Ari Segal
Ari Segal

Kosher Korner – Angelica

Hello All — I have written articles here in the past and have appreciated the opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions on various matters relating to the Jewish world — unity, peoplehood, diversity, leadership, and more.  I hope to continue that from time to time in the future.

That being said, I will be trying something new moving forward on these pages – a restaurant review blog. I guess it is not entirely new as a few years ago, I made a 6-part YouTube series of reviews of LA Kosher restaurants (https://youtu.be/AqiJFEu-zYI). I wouldn’t quite say they were critically acclaimed, but they were positively received.

At heart (and stomach), I am a foodie. I love delicious food — all types. I love cooking at home (grilling, smoking, and curing in particular), and, of course, I enjoy the tastes and ambiance of a great restaurant.

So, without further ado, I present to you my first restaurant review of my new food blog, Kosher Korner.

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I have been to Angelica many times before and have always enjoyed the food and the service, but I have never gone to review the food. It is a very different experience, and I found myself being much more aware of the various tastes and textures of the dishes.

While I don’t know if I will do this generally (although it seems like a good idea if I want to review a chef’s cuisine), I did the chef’s tasting menu. For those unaware of what that is, a tasting menu is putting yourself in the hands of the chef. They pick the dishes and send them out to you — you don’t get to choose flavors, ingredients, textures, temperatures, etc. The chef is sending you their best meal.

Tasting menu

The first course — Was a fish ceviche with grapefruit, chilies, and radish. It was perfectly balanced. The fish was incredibly fresh, and the grapefruit and chilies gave a citrus flavor with a hint of sweetness and spice. A+

Second — beef filet tartare — Again, this had a perfect balance of flavors. It was light and refreshing, particularly for a meat dish. There were small melon balls and sliced grapes that added some surprising sweetness. That is the kind of touch that separates Angelica from other restaurants. Not surprisingly, the meat was very fresh and high-quality. Pepper flakes added an unexpected spice. If I were giving some constructive feedback, I would say that it could have used a drop more salt for flavor and texture (just used what was on the table)

Third course (bonus) — Was a Moroccan cigar filled with ground organ meats on top of tehina and (what I believe was) a sweet pickled radish. This dish felt a little less balanced than previous dishes and felt heavier — which is to be expected. But this course gets a high grade from me as it is a totally elevated version of a classic dish from the shuk. (I will never eat a Moroccan cigar from Ma’adanai Tzidkiyahu ever again!)

Fourth course — Sea Fish Filet with tri-colored gnocchi, zucchini, and small gourd-balls – The fish was excellent, and the gnocchi was pillowy and very tasty. It did feel a bit too “one-note” for me – both the flavors and even the texture (despite there being multiple ingredients). I guess this is more of a “first-world food problem” as I think it is delicious and would order again. However, compared to the first three courses, I felt it lacked some flair.

Fifth course — Entrecote steak with a chimichurri and corn cream —  The “corn cream” was some of the creamiest polenta I have ever had. Tasted genuinely cheesy, which was impressive. There were zucchini “potato” chips that gave it crunch. The steak was medium rare and very tender. Although I think the cut of meat was slightly below the A+ level I would expect from Angelica and a tasting menu.  The dish was both heavy but also nicely balanced.

Sixth course — Dessert – 3 items

  1. Classic mini lava cake — very good and rich. Not unique per se.
  2. Chocolate nut truffle tasted like the pastry chef took the most delicious Viennese crunch ever and made it an incredibly smooth and tasty truffle. Godiva needs to get this recipe and sell it.
  3. Coconut flan (I think that is what it was…) with a passion fruit glaze and strawberry reduction — very tasty and refreshing. A very nice combination, although not particularly daring.

Drinks

While Angelica has a very nice wine list, and I have found their sommelier to be very knowledgeable in the past, I decided to try some cocktails with my fellow diners. I find that a truly great cocktail is as challenging to prepare as a fantastic dish (While I do enjoy great wine and fancy myself a reasonably knowledgeable wine-drinker, I wouldn’t say I am an expert — so unless there is great demand for my opinion on wines, I will leave that to some of the other Kosher wine bloggers who know their stuff.)

We ordered three cocktails – and all were delicious and incredibly well-balanced. That balance seemed to be the theme of the night and the meal.

  • Daquiri — very sweet and fresh but didn’t feel cloyingly sweet. You can’t wrong with this drink if someone wants a fruity style of drink.
  • The Vodka-based cocktail with Amaretto was sweet but also balanced by the nuttiness of the amaretto flavor.
  • The Gin-based cocktail with rosemary was the most unusual cocktail we had, and I think it would be enjoyed by diners with various cocktail preferences. It tasted both herbaceous and sweet and was very refreshing.

The only gripe I have is that (and I am finding this with more and more restaurants) — there is so much ice in the glass that you are essentially getting half a cocktail. I think that is a strategic mistake on the part of restaurants as the incremental cost of a bit more alcohol would be easily offset by the satisfaction it would engender among customers.

Service

This was the one area I felt fell short of the high standards for which Angelica is known. The service was not up to the usual Angelica standards. In the past, it has been like a ballet (best place aside from Reserve Cut in NYC), but this felt a bit more like any nice restaurant. Not bad, but not anticipating every need the way it used to be. It could be COVID.

I would give the meal an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5. Not sure what that means exactly, but there you have it.

I would love to hear back from folks and your experiences at Angelica. I would also love suggestions of other restaurants that I should consider trying and reviewing. Please email me at ari.b.segal@gmail.com

About the Author
Rabbi Ari Segal is Head of School at Shalhevet High School, in California.
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