Posts Tagged “tasting”

Tonight I was lucky enough to enjoy the special New Year’s chef’s tasting menu at Madeleine Bistro. I’m a sucker for fancy prix fixe menus and I have a record of going all out on New Year’s, so this was a welcome meal to usher in 2010. There were 7 courses of unique offerings, all vegan, all delicious (one of them had two plates, so it’s like a bonus course!).  I was also fortunate enough to run into the delightful blogger of Hugger Food and join tables (check her blog for the view from the other side of the table).  It’s a small vegan world out there (in fact, I wouldn’t know one LA blogger from the next, but half the people had cameras next to their plates)!  But let’s cut right to the chase.

The New Year's Chef's Tasting Menu at Madeleine Bistro.

Dim sum - steamed bun, tempeh "lollipop," crispy wonton.

First up was the dim sum plate. The bun was filled with savory seitan and reminded me of getting dim sum in Chinatown in New York, but even tastier and the tempeh balls were soft and filled with delicious flavors that I couldn’t quite name.

“Clam” chowder in a bread bowl.

You know, I don’t see vegan chowder close to as much as I would like. Add some biscuits to soak it up and you have a meal fit for a king. Actually, this course unto itself could have been a small meal; it was hearty and very satisfying.

Chestnut and apple salad, pickled pearl onions, fennel puree, mulled cider vinaigrette.

Any dish that combines baked apples and chestnuts is ok in my book, but what I really liked here were the pickled pearl onions. They didn’t have a strong onion flavor, just slightly sweet with a satisfying snap to them. But good luck stabbing them with your fork, they’re slippery little guys.

Quinoa-crusted Moroccan seitan, artichoke and chickpea tagine, meyer lemon confit, harissa emulsion.

The seitan was the softest seitan I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, it was really good, but it was different. I almost thought that it was a preparation of tofu. It went very well with the slightly crispy crust of quinoa to even out the texture and the harissa emulsion to add a slightly spicy kick.

Portobella “chasseur,” house-cut arugula tagliatelle, wild mushroom ragout.

I don’t know what chasseur is, but I like it. Madeleine Bistro always make good mushrooms (think brunch benedict…). Add to that some more of the pearl onions, roasted brussels sprouts and the arugula pasta and you have yet another course that could make a small meal.

Crackers and herb-crusted cashew cheese.

Kettle corn and popcorn ice creme.

The cheese and cracker plate was part of the same course as the kettle corn plate. The cashew cheese tasted like chives and made an excellent spread. I’m not sure if I caught the popcorn flavor of the ice cream, but the plate successfully balanced the savory cheese and crackers plate with kettle corn sweetness.

“3 x 3” - an assortment of chocolate, peanut butter and caramel treats.

By the time the “3 x 3″ arrives, it feels like a pretty daunting task. To the left is a peanut butter mousse on top of a soft chocolate wafer, topped with more chocolate. In the middle are three candies; a peanut butter cup, a “butterfinger,” and straight caramel. All the way in the back is a peanut butter candy topped with caramel and, yes, more chocolate. I had to take my time with this plate. My favorite was the candy in the back, which was also the richest of all the options.

Madeleine Bistro is high on everyone’s list of best restaurants in LA, so I highly recommend swinging by for a great meal. It isn’t easy to find really good gourmet vegan food and this place nails it every time.

Madeleine Bistro
(818) 758-6971
18621 Ventura Blvd
Tarzana, CA 91356
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