Venice Magazine / LA Dine-N-Club: Xiomara, A Hollywood Gem for California Cuisine; by Jose Martinez, December 10, 2010
"Veteran chef and restaurateur Xiomara Ardolina has been a fine dining Southern California fixture for nearly 30 year, having opened several successful and popular restaurants in town, starting with The Epicurean in La Canada back in 1979, Xiomara Restaurant in Old Pasadena in 1991, and Xiomara on Melrose in Hollywood in 2003.
"Having recently revamped her Xiomara menu, (she) has switched from Cuban-inspired Nuevo Latino cuisine to savory California Cuisine offering a style of cooking that emphasizes the use of fresh, locally grown produce and allowing young chefs to be creative and innovative...
"And indeed, during our recent visit, our taste buds were pleased and delighted. We started off with the restaurant’s signature cocktail The Mojito, their most popular drink served in very cool looking slanted glasses. Perhaps the more you drink the straighter the glass will look.
"Looking to first sample from the Small Plates menu, we selected the Sweet Potato Croquettes with chili-coconut sauce; the Truffle Risotto with sautéed rock shrimp and shellfish emulsion; the Crispy Pork Belly with roasted Jerusalem artichoke, smoky eggplant puree, crispy kale and pork jus; and Slow Roasted Lam Riblets with pickled green beans, pearl onion, radish and red wine jus. These mouthwatering selections were wonderfully paired with a recommended glass of Merlot.
"The Potato Croquettes are divine little fried balls of sweet potato served with a savory chili-coconut sauce that is just perfect to dip your bread into to help clean your plate. Meanwhile the hearty Truffle Risotto with sautéed rock shrimp and the juicy Slow Roasted Lamb Riblets should both be entrée items because they’re that good. These were knockout favorites.
"From the main menu, we went the Seared Sea Bass with butternut squash consume, sous vide fennel and cracklings, along with the Seared Diver Scallops and mustard glazed sweet breads with Brussels sprouts, caramelized onion, apple wood smoked bacon as our entrees. There were paired with a refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc that really brought out the wonderful flavors or our seafood dishes.
"The Sea Bass, a personal favorite dish of mine, was different than most places; it’s prepared more as a soup almost, and the butternut squash addition is original and extremely flavorful. Although not exactly what I was expecting, it’s a fresh and hearty dish that will delight without guilt. The Scallops were very tasty, but it is a small plate so if that’s all you’re having you’ll probably still be hungry, which could be a good thing if you opt for dessert.
"To finish off our delicious meal, we went with the Budin de Pan, the decadent soufflé chocolate bread pudding served warm with Gavina coffee custard sauce that you pour directly over the soufflé once you’ve cut into it (this order takes 45 minutes so plan ahead) and the Mascarpone Cheesecake with allspice crumble and pumpkin ice cream.
"Following the recommendation of our hostess, we opted to slightly tweak our orders and added a shot of Kahlua to our soufflé that really brought out the wonderful chocolate taste, and dabbled a shot of Grand Marnier to our cheesecake that truly elevated the already deadly dessert to a whole new level of indulgence.
"California Cuisine at its finest, a meal at Xiomara, aided by cozy and lounge-like vibe, must be savored to try be appreciated. Do yourself a favor, indulge and enjoy."
LA Dine-N-Club: http://www.ladinenclub.com/dineguide49.html
Los Angeles Times: Xiomara Shifts from Cuban to Budget-Friendly California Cuisine; by S. Irene Virbila, November 25, 2010
" ...Xiomara has recently changed the concept, this time to California cuisine, a first time for her... the new Xiomara doesn’t carry the passion or sense of discovery of the original, but offers solid, well-priced California fare and attentive service ... the energetic Cuban-born restaurateur (continues) to run the dining room, which she does with aplomb, noticing everyone and everything.
"I love sitting up on the mezzanine framed by graceful wrought iron, looking down on the main room with its terra cotta floors and brick walls. Huge arched windows look out onto the street, where a few sidewalk tables are set under an awning. From above, you can see the tables of other diners as a decorative element, their plates and wine glasses arranged on crisp white tablecloths.
"...Every few minutes you can hear the whir of the machine that extracts the fresh sugar cane that goes into the mojitos, the best in town.
"The new menu is both user-and budget-friendly …. That’s a good thing, separating Xiomara from pricey special occasion restaurants. As for the food, it’s easygoing California cuisine that relies on fresh and seasonal ingredients..."
" (Xiomara's new) menu includes some strong starters. Juicy red heirloom tomatoes make an appealing salad with pale sliced hearts of palm and basil. Crinkly, crunchy Little Gem lettuce is tossed with bacon, blue cheese and kalamata olives in astutely balanced lemon-shallot vinaigrette. A heap of creamy burrata comes not with the usual tomatoes, but with mushrooms a la grecque. An unusual idea, but it works.
"Soups are generally good, too. It could be pumpkin or, the other night, a lovely potato and leak puree garnished with Tuscan cabbage and fried onions. Another good choice is the tiger prawns fried in beer batter so gossamer it’s barely there, all the better to taste the garlic aioli and sweet red pepper puree."
"Meat-happy carnivores are going to go for the lamb riblets, slow-roasted so they’re all crunch with a sticky sweet sauce cooked deep into the meat. Crispy pork belly will appeal too, its richness nicely set off by roasted Jerusalem artichoke and a smoky pureed eggplant.
"Mains are more straight-forward, but thoughtful accompaniments are a bonus. With seared scallops, heirloom beans (are served) in their cooking juices. This combination somehow makes sense: earth and sea. Moist pan-roasted chicken breast comes with a late summer succotash and chanterelle mushrooms.
"Ardolina made what must have been a tough decision to give up her Cuban-accented nueva Latina cuisine for tried-and-true Californian. But she’s made the transition with typical grace and style, aiming to turn her namesake restaurant from more of a special-occasion place to a neighborhood fixture. Yet underneath it all is something ineffably Cuban, which comes out in the warm service, that buttery bread and at lunch the Cubano sandwich upgraded with Black Forest ham, slow-roasted pork and Swiss Cheese."
Los Angeles Times: First Bite – Gastropub Sans the Pub, or Xiomara Reconsidered; by Jonathan Gold, November 3, 2010
"Xiomara shed its accent and turned into a California bistro, a bit less sleek this time, but also grounded in modern French cooking and geared toward small plates.
"The dishes ... are congruent with the farmers-market-tinged cooking you find at places like Lazy Ox and the Yard, things like pork-stuffed squid with shell beans in a garlicky romesco sauce; crisp pork belly with sunchokes and a smoky-charred eggplant puree that makes the concoction taste like bacon; and lamb ribs with pickled green beans.
"The braised pork chop with pancetta, kale and pork is beautifully balanced for a dish that is essentially pork-on-pork-on pork, and the seared sea bass with butternut squash and a fried crisp of its skin is a preparation that would have been a standout even at Sona.
"It’s odd to think of a 20-year-old restaurant as a promising newcomer, but Xiomara is again a restaurant to watch."
For reservations call 323.461.0601
- Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am - 3:00pm
- Dinner: Mon-Thurs, 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri-Sat, 5:00pm - 11:00pm
- Closed Sunday