Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Celebrating Mother's Day at Ortolan


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.
Most of 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.
We enjoyed some fresh orange juice and unsalted and salted butter with bread.

Amuse bouche of chilled zucchini soup.
Test tubes are fun! A tasty whimsical start.

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).
Incredible. Light and airy yet oddly substantial. Wish it had been the size of an ostrich egg. Best first course. Lucky Brother Monkey.

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.
BroMo and I opted for this visual masterpiece. Lobster with beef? Enveloped in tightly coiled spaghetti? Drizzled with asparagus cream? It sounds bizarre, but it was rather dreamy, not to mention incredibly fun to eat. Those bright green spheres? Teeny-tiny balls of pasta! I thought they were peas and was so surprised!

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.
Mr. Monkey loved his dessert so much, which was no surprise because he is loony for lemon. Sour upon sour upon sour in a good way. Awesome motherpucker.

Apple tart, vanilla ice cream.
Mama Monkey adored her hot and flaky pastry. Golden, not too sweet, and wonderful.

Chocolate ganache, brownies, chocolate sorbet.
Eat your heart out, chocolate lovers! Brother Monkey inhaled this. My small part of a wafer was yummy, and he said every component was excellent.

Vanilla honey panna cotta, "strawberry caviar."
My pick! You know that I heart panna cotta, and I'm mad for molecular gastronomy. The strawberry "caviar" was sort of like minuscule pink boba. Totally cute.

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.


  1. Love the Bach Festival picture!

  2. the pink "caviar"...soooooo cute!

    love the last two pics especially :-).

  3. I am surprised at everything! So creative and so nice. Are those strips pasta in the lobster and beef dish?

    After I saw your photo of the Bach festival, I should have taken a picture at a sonata festival I went to last month. :)

  4. Aww, you look so much like your mommy.

    You forgot the most important part! The chef/owner opened Ortolan with his wife, 7 of 9 ie. actress Jeri Ryan. Hehe.

  5. aawh looks like such a great mother's day meal!

    what were the green things in the quiche lorraine? and that lobster beef jus pasta deal looks so interesting!

    love the family pics :)

  6. oh my gosh, talk about a gorgeous meal! Everything looks amazing, as always.
    1) you're freaking GORGEOUS!!!
    2) You have a beautiful family
    3) I do that stupid thing with my pinky too, I can't control it!

  7. I usually choose savory over sweet and that lamb looks to die for!

  8. everything looks scrumptious, but i am dying over the lobster pasta (the coiled presentation is KILLING me) and the too-cute pink caviar. yum!! beautiful family photos, too. :)

  9. Drool-worthy meal. Love the photos at the end!

  10. Those are some nerdy looking mini-Monkeys. :)

  11. Looks like a great way to celebrate Mama Monkey. <3

  12. What beautiful food and a beautiful family! I love the "yesterday" and today pics. precious!

  13. I'm dying over the lobster spaghetti picture. Looks like it was fun to eat. I'm amazed that the spaghetti was coiled so perfectly. Wow!

    The strawberry caviar pic did look like tiny, pink boba to me... Boba... gaah! lol

    The end of your post made me tear up. Loved it.

  14. I'm still not over my bad experience at Ortolan (even though that lobster spaghetti is calling my name), but am glad that all of your trips there have been great!

  15. Holy crappy.....lobster beef juicy goodness!

    And I so cannot believe you insist they place your bread on the proper side. Hee hee.

  16. what an awesome way to spend mother's day! mama monkey is too cute sipping away on her test tube o' soup!

    also, i am LOVING all the natural light! my absolute fave is of bro mo's dessert. what a GORGEOUS shot of a gorgeous plate!

    btw, what kind of lens are you using for your pics? and any chance you'll be hosting another class on food photography? thanks!

  17. Really pretty food. Nice looking family! Mama Monkey must be so proud to have you two as kiddos. Love the blast from the past picture. Hee hee.

  18. Aww, you guys are such a cute family!!!

    And pink caviar?? Totally SQUEEEE-worthy!

  19. CUTE! And yeah, I must go to Ortolan. Nice job on requesting the "window" table!

  20. i can't believe i've never been to Ortolan and I have worked next door for 3 year! looks fantastic i'm going to have to give it a try now :)

  21. awww you guys are cute! i love moms. they are the best....dads don't be jealous. the food looks great and that chocolate dessert...omg.

  22. lamb and gnocchi together? mmm.
    LOVE the bach festival picture.


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