blogging, the backlog of food pictures I have in Picasa is becoming distressing.  And when I realized this week that a guest blog post from E (my ever-enthusiastic Pacific Northwest Bureau Chief) had been sitting in my inbox for months now, my own slackerness (slackening? slackerhood?) started feeling shameful.  So, here we go.  This may be No Shave November for some, but as far as my food blog goes, I think I'll aim for No Negligence.

First up is AOC in West Hollywood, where I met David, Hua, and Hua's out-of-town friend Aaron for brunch on a weekend back in July.  AOC is a wine bar and one of Suzanne Goin's establishments; I hadn't been to any of them before AOC, so I was curious.  Parking is by valet or on the street, and we all got lucky with street spots nearby.  The interior is attractive in that high ceilings + clean lines + judicious use of dark wood way (very common these days but still appealing).  We were seated in the smaller half of the restaurant, of which I don't have much lasting other than the temperature; they really should have turned the thermostat down a little that day.

I ordered the soft-shell crab BLTA, which consisted of an entire whole soft-shell crab with lettuce, tomato, avocado, bacon, and garlic aioli on a brioche bun.   It looked quite impressive, and was definitely tasty if very rich:

David ordered the oven-baked pancakes with blueberries and pistachios.  I think this dish was definitely the winner on the table.  Toasty edges, fluffy center, some crunch from the pistachios, and some lemon flavor to round out the sweetness.  Delicious!

Hua ordered the "tavern pastry plate," which consisted of a chocolate croissant, a scone of some sort, and another pastry I don't recall, all very good.  She also tried a side of the thick-cut bacon and the fruit plate, which our server said was sourced from that morning's Farmer's Market.  Aaron ordered the duck confit with mushroom hash, poached eggs, and aged balsamic.  He asked for it to be prepared gluten-free, and the kitchen readily agreed to do so, although the first plate they sent out did have to be sent back.  (No pictures of the pastry or confit/hash, sorry.)  Portions here are certainly generous, so I think sharing any of these dishes would have been fine (and would have prevented a food coma afterward).

In general I'm very wary of driving to or from West Hollywood, since it almost always involves some congestion and a quest for parking.  AOC isn't exactly convenient, and on top of that, prices are on the high side (most brunch dishes are $13-17), so it won't become a go-to.  But if I already had plans in the WeHo area, and a friend (or two) were up for some indulgence, then I think sharing some of those pancakes and maybe the confit/hash would be an enjoyable option.