An unseasonably cool summer day at the LACMA is a fine thing. Sitting down to the chef’s tasting menu at Ray’s, now that’s just spoiling me. The interior of the restaurant looked like the pencil drawn fantasy of Italian architect Renzo Piano come to life with a clean contrast of smart red chairs, crisp white tables, a calming blue shell pattered wall on one side and floor to ceiling windows on the other three. The ample sunlight made the room warm and inviting.
I started out with a cocktail; the Owl and Pussycat. Sometimes you see a name and want to order it before you even know what it is. This was a drink that affirmed my whimsy by combining rum with freshly squeezed lemon juice, strawberries and the faintest yet most delicious hint of chili pepper. I wanted to fill oxygen tanks with this drink and use a snorkel to drink them under the sea.
My attention was drawn to a little drawer at my starboard side, which opening revealed my silver. Well, aren’t you a charming bachelor? This knack for pleasant surprises was a constant.
Our sommelier Paul Sanguinetti arrived to explain he would be pairing some wines with our dinner. His affinity for small productions was welcome and well conceived and he was rather pleasant. Mark, our waiter was a curious fellow, in the best way possible. He was very knowledgeable on the menu, a feat considering it changes daily. There was a very dry sensibility to his humor, which I prefer. I couldn’t escape the feeling he had a great secret he was about to tell us. Overall, the crew at Ray’s was amazing. Honestly, these guys could have served me Taco Bell and managed to make it somewhat enchanting.
The first course to arrive was a wonderful salad with nectarines, Marcona almonds, burrata and two kinds of lettuce. This was a perfect starter and a keen demonstration of the farm to table movement.
The follow up was an interesting pairing of octopus and potatoes with a romanesco sauce that was very hearty. The octopus was cooked for 14 hours which made it certainly the tenderest I’ve ever had.
The sweet corn agnolotti was rich and dare I say, perfect?
The veal sweetbreads were very lean, a pleasant surprise as everyone tends to make them so heavy and guilt inducing.
The final course was a more rare than medium hanger steak that was paired with a delightful Bradford Mountain syrah. Bradford Mountain was so good that it will make me think less of other syrah for a while.
With new menus coming out daily at Ray’s I’m a little mad at myself for having not returned yet.
Ray’s and Star Bar
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036