Monday, November 23, 2009

Canelé: Just like home

We needed someplace quiet. Someplace where we could talk with ease – like we would if we were just hanging out at home.

We didn’t want a scene. We didn’t want a hot spot. We wanted a local treasure – a place where friends gather, where couples go for a mid-week date night, where the chaos that so often defines Los Angeles doesn’t exist.

Canelé, the humble Atwater Village restaurant with my most beloved French toast, was the first restaurant that came to my mind for the occasion in question – a planning meeting for the EAT MY BLOG charity bake sale to take place Saturday, December 5th at Zeke’s Smokehouse BBQ. We – Cathy of Gastronomy Blog, Anjali of Delicious Coma, and Laurie of G-Ma’s Bakery, and I – had much to discuss and didn’t want to be distracted by a cacophony of noise or the incessant “like’s” and “totally’s” of two aspiring actresses.

Canelé was the answer. It was the place.

Tucked away at a corner table for four toward the rear of the homey restaurant, Cathy, Anjali, Laurie, and I were free to ramble on about dot stickers, table linens and the baked good drop-off protocol sans interruption. Except, of course, to order. And take photos. And eat. (Kind of the point of going to a restaurant.)

Canelé’s seasonal fare is fitting for its sweet honey-lacquered space. It’s comforting, cozy – the type of food one might actually get at Mom and Dad’s house on a crisp fall night. Roast chicken with corn cake, oven-roasted pork chop with small potatoes, beef bourguignon with buttered noodles – it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, but is nevertheless thoughtfully prepared

On this particular evening, I opt for the persimmon salad with pomegranates, arugula and shaved parmesan ($11) to start, and the duck confit with parsnip mashed potatoes, red cabbage and plum sauce ($20) for my entrée. The salad is a farmer’s market affair – the kitchen is clearly taking advantage of the fall fruits that are currently in their peak. It’s clean, fresh and neat, and proves to be a prescient order given the heaviness of my second course.

The duck confit is a well-executed version – the crisp skin providing the proper textural juxtaposition for the tender dark meat underneath. I find ample pleasure in pulling it apart and mooshing it into my parsnip puree and supple cabbage. It’s not the type of thing that would appeal to my friend Ali who hates when her sides and protein touch, nor is it particularly couth of me to eat it in this manner, but I don’t feel my behavior is imprudent in the restaurant environment. It’s what I would do at my own dining room table – except with salmon and edamame mash since I’ve yet to attempt duck confit.

I finish with a special dessert that evening – a spice cake with poached pear and marscapone. While I was expecting something less overtly sweet, I am smitten with the marscapone that someone with a heavy hand has heaped in the center of the dense cake. It’s not a dessert I would crave, but is one I would surely accept should a sweet-faced relative offer it to me during a family dinner.

Cathy, Anjali, Laurie, and my meal at Canelé was exactly what we needed it to be that evening. We left satisfied – proud of the work we accomplished over our two-hour meal, and satiated by the soul-warming dishes. Mom would approve. Especially since the hostess didn’t let us leave empty-handed – we each received a mini canele for the road.

3219 Glendale Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90039


Gastronomer said...

Canele was truly the perfect meeting spot. Have you picked up some little dot stickers yet? HOT PINK, please.

yutjangsah said...

I think i now know what canele is about. Thanks Di. It looks like solid and reliable food. I must try their french toast!

Anna A. said...

Amen to Yut's comment. I love that persimmon salad - I may just have to whip one up on my own, funemployment style. Great Fall colors. Go on with your bad sweater-vest wearing self. This is to make up for me mocking you in the previous entry ;)

Esi said...

That cake sounds great...even if it was very sweet, that scoop of mascarpone surely helped.

Diana said...

Cathy - No dots yet - just exceedingly adorable wrapping paper! ;)

Sook - The French toast will change your life. And if it doesn't, my name is not Diana Takes a Bite.

Anna - I stand by my sweater vest!

Esi - I think I'm in love with marscapone - yum!

Burp and Slurp~! said...

Wow. That place looks absolutely delightful! The dishes are so artistic, and hit the spot!

weezermonkey said...

Rawr. Feed me. This.