********THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.********
About two years ago, my obsession with beautiful food started at Ortolan. It was the first full tasting menu I'd ever experienced. It was also the first time I used my DSLR at a restaurant (and it shows -- gotta love the hilarious focus problems and tragic colors).
We were excited to introduce Mama Monkey and Brother Monkey to the place that started my love affair with capturing my meals on SD cards.
Ortolan is plushly decorated and reminiscent of a French palace, but, on Mother's Day, I requested the four-top next to the front window, which has a completely different feel from the rest of the restaurant. It was like dining in a private stone-lined wine cellar.
And, of course, if you're a blogger, this is the best seat in the house with all the glorious natural light.
Ortolan offered a three-course meal for $40 on Mother's Day.
Amuse bouche of chilled zucchini soup.
Complimentary eggplant dip.
Like a cool bean dip that's good for you! Addictive and ladled generously onto our bread...when our bread finally came to us.
Service was a bit of an issue during this visit, which was shocking, given our previous outstanding experience. Our midday waitstaff didn't even know that bread belongs on the plate to one's left. That's a problem that needs to be remedied, Ortolan. Please don't let poor training mar your extraordinary food!
Scallop souffle, ratatouille, basil pesto.
Mr. Monkey proclaimed that the souffle had a consistency similar to that of Chinese fishcake. We all agreed. Really interesting and colorful accompaniments.
Scrambled eggs served in the shell with Osetra caviar ($15 supplement).
Marinated salmon, lemongrass sorbet, ginger, ponzu.
Sushi with a French flair! The portion was extraordinarily generous -- something crazy like 20 bite-sized pieces of fish! Plenty for Mama Monkey to share with all of us.
Quiche Lorraine, bacon, fava beans, green salad.
My classic didn't disappoint. Hot and cheesy and flaky. Mama Monkey liked it a lot.
Coq au vin, baby potatoes, bacon, fava beans.
Mama Monkey enjoyed this modern take on a traditional chicken dish. Even though it was the weakest of the three mains we sampled, it was still delicious.
Lobster spaghetti, beef jus, white asparagus cream.
Lamb confit, potato gnocchi, tomato confit.
Mr. Monkey was the winner of the best main -- the most tender, most flavorful lamb I've had in awhile, possibly ever. Just fabulous. I wish I had doubled up on this.
Lemon tart, tangerine sorbet, citrus supreme.
Apple tart, vanilla ice cream.
Mama Monkey adored her hot and flaky pastry. Golden, not too sweet, and wonderful.
Chocolate ganache, brownies, chocolate sorbet.
Vanilla honey panna cotta, "strawberry caviar."
Coffee. Note the outstretched pinky. Silly Mr. Monkey.
Your bill comes with a wax seal. Fancy.
A lot of things have changed since the Southern California Junior Bach Festival.
But one thing that hasn't changed is how much we love our Mama Monkey.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. No role is more important.