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NOE: HECK, YES.

Byline: Larry Lipson Restaurant Critic

WHERE IS HE? Somebody rubbed the magic culinary lamp and the genie of gastronomy, chef Robert Gadsby, reappeared.

One of two of this town's peripatetic celebrity chefs - the other being Claude Segal - Gadsby of Checkers, Xiomara, Luna Park and other restaurants has resurfaced into the bright scrutiny of downtown upscale dining with a partnership arrangement with the Omni Hotel as the chef and co-owner of Noe, the hotel's third-floor haute dining room and lounge.

Noe, which is the British-born Gadsby's middle name, is his second ownership venture. The first is an excellent little eponymous spot with limited parking near the tough Wilshire and La Brea intersection that has been the scene of several valiant restaurant attempts.

Since then, he has cooked in hotels in Santa Monica and downtown L.A., his latter stint at the Biltmore evidently impressing the Omni people enough to bring him in as a restaurant partner.

As Gadsby's local coterie of devotees find out about his new digs, they are flitting downtown to discover that he hasn't lost his talented touch.

As always, there's an amuse bouche, no charge, kick off. Last time at Noe, it was a small rectangle of watermelon, a mango frappe mixture and a couple of strips of manchego cheese.

There are those who would rush to reaffirm the worth of his signature gingered butternut squash soup ($9) that looks amazingly like a cup of cappuccino, but instead we opted for his marvelous roasted sweetbreads ($15) with pancetta that he nestles on mashed potatoes flavored with celery and apple.

And nore scintillating starters like sweet, succulent sea scallops ($14) a la Gadsby that get the hot, citric, herbal, crunch, tart and more sweet treatment with sensibly restrained accompaniments of pepper, pineapple, vinegar, lemon, rosemary and corn. Wow!

He brings celery root together with warm lobster meat in a dramatic- looking, napoleon-style appetizer/second course ($14) boosted with a curried tomato mixture.

Pasta lovers can thoroughly enjoy as a first or second course a savory rendition of rigatoni ($15) with Gadsby's own kitchen-made sausage and fresh tomato sauce plus a scattering of aged goat cheese.

Other beginnings worth trying are a formed mimosa salad ($11), a foe gras with sour cherries plate ($19) and a seared yellowfin tuna offering ($12) with a bitter greens salad tossed with soy olive oil.

In larger form, the same refreshing tuna comes as a formidable entree ($26) with more soy, this time a mustard sauce with ginger and soy.

Like so many of today's top chefs, Asian influences abound in Gadsby's dishes.

Who would have expected lop chong Chinese sausage to show up in a striped bass entree ($26)?

Gadsby manages to successfully combine braised fennel and Chinese ``chorizo'' with this sturdy-fleshed fish for what is undoubtedly his best Noe seafood effort.

He pairs his juicy pan-roasted chicken ($23) very effectively with such diverse partners as baby bok choy, grapes and mushrooms.

Pinot noir wine drinkers will probably lean toward the tasty Liberty Farms sliced duck breast ($26) here, which arrives with pureed parsnip, roasted pear and star anise as satisfying plate companions.

And there's more for the red wine/robust red meat set.

A perfect filet mignon topped with boneless short rib meat ($32) or a super-structured, fall-off-the-bone lamb shank ($28) paired with a sensationally savory version of cheese-and-onion-flavored bread pudding will make that good bottle of syrah/shiraz or your big, layered cabernet sauvignon taste even better.

Room for sweets?

We ended with the sinfully sugary, mascarpone cream-stuffed cannoli ($8).

It's good to see Gadsby is back and in rare form.

And in a nicely appointed, high-windowed, downtown skyline-view dining room named Noe.

Larry Lipson, (818) 713-3668

larry.lipson(at)dailynews.com

NOE

Food: four stars - Wine: three stars - Service: three and one half stars

Where: Omni Los Angeles Hotel, California Plaza, 251 S. Olive St., Los Angeles.

Hours: Open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly, to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Recommended items: Seared diver sea scallops, roasted sweetbreads, lobster and celery root napoleon, classic mimosa salad, striped bass with braised fennel and lop chong, duck with parsnip puree, lamb shank with savory bread pudding, filet and short ribs, mascarpone cannoli.

How much: Starters from $9 to $19, second courses from $11 to $15, entrees from $18 to $32, cheese plates from $8 to $15, desserts $8 each. Six-course tasting dinner $65, nine-course $95. Full bar. Major credit cards.

Wine list: Three-page starter list with good range from $25 to $250, includes `97 California cabernet for $36. Decent port list ($8 to $30). Corkage: $15.

Reservations: Helpful. Call (213) 356-4100.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

This formed mimosa salad is an example of the care taken with the menu at Noe in the Omni Hotel downtown.

John McCoy/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:Review; U
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 22, 2003
Words:802
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