Sunday



Maude

212 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Reservations: 310 859 3418

This month is all about Truffles.


Handsome Aussie Chef Curtis Stone describes his incredibly intimate and charming restaurant in Beverly Hills as, "The Maude Experience."  This brief but accurate description is what separates Maude from just about every other restaurant in Los Angeles; it is indeed just that: an experience.


Perhaps it's the fact that you can walk right past Maude without noticing it.  Perhaps it's the warm and welcoming interior.  Perhaps it's the aroma of delightful creations whilst the chef and sous chef hurry themselves in the open kitchen to quietly arrange a piece of art on a plate.  Whatever it is,  it is a sysygy of planets aligning in an exquisite celestial power that is like no other and we are so happy it's in our hometown. 


Maude was Chef's dear Granny who originally inspired him in the food arena and opened his eyes to the possibilities of meals as creations.  Each month there is a new theme of a celebrated ingredient, and The Dining Duo has been there for nearly all of them since Maude opened its doors.  From Tomatoes to Peas to Rhubarb and beyond, the nine course tasting menu always delivers and always leaves us wanting more, not wishing we had stopped after course five.  Tonight was about truffles; white truffles; nine courses of delicate, pungent, rare white truffles.

Entering from busy South Beverly Drive, we are welcomed by the Ben, the manager, Maitre d' in a bow-tie of the month, and ushered to one of the nine tables or so.  Nick-knacks of all sorts are thoughtfully placed around the restaurant, and the plates and cutlery are from days gone by.  


Each course is on a different set of china, and accompanied by dissimilar silver selection.  In fact, Scott recognized one set from when he grew up.  The atmosphere has been demure at times, and lively at others, all depending upon the interaction of the people at the restaurant.  It's like family has assembled for the holidays.  The honeymooners to the left were from Australia  and the ladies to the right were old friends catching up on life.  This is the perfect environment for it all.  Even the restrooms look like they are in someone's home, with nice hand towels and sweet-smelling soaps and even vintage Playboys in the men's room.

The selections are beyond creative and always a spot-on hit.  The Chefs break down the particular ingredient of that month and pair it with a beautiful compliment to make it artful, interesting and delicious.  The very best flavors are drawn out and accentuated, working themselves seamlessly throughout the evening's menu.  In the end, it is the versatility of the highlighted ingredient that is as interesting as that of the food sensation created.  And all of this magic can be seen in the open kitchen where the dishes are unobtrusively assembled.  The fact that the service is exquisite and without recrimination adds to the magic of the night.  Although service is a definite team effort, we always love receiving the sophistication and genuine smiles of Leah who brings that unmistakable friendly Aussie accent to the table.

 
We always expect to dine for about two and one half hours, but it flies by and it's worth the time investment.  In fact, the timing between courses is beyond perfect; never too fast, and never so slow that you're eating the table cloth just to keep busy.  The menu price changed this month due to the ingredient, white truffles, and tonight was more costly than usual ($250 pp).  


The wine pairings brought to us by the very knowledgeable sommelier is always an enjoyable accompaniment, but since we have a later reservation (did we mention it's just impossible to get a reservation, so plan thirty days ahead.  No walk-ins so you must make a reservation and if you're a no-show, there will be a charge, which is completely fair since there are only 25 seats in this very special venue) we opted to go with just a glass for dinner.  The selections are lovely, so leave your de rigueur bottle at home and experience what they have chosen to offer (plus the corkage fee is $50).  

Tonight was amazing.  Beyond amazing and, of course, all about white truffles from Alba (and some black ones, too).  We started with something small and very creative, miniature pop tart cannolis with some sort of white truffle cream cheese that was so bursting with flavor, and the perfect way to start with a bang. 



The soup creations are always sensational and tonight was no exception.  The potato, kohlrabi and escarole soup had such a flight of flavors that it was literally indescribable.  We hope the picture is worth the proverbial one thousand words.


The squash salad with persimmon, and, of course, truffle vinaigrette, was an excellent way to lead us into what would be one exceptional dining experience.  As flavorful as it was picturesqe, there was a lot of moaning going on at our table and others as well.


Next onto a scallop crudo with savory truffle soil and beets (Scott who is not a scallop fan even had to admit that this brought them to a whole new level).  The colors and setting of the food on the dish tantalized our visuals and led to the taste sensation that followed.


Then look at this hen egg with brioche and our perennial favorite the introduction to Alba truffles for the evening.  A gentle poke of the yoke and the Chef's ingredients combined with the infusion of the aromatic white truffles to release a superlative savory creation.  


What followed as a white truffle, endive spinach and coulis combination that again was visually stimulating and wholly original in its flavors.


Then, without fanfare or adequate celebration, our favorite dish of the evening was delivered to the table as the aroma of the white truffle preceded it.  A classic favorite, tagliatelle loaded with Alba truffles was placed in front of us and we nearly cried with joy as the server kept lavishing on the truffles.  As if that was not enough, she then dripped some warm butter over the entire dish for additional richness.  Each mouthful was simply divine. 


This was followed by a small veal sweetbread course with cauliflower and Perigord wine (once again Scott protested about veal and sweetbreads but devoured it, as well (it’s nice after 28 years together that Michael can teach an old dog new tricks...or perhaps Scott was so transported by all the truffles that he just forgot it was "sweetbread").  The presentation was royal and exquisite.


Speaking of exquisite, the venison preparation with parsnip, Matsutake and chocolate was both gorgeous to look at and even better to taste.

Were we completely sated yet? Not quite as an elegant dish of yesteryear was placed in front of us containing Teleme cheese, an American semi-soft cheese originating from San Francisco Bay area and invented before WWII by Serafino Iacono.  


We loved finishing our meal with Curtis’s take on toffee cake with white truffle ice cream raisins and pomegranate which even the Dining Duo had never experienced before….oh, what a night!  And at the end of each evening, you are presented with a different thoughtful, often times tasty gift for the next morning. This night, we received a specialized truffle knife for our kitchen collection.  Apparently Curtis is under impression that we know how to cook.  Honestly, the gift was the dinner; thank you Curtis.


Appetizingly yours,


Michael and Scott

The Dining Duo




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