Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gorge: Fighting the Good (Food) Fight

A while back, Beauty Jones and I stopped by Gorge on Sunset.

It's got that perfect storm of elements that appeal to us: cozy, off the beaten path, unpretentious, stacking their investment where it really counts - in the kitchen, with owner/chefs of impressive pedigree - Elia Aboumrad (Joel Robuchon Paris & Las Vegas), and Uyen Nguyen (Guy Savoy, Le Cirque, Fleur de Lys). And it had a name with meaning: Gorge apparently comes from the old war expression, “A la gorge!”,  once an exclamation by French soldiers hurtling into battle, which literally means, “To the throat!”.  The expression was adopted by militant kitchen brigades preparing to give themselves to service. To us that read: thoughtful chefs in the kitchen, good food ahead!

As usual - I tried not to do too much more research beforehand so as to get an as unbiased experience as possible. So we were kind of surprised to step into a cozy little nook that felt in decor a bit like an Irish rural neighborhood pub meets mom & pop diner.  Loved it all the more for offering a casual, relaxed setting for the food that would not be out of place in the finest white-tableclothed, silver-utensiled, multi-award-winning restaurants in the city.

We were greeted by Master Sommelier Darius Allyn, who gave us a tour of the menu along with his recommendations, including wine pairings with each dish. I'm not usually into wine, but Beauty Jones takes annual trips to Italy's wine regions, was just about to leave for the Loire valley, and had just filled my head with visions of lush vineyards and liquid sun/ terroir captured in radiant bottles. And Darius made us feel at home right away, like we were his best customers here for our weekly meal, though it was really our first. There was none of the pretentiousness you may expect from other master sommeliers.  

So we started off with Chicken Liver Parfait ($10) accompanied by cornichons and country bread.  This was an incredibly light, smooth yet flavor rich spread that we didn't want to stop eating, ever.

This was paired (if memory serves correctly) perfectly with a pinot gris.

Then, because we couldn't, and didn't want to, limit our choices on charcuterie/cheese - we went for the platter: Saucisson Sec & Cheese ($29) House dried saucisson sec, Frommage de tete, House pickles, Country bread & GORGE Cheese selection
This was possibly the best charcuterie and cheese platter I've had in LA. Every bite was foodgasm inducing including the sides of pickled romanesco (a veggie that looks like some alien microbe lifeform under the magnifying lens of a microscope), almonds, and housemade strawberry preserves. And yes, you can tell our visit was a while ago, since we were able to get Mimolette on the board. 

For a change of pace, and honestly only because Beauty Jones wanted to try it:
Belgian Endives ($14) Poached in aromatic broth, Served warm, Vanilla bean sauce, Toasted almonds
This was food art - a gorgeous plate that tasted as great as it looks.  I didn't miss my proteins one bit.

Then a terrine for good measure (and because they had me at truffles): Pheasant Terrine ($25) Wild pheasant, Black truffles, Pecans, Potato puree, Organic baby kale salad
This also, like every bite we had before it, was perfect in flavor, texture, temperature, presentation. Taken to the next level with a pairing of Vouvray.

For dessert, there was a choice of different flavors of St. Honore. We went for the Pistachio St. Honore ($10) Pistachio pastry cream, Vanilla chantilly, Pistachio macaron
So deliciously light, with macarons in the true Parisian style - ones that have a crispy shell that yield to airy interiors, that do not collapse into a sticky mess on contact. And if we hadn't both been raised right, would have fought each other for the last bite. 

With the superstar team of women at its helm, it would be so easy and trite, to make this a 'Go Girls!' story - but that would be doing Gorge and its amazing team a disservice. Gorge is simply, the product of true passion and dedication by a trifecta of chefs and sommelier - an amazing still somewhat hidden gem that everyone who loves food and wine needs to experience, asap.

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6.5 bites  
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 5.5 bites
Ambience -  5.5 stars
Service - 6.5 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100% 


8917 West Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Parking: Meters on Sunset Blvd.



GORGE Charcuterie & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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