Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Post 79: By Invitation - The Edison New Food and Cocktail Menu (LA: Downtown)

Earlier this year I was invited by The Edison to partake in their new food and cocktail menu.  I have visited this venue enough times previously that I had almost taken the Prohibition era feel and the cool foggy glow of the basement space for granted.  With special care given by Arpi of Sunshine Sachs and Barbara Jacobs of The Edison during the tasting experience, all the feelings of awe and inspiration that I felt during my first visit years ago returned as I descended the steps of the historic Higgins Building.

After meeting fellow bloggers and foodies while munching on bacon-maple beer nuts, we were presented with the charcuterie & cheese platter paired with the Pig's Tale Ale.  The smorgasbord included salami, savory paté, and a creamy Brie, all of which are my favorite items on their own.  The Pig's Tale Ale was a white ale, usually not my favorite of brews, but this was surprisingly refreshing.  It was a blessed blend of something light yet flavorful, slightly sweet with a mild bitter aftertaste.  Many sips and silent nods later, we agreed that the Pig's Tale Ale was a new favorite for our palates.

Next up was an albondigas soup graced with Kobe beef meatballs.  Plopped in the midst of the tomato and chicken broth were carrots and potatoes as well as ground Kobe blended with cumin, paprika, cilantro and rice.  The meatballs were tender and moist, and the broth itself was more than comforting.  This soup could warm my hands on a rainy winter day, and it could just as easily serve as a shoulder of consolation at the end of a long day at work.

Our first cocktail of the night was the Eye of the Beholder, a creative concoction made with mescal and tequila blended with pineapple gum syrup, and a duo of red and green jalapeños.  A lemon wheel danced atop the foam of citrus and cayenne pepper.  The drink itself was peppery but not spicy at all... the cayenne pepper further enhanced the naturally smoky mescal.  Vida, the most sought after Oaxacan mescal used in the Eye of the Beholder, mixed with the pepper and chile helped paint the ancient culinary taste of Mexican natives.  The sweet and sour notes from the lemon and pineapple gum syrup brought friendly reminders of last summer's hard lemonade.

The soup was quickly followed by A Simple Salad.  Small mixed greens with shrimp, corn, tomatoes and avocado was as simple as it could've gotten, but simple was by no means an indication that it was lacking in taste.  The harvest was glossed with a dressing of Meyer lemon and balsamic vinaigrette.  It was light enough to keep the featherweight greens propped up in three dimensional fashion.  The plump, jumbo shrimp was cooked to seafood al dente.  Everything tasted so fresh I could have sworn that it was summer, and the vegetables were picked straight from the backyard of the Higgins Building.

Paired with the sensational salad was the Brass Flower, a glowing grandeur of gin and grapefruit that was as beautiful to look at as it was to drink.  The color made it radiant.  The finishing touch of Prosecco made it sweet.  Had all the electricity gone out in The Edison's basement, the Brass Flower would have been the only light fixtures that shined.  Simply beautiful.

Following the salad was a bouquet of balance.  Not only did this basket of 50-50 fries balance out the healthiness of the mixed greens by adding a fried presence to the meal, it also mixed potatoes and sweet potatoes together in a fusion of harmony.  The age old question used to be... fries or onion rings? Nowadays, we have the luxury of debating between the classic French fry or the more avant garde sweet potato fry.   Lucky for us, The Edison solves the dilemma in just one basket.  Amazing.

Up next was a trio of protein in the form of beef, pork, and a chicken egg.  The beef was a remarkably rare Kobe slider with tender beef, onion marmalade and Maytag bleu cheese.  The pork was formed into what The Edison calls the Boiler Room, a sandwich with the texture reminiscent of Vietnamese banh mi... soft, savory swine and crunchy cucumber wrapped with a crunchy shroud of freshly toasted bread.  The Angel Egg was a classic deviled egg adorned with shiny black caviar.  The smoothness of the creamy yolk gave way to the salty crunch of the caviar for a texture contrast that was very much appreciated.  The trio was served with the Secretariat, a cocktail fused with Kentucky bourbon, pistachio honey, walnut liquor, and rumored hints of all spice and cloves.

If that wasn't enough to fill us up, along came the Downtowner, a plate of jumbo prawns on a bed of stone ground grits with spinach and a poached egg.  Grits, although typically thought of as Southern food, didn't taste like Southern food at all.  Maybe it was the setting.  Maybe it was coarse ground texture.  Maybe it was the velvety egg yolk and silky spinach that I incorporated into the grits and crunchy bacon.  Whether it had the essence of the South or the feel of the Prohibition didn't matter... it was good.

On the same plate as the shrimp and grits was the Cabernet braised short ribs with mashed potatoes & creamed leeks.  The red wine permeated deep down into the sinews of the center, and its juice made for a natural gravy to be expunged onto the mashed potatoes.  For a little extra color and garnish, a floral swirl of roasted heirloom carrot sat above the braised ribs.  The Mistress, a vodka drink shaken with pomegranate and hibiscus liqueur, was served with this plate.  The freshly squeezed lemon juice in the beverage provided a cleansing finish to the main course of the meal.

Got room for dessert? Sure.  How about three desserts? Well, if the desserts are The Edison's house chocolate chip cookie, the Elvis, and the Merry Widow sandwiches, then there's an acre of free space for these items.  The chocolate chip cookie was baked to perfection with a combination of bitter and semisweet chocolate chips.  The Elvis was Curious George's dream... a peanut butter and banana sandwich pan-fried with clarified butter.  If the monkey ever got his hands on this sandwich, he would have buttery fingers, peanut butter goo on his chin, and a belly full of bananas... and he would die happy.  The Merry Widow had a similar concept except Nutella substituted the PB.  The Elvis would fair well with those who like slightly savory desserts, while the Merry Widow would work with traditionalists who think dessert should always be sweet.  The sandwiches were served with caramel dipping sauce and fresh whipped cream.

The final cocktails of the night were a Perrier Jouet Champagne and the Natasha Mila, which whisked in flavors of lemon and raspberry.  These concluding artisan drinks were great ways to say thank you and bid adieu to Barbara, John, and the more than hospitable staff at The Edison.

A note on social responsibility: always have a designated driver, especially if half a dozen drinks are in your evening plans.  However, if your DD somehow can't resist the carefully crafted cocktails at The Edison (and who can resist), then make sure to inform the staff at the venue.  The great thing about The Edison, as told by Barbara, is that they will call a cab for whoever cannot safely drive themselves home... at their expense.  Barbara and The Edison are extremely proud that they are one of the only venues in Los Angeles that has never had a drunken driver cause an accident after leaving the premises.  Let's keep it that way.  Props to The Edison for having this policy to keep us car loving Angelenos safe.  Please don't drink and drive.

A big thank you goes out to Arpi for the invite and Barbara for hosting a wonderful evening.  The new food and cocktail menu will definitely beckon many to this beloved Downtown venue.  Until next time, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

ML - 20120201

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