Tonight at another outing with fellow bloggers and foodies we dined at Butcher's Dog a new only 6 week old pub in Little Japan aka Jtown on Sawtelle. It's a gastro pub serving bistro style food, REALLY! There are so many pubs and bars trying to serve a bit more upscale food these days but it's not what you serve it's how you execute it and they are doing it right.
As some of you may know I am a classically trained chef. Now I'm not sure what most people look for in their dining experience but when I eat it's not what you give me that I fall in love with it's the details. The techniques used in the cooking and if they were executed it right.
This is why I fell in love with Butcher's Dog. Every single item I had was executed properly. They didn't try to trick me with fancy ingredients they wowed me with real cooking!
They served us an 11 course menu and there wasn't a damn bad thing I can say, every item on each dish was there for flavor purposes not for wowing purposes. To give you an example of wowing purposes I recently dined at a restaurant that just covered every dish with truffle. Truffle is a strong overpowering flavor you don't need much of it in one dish and certainly not necessary in every course now why would a restaurant do this well to hide all the other things on the plate and charge a butt load of money for it. People who are easily impressed happy with the truffle people like me not so happy, but Butcher's Dog did none of that nonsense it was all properly executed food that only someone with a true palate can create!
We started with chicken Liver & Foie Gras Mousse served in a mini mason jar served with Beet Marmalade, Caper Berry Cornishon and Country toast. The beets had a candied texture that went so well with the foie gras mousse and the tartness of the gooseberry and cornishon, perfection. Now our table of 12 had 4 of these plates and between my fellow blogger friend Jonathan Cao Nguyen and I we polished off 3 of those on our own not cause there wasn't enough but because it was so damn good we couldn't bare to see it go to waste. It was a true mousse, creamy, buttery, airy fluffy perfection! They could have slathered that on anything and I would have been happy, but they had 10 courses to go and 10 more reasons for me to love them!
chicken liver & foie gras mousse
The next two courses were flatbreads - the chicken tikka Masala flatbread and the Brussel sprouts Flatbread. What the heck! chicken Tikka Masala flatbread? that's strange right? No once again it TOTALLY makes sense. What do you eat your masala and curries with? NAAN! So UHM DUH! Chicken Tikka Masala Flatbread! topped with Raita (yogurt sauce) and scallions the creaminess of the yogurt and cool of the cucumber calmed the heat of the spices making for another perfectly balanced meal and the Brussel sprouts flatbread had perfectly rendered bacon, goatcheese, creme fraiche and a balsamic glaze. I don't even have to tell you why that was good THAT says it all!
Tika Masala Flatbread
Brussel Spouts Flatbread
Courses 4 and 5 were the Salads - The chopped Salad - a beautiful version of an antipasto had perfectly dressed garbanzos, artichokes, a chiffonade of radicchio, julliened Salami, Provolone and Burrata a bowl of that will make anyone happy and the Seared Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad served like a wedge Salad on a half Romaine heart. with sliced fingerlings, hard boiled eggs, haricot verts (french green beans) and of course it would'nt be a Nicoise with out the Nicoise olives. Beautiful plating tuna perfectly seared and sliced. again I can not stress on the deatils. Now to have this Tuna look as great as it did I know the chefs knife was super sharp and about this point in the meal I was now also impressed with the chefs excellent knife skills he had given me chiffonade of raddichio, julienne of salami all perfectly cut and the best was still to come on the 10th course there was even tourned veg in the meal and this my friends is no easy thing to do only someone who really cares about the food he's cooking would go through all of that in a pub where you wouldn't expect such excellence.
So on to course 6 Fish and chips at this point already I was stuffed but I had a taste and OMG! It was so freaking good, this is one of those dishes that always sound good to me but I never order it because when it arrives there's always something wrong with it- either the batter is too thick the fish isn't good and almost always it's pretty bland, but this was a golden perfection of light crispy batter and so seasony you didn't need to flavor it with malt vinegar or tartar sauce it was good on it's own and if you chose to add tartar sauce to it that was so good too it's made in house and it's unlike any other I've ever had and the fries were also crispy golden, seasoned deliciousness.
The pan Roasted Salmon Geesh at this point you'd think I would have found something not so great or that I could do without since I was already so full but it just kept on coming and it was all as good as the first course. The salmon cooked perfectly not dry at all and the skin so crispy and seasony I could have had just a plate of crispy salmon skin and been happy. It was served with a little salad of cucumber and tomatoes underneath and when it arrived at our table they poured the gazpacho in the plate bowl. Really, table side service at a pub? Yup, its true!
Then the burgers came beautifully served on brioche buns with a large pickle and side of fries and when you bite into it - its's great quality meat not overworked patties just right, perfect fat ratio seasoned just right and cooked to the proper temp. If I had to and only if I had to pick something wrong with it the spicy one could have been spicier. But hay sometimes chili's are just not spicy they're quite unpredictable. You bite into one not so spicy and just when you think your safe you bite into one that'll make you want to swim in cream.
The Spicy Burger
On to course 10 the cottage pie what is a cottage pie you ask? Is it similar to a Shepard's pie? Why yes it is! The difference is the addition of cheese - By this point after tasting the burger I thought there was no way I could even look at the cottage pie but it came and it was beautiful! Perfectly blanched bright and beautiful vegetables lay on top of it. Now this may sound like a big heavy dish but the potatoes were so light and fluffy and the veg really just made a perfect meal. I dug in with the intention of only tasting a bite and found myself going in for a second.
Cottage Pie made with beef and lamb
Then came dessert the one I had been waiting for. I'm a savory kind of gal so dessert I could do without, but when I saw this on the menu I just couldn't wait and usually when I build something up this much in my head it usually disappoints but it came and it was as good as I wanted it to be. It was hot, sticky, sweet and salty and the cold of the ice cream was a perfect balance of flavors, textures and temperatures. I had a big complaint on this dish - I didn't get enough! I shared it and I wanted more they did what couldn't be done left a full girl wanting more.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
So it's pretty obvious that I loved Butchers dog. That's why I came straight home to write this blog, and why I sit here 3:00 a.m writing about this great meal. Write it tomorrow? I think not I want it all fresh in my mind when I write. I'll be back Butcher's Dog and save me a big piece of that sticky toffee pudding when I do.
But before I go - my thoughts on the name. I wondered why butchers dog? But I now know that the butcher gets to take home a doggy bag of left over bones home as a treat for his dog. So the butcher's dog eats better than any other dog right? We're the dogs in this case the chef is the butcher giving us his best Or at least that's what I think, I'll have to ask on my next visit. Hope to see this business around for a long time and that the passion stays the same forever!