Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Where to Eat: dineL.A. Restaurant Week @ Acabar

** January 2016 Update: Acabar is now officially closed. 

The Eats: A three-course dinner, designed especially for dineL.A. Restaurant Week

The Location: West Hollywood

The Vibes: An intimate Middle Eastern oasis

Good for: A culinary experience that’s out of the norm

When-To-Go: Two weeks during dineL.A.; Tuesday, Jan. 20 – Saturday, Jan. 24 and Tuesday, Jan. 27 – Saturday, Jan. 31

The $ Factor: $40 for dinner

The Names behind the scenes: Chef de Cuisine Kevin Luzande

The 4-1-1: This Moroccan-themed restaurant features a bar, lounge and restaurant

Parking Situation: Valet parking or metered street parking

I’ll Be Back…: For the Sweet Potato Gnocchi!

Hard to believe, but dineL.A. Restaurant Week is here once again! A biannual event, dineL.A. Restaurant Week features hundreds of local Los Angeles restaurants offering three- and four-course, prix-fixe lunch or dinner menus (or sometimes both) at a set price. Frequenting a participating dineL.A. restaurant is an absolutely great way to try out new places, as dineL.A. prices are usually cheaper than regular prices on any other given day.

Last week, I had a chance to visit one dineL.A. restaurant in particular for an exclusive media dinner. I stopped by Acabar, which has previously made the #WilsonsGuide blog—to see what would be on their winter 2015 dineL.A. Restaurant Week menu.

Acabar is presenting a three-course dinner—a starter, an entrée and a dessert—and each course includes three different options to chose from. Here’s a look at each item being offered…

First Course

The Shades of Winter Salad is a crisp salad with slightly bitter greens tossed in a light dressing. It includes cauliflower couscous, radish and a parsnip/cashew puree. The most intriguing part? The creamy balls of goat cheese rolled in a textured Moroccan Olive dust.

The Kanpachi Crudo has thin slices of amber jack fish accompanied by even thinner slices of pears and cucumbers, topped with “olive dust,” a plum vinaigrette and salmon roe. It has a delicate, sweet flair to it, and there’s a welcomed juxtaposition of soft and crunch textures.

I didn’t have a chance to try the Beef Carpaccio (I don’t eat beef), but it was presented beautifully, spread out in a circle on the plate, with arancini in the middle, and sprinkled with a bone marrow vinaigrette and horseradish.

My favorite: the Shades of Winter Salad, thanks to the delightfully intriguing goat cheese balls. Such a unique, fun way to prepare goat cheese--who knew Moroccan Olive dust existed!

Second Course

The Sweet Potato Gnocchi is an exclusive dineL.A.-only item. It has a massive hen of the woods—or maitake—mushroom, that’s charbroiled and it is literally all kinds of deliciousness. The gnocchi, soft, yet firm, is made of sweet potato and had an amazing flavor. It was soaked in a creamy brown butter sauce and topped with melted Parmesan cheese. This is a vegetarian option.

The Seared Scallops are large, accompanied by bok choy, celery, red mustard greens and chestnuts roasted so well they're extremely soft. The scallop alone didn’t have much flavor, but paired nicely with the other ingredients.

Although I didn’t have a chance try it, the Braised Short Rib seemed to be quite a satisfying, filling item, in a bed of spigarello and roasted sunchoke, from the comments I heard around me. 

My favorite: The Sweet Potato Gnocchi. Sometimes traditional gnocchi can be bland, but using sweet potatoes definitely kicked it up a notch!

Third Course

The Coconut Coulant comprises coconut custard, mango compote and coconut powder and foam. Served chilled, it had faint hints of coconut and was very refreshing.

The Sweet Potato Pie wins the award for “Best Presentation,” with its all-white appearance and funky shapes, accented by sugar tuille. All the way at the bottom of the layers of the mounds of sweet potato sorbet and mascarpone is a soft, spongy financier cake that is slightly sweet.

The Gimmie S’more is literally like a deconstructed S’More, with one of the most decadent chocolate crèmeux I’ve tasted laying underneath marshmallow ice cream and accompanied by a thin, crisp graham cracker. This selection is a must for chocolate lovers!

My favorite: Although I’m usually not much of a chocolate fan, the Gimmie S’more was on point. It was hard to resist all that velvety chocolate!

Final Thoughts:

There’s definitely an emphasis on using out-of-the-ordinary ingredients on Acabar's dineL.A. menu, and each item has its own fun little unique personality. I also appreciate that there are vegetarian, fish and meat options for both the starter and entrée courses.

Acabar’s setting is just as unique as its menu selection, with vibrantly dark colors and textures adorning the ceilings, walls and hanging curtains. It’s intimate and seductive, a great spot for a date or small gathering.

Where do you plan to go for dineLA Restaurant Week? Let me know in the comments and see you at a participating restaurant soon! 

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