My yet-to-be-named restaurant club dined at Cook’s County recently. Circle of Trust is the unofficial name that seems to have stuck since we eat freely, drink freely and talk freely at our dinners, but only the food and wine talk is shared beyond the table.
Cooks County is another restaurant that serves small plates. I know Evan Kleiman and Jonathan Gold often discuss on “Good Food” how every restaurant these days seem to specialize in this. I am not sure if they think it is a good thing or a bad thing. But I think it is a very good thing indeed. If I could spend my life just eating appetizers, that would make me happy.
We wanted to order a nice wine but couldn’t decide on the bottle. Our waitress brought over several tasters to help us and we chose the 2007 Muga Rioja. I think this is an incredible thing that restaurants will do. My husband’s best friend was visiting from the UK and we went to a restaurant that has an enormous, eclectic beer selection. He was shocked when the waiter brought over several small tasters to help him make up his mind. “That would never happen in the UK, mate.”
We started with the “Snacks” portion of the menu: Cast Iron Bread & Farmhouse Butter, Fried Cardoons with Parmesan, Sage & Spicy Aioli, Market Radishes & Lemon Meyer Butter and Braised Local Squid with Red Wine & Cannellini Beans. I know some people balk at paying for bread & butter but when it’s this good, it’s worth it. So worth it we got a second order! Cardoons, for those of you who don’t know – including us because we had to ask our waitress – are artichoke thistles. Butter on anything makes it better but, butter on radishes is divine. The squid was perfectly cooked, tender and flavorful.
Then we ordered off the “Appetizers” and “Sides” menu. We never even got to the “Mains”. See, my kind of meal. The Cauliflower & Romanesco Salad with Fingerling Potatoes, Hard Cooked Eggs & Mustard was as flavorful as it was beautiful. Same could be said for the Grilled Eggplant, Fire Roasted Nardello peppers, Sheep’s Milk Ricotta & Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Cooks County supports local farms and ranches, and we could taste this freshness in their dishes. To see these purveyors listed at the bottom of their daily menu is really impressive.
The last small plate to arrive was the Pan-Roasted Clams, Shaved Fennel, Pickled Chili & Garlic Rubbed Toast. This was one of those dishes where you wanted to spoon up the incredible broth as soup. This dish is why we ordered that second round of Cast Iron Bread. We had to have something to soak it all up.
We had a big debate over the dessert but since it was close to Jenny’s birthday, she got to choose – Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown Butter Sugar Cream & Pumpkin Seed Brittle. I had my doubts but this dessert was delicious.
However, looking back over the dessert menu now, I am sad we didn’t throw caution to the wind and also order the Sugar & Spice Donuts with Sour Plum Jam & Muscovado Sugar Ice Cream as well as the Apple Turnover with Huckleberry Compote & Brown Butter Ice Cream.
Another incredible evening dining out in LA.