Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Special Foodventure #90: Appetite Stimulus Dinner at Citrus at Social (Hollywood)

Following up from my quickie (a.k.a. finally having the time to sit down more than a few minutes and actually blog), Citrus at Social was a wonderful experience and definitely a decent deal during their OpenTable Appetite Stimulus week, with a $35 three-course that would cost more like $60 a la carte.
My weeknights aren't exactly made for driving around LA to do a multi-course dinner but hey, how can I complain with such savings? Despite a rather late dinner (8:30p) when we arrived the dining room still had a good crowd and a few large parties (the above picture was taken after our meal.)

A pleasant surprise for my dining companion and I was that Citrus had several options for each of the courses (their Web site's posted Appetite Stimulus menu was prix-fixe in the truest sense with no choices, preferences / allergies be damned) and it turned out to be a four-course meal, with an added appetizer course that we share in addition to the firsts, mains and desserts. We wasted no time making our selections and then slinking back on our seats to admire the environs.
Within ten minutes our first starter arrived, onion tart with creme fraiche and bacon, my first thought: a gussied-up Chinese scallion pancake. While I would've liked the onions to be more caramelized and more bacon, the crispy tart had a wonderful mixture of flavors and textures (crispy flatbread-like base, sweet tender onions, smokey and salty bacon and creamy-tangy creme fraiche), I am glad we were splitting this since it was a pretty hearty starter.
Next for my appetizer, an ahi tuna and beets salad with daikon. Under the dark lighting, it was hard to tell by eyes alone which crimson cube was tuna and which was beet, but it was definitely quite a sight to see a salad plate that's more red than green. The flavors OK though, primarily because the beets did taste a little 'muddy' and I can't tell if that's an inate flavor or if the beets need a more thorough cleaning, and definitely doesn't help my nerves any that it's intermingling with raw fish! Being a fairly chilly night, my companion opted for their pumpkin soup with lardons and spices -- which was delicious and generous (the soup came in a pitcher that easily could've filled two bowls). My companion loved that the spices (which I could best detect as a cinnamon-nutmeg combo) were just enough to give it a little zip and not overpowering the pumpkin entirely.
Then the entrees, whose mini portions were a rare pleasant surprise for us since we're stuffed from the tart, the apps and the bread service with oh-so-creamy butter. I had their "Duck, Duck, Orange" - an intepretation of the French dish that hit off OK. Meat is a bit tough but the flavors were there, between the sweet-tart orange and the salty soy sauces. The baby carrots and bok choy were remarkably fresh, but the beets, again, had that slight tinge of mud flavor. My companion got the 72 Hour Short Rib with a "potato napoleon" (basically a crisp on top of a mash) -- not sure if it really has been cooked for three days straight, but the rib was definitely one of the tenderest I've tasted, practically melts in your mouth with all the braised flavor thoroughly infused. The potatoes were good but a bit standard.
What really sealed the deal for us, though, were the desserts that were gorgeous and delicious! I got the Mushroom Vacherin, a delicate stacked meringue duo filled with vanilla chantilly cream and chocolate ice cream with a luxurious pistachio creme anglaise sauce and mini poppity pieces of bittersweet chocolate pearls. My companion got the simply named "Michel's Chocolate Bar" featuring flaky chocolate tuile pastry nestled in a semisweet chocolate ganache with a fragrant noisette sauce. Like the entrees, a little went a long way here!

Last but not least, the service. The waiter and the busser worked in flawless synchrony at a near-perfect level of attentiveness without being overbearing in their refills, check-ups and bussing. Totally took us for surprise since we were ordering essentially the cheapskate menu, but definitely were treated like celebrities.

Despite the beets, we had a pleasant dining experience at Citrus; the prices are a bit steep even after their menu scaled back, but it's definitely something I'll keep in mind for a classier-than-casual meal or drinks and small bites.

Citrus at Social
6525 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA‎
(323) 337-9797

Citrus at Social Hollywood on Urbanspoon


Loving Annie said...

Sounds like a wonderful place to go for a special evening out !

TonyC said...

new chef, new menu... I'll be hitting it up during DineLA week.

Matt said...

Damn, sounds like a good deal. Sad I missed it!

H. C. said...

@Annie, definitely -- pleasant food, nice decor, great service

@TonyC & @Matt -- yep this is on my list for DineLA as well - can't wait to see what that menu's like.

Chubbypanda said...

Most root veggies have some tinge of mud flavor, although beets tend to be the worst. The muddy flavor of beets tends to intensify as they age, so it sounds like the beets you had were definitely heading a bit South.

Aaron said...

That mushroom dessert certainly looks surreal. In the candle light, it almost looks like it's glowing

H. C. said...

@CP, ahh - that's kind of what I thought, but yea, even by root veggie standards these were super muddy. The only downside of the meal, luckily -- but a very noticeable one at that.

@Aaron - it was a pretty dish, and we felt bad for having to destroy it to eat it -- but glad we did :)

Khoi said...

Don't know if I'm the odd man out here, but I enjoy eating beets because they're loaded with all kinds of good things for your body.

I laughed when you described the beets as tasting very noticeably muddy, only because I too can relate! I've had a few beets here and there that nearly caused me to divorce the dang root altogether... but thankfully, dinners like the one at Cal Tech (beet salad) provided redeeming qualities.

Anyway, all this talk about beets has got me... beat. o_O

LOL @ "I can't tell if that's an inate flavor or if the beets need a more thorough cleaning, and definitely doesn't help my nerves any that it's intermingling with raw fish!"

H. C. said...

@Khoi, yep the beets at the Athenaeum dinner was superb! And yea, beets like those converted me back :)


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