Spago - Beverly Hills

176 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 385-0880

We took the opportunity to dine at Spago because of DineLA restaurant week. For the price of $44, you can get a 3 course meal at many of LA's finer dining establishments. Having heard fantastic things about Spago, we were eager to sample the finer side of Wolfgang Puck's cuisine.

Here are just some of the breads that we sampled.
Heirloom tomato soup - with fresh ricotta crouton, confit cherry tomatoes 
I started with the Heirloom Tomato Soup. This was my favorite course of the night. The soup had the essence and flavor of just-picked tomatoes right from the garden. I would say that this was the best tomato soup I have had. I really enjoyed the ricotta crouton with confit cherry tomatoes and micro-greens. Enjoyed everything about this course.

Wild Mushroom Raviolini - wild field mushrooms and parmesan reggiano
Another excellent dish for any mushroom lover. This dish had an assortment of earthy mushrooms that really maintained their heavenly mushroom flavor. The ravioloni was nicely made and the parmesan reggiano added another dimension of flavor that complemented the mushrooms. 
Pumpkin Agnolotti with mascarpone and reggiano (14) 
Also available with the DineLA are a few supplements. Having heard great things about the corn agnolotti and how the flavors of corn really shine, we were disappointed to see that the corn had been replaced with pumpkin.  Still, the waitress was really pushing this supplement, a little too pushy.  And so we gave in.  We were quite intrigued that the natural sweetness of the pumpkin really came out of this pumpkin agnolotti. Our waitress informed us that no sugar or sweeteners were added. Enjoyed this dish, though we weren't wowed by it.
Kurobuta Pork Chop - Pear-ginger compote, stir fried green beans, confit pork, Chinese 10 spice, port-licorice reduction
There were three choices for mains on this night. The choices were pork chop, cod, or a roasted chicken. Knowing we would order cod and thinking chicken might be too normal of a dish, I ended up going with the Kurobuta pork chop. I was hesitant to pick this dish because of the Asian flair, but interested because of the Kurobota pork chop. The pork chop wasn't as succulent and moist as I would have imagined it to be. I enjoyed the pear ginger compote and thought it went well with the saltier aspects of the dish. Didn't care so much for the stir fried green beans and other Asian accented components to the dish though.
Pan-Roasted Basco Bay Cod - puree and ragout of gigante and cranberry beans, pancetta, wild mushrooms, and mascarpone emulsion
I didn't thoroughly enjoy this dish as I should have because my taste buds were already overloaded by the wild mushroom flavors of the raviolini.  So eating this dish wasn't as enjoyable.  The cod, however, was nicely cooked with just the perfect outer crisp and soft inside.  The rest of the ingredients made this dish quite bold by the intense mushroom flavors and slightly heavy textures, which drew away from the fish.

Apple Vol au Vent - carmelized braeburn apples, almond crumble, pear prosecco ice cream

This dessert was essentially a fancy apple pie. The puff pastry aspect of the dessert was the most layered and light puff pastry I have ever had. The almond crumble and the pear prosecco ice cream were enjoyable complements to this dish. Enjoyed this dessert, but wished there was a little more excitement to the dessert selection.

Chocolate purse - crispy crepe, warm chocolate ganache, port sauteed cherries and vanilla ice cream
This dessert was pretty much chocolate in a shell. This was a very difficult dessert to eat. I had to use a knife and fork to carefully break open up this purse and catch the little crisps before flying everywhere.  Although the presentation was enticing, this dessert didn't have enough contrasting textures and flavors for me. This felt like a designated Dine LA dessert.

Spago focuses on seasonal ingredients and farm fresh produce. The emphasis was apparent in many of the dishes we sampled. The mushrooms truly tasted of mushrooms as opposed to many restaurants that advertise mushroom in the descriptions but nary a hint of mushroom flavor. Overall, we enjoyed our meal, but didn't love everything we had. I heard that the way to truly enjoy Spago is to get the tasting menu.  Maybe someday we'll try that instead.


Old Vine Cafe - Costa Mesa

2937 Bristol St # A102
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Located in the eco-friendly, hip, and cool CAMP retail center in Costa Mesa, Old Vine Cafe focuses on seasonal ingredients and an international cuisine style. Highly rated by OC Weekly, Yelp, and Chowhound polls, I wanted to eat here for quite some time. For some reason or another, I just never got around to eating here. Until now that is. My wife surprised me with a "happy hour" at OVC. This happy hour is a steal at $15 per person for 4 courses. Keep in mind the 4 courses as you read the post.

Included in the happy hour are complimentary chips and salsa. These crunchy chips were quite greasy and oily. Salsa was fresh and had a nice heat to it. 

Seafood croquetas with Cajun jambalaya sauce
The seafood croquetas were nicely fried and the accompanying Cajun jambalaya sauce added a welcoming heat to this dish. 

Beef Tenderloin Stroganoff
All natural beef tenderloins medallions and shitake mushrooms served over rice w/ cream demi glace
The beef tenderloins were indeed tender. I can't recall much about the cream demi glace. This dish was an overall good dish, but nothing too exciting since it had a very one note in its flavor.

Vermont Cheddar with dried figs, apricot, and cranberries
This is where things got a little strange on the service side. Having been told that there were 4 courses involved in our meal, we waited patiently for our last cheese course. Eventually, the waiter came by and dropped off the check to our table. My wife and I kind of looked at each other, telepathically saying "Didn't he say there were 4 courses?"  I eventually got the waiter's attention and asked if there were 4 courses involved, to which he replied "yes." So, now we were thinking.. O.....K.....What the heck is going on here? The waiter then asks us if we were interested in it. Of course we are!!!! Why wouldn't we be???? Didn't actually say this to him. Just politely asked for the 4th course.

Having been really looking forward to eating at OVC and hearing great things about it, OVC did not meet my expectations. The food itself being OK and the service being OK to bad with the 4th course snafu. I don't know if can attribute it to the $15 happy hour and the courses served, but looking at the menu online, most of these dishes are ones that are served on the menu anyway. I might return one day to try out the one of the tasting menus.  But I am definitely not in any rush.