Venice Magazine / LA Dine-N-Club:
Xiomara, A Hollywood Gem for California Cuisine;
by Jose Martinez
"Veteran chef and restaurateur XiomaraArdolina 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