Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cube: My new essential restaurant

I’ve run by the restaurant at least a hundred times. I’ve probably driven by it a thousand times. I’ve read reviews, pored over the menu and even suggested it to others looking for a bite in my West Hollywood neighborhood.

Given my proximity and enthusiasm for the charming Italian café/cheese bar/marketplace that imports high-quality food products like a semi-soft raclette cheese from Switzerland, it would seem impossible that I haven’t actually eaten there. I like food. I love Italian. And I adore perusing marketplaces filled with hard-to-find grains like farro and (cough cough) quinoa, as well as tiny jars of expensive oils and specialty jams.

I knew I would love Cube Café and Marketplace before I even stepped foot in the casually hip space on La Brea Avenue last Thursday night – and not just because it has received Tony C. of
Sino Soul’s hard-earned seal of approval. My only fear was that my high expectations were setting me up for inevitable disappointment. In a sense, Cube seemed almost too good to be true – it didn’t seem possible for there to be a reasonably priced restaurant of this quality within walking distance of my apartment. I’m not that lucky – even if I did win the (now seriously out of style) Kate Spade purse at my high school graduation nine years ago.

Despite the rain cloud of hype that was threatening to burst upon my first meal at the restaurant, my dining experience at Cube on Thursday was one of those rare nights when everything clicks. Looking back now, it almost seems a blur – like a distant memory or a dream that didn’t really happen – and not because of the amount of complimentary Prosecco or the bottle of 2006 Barbera d’Asti “Montebruna,” Braida ($44) that we drank over the course of our three hour evening.

It’s no big mystery that I’ve been making
horrible ordering decisions lately. Even this weekend, I made a wrong move at my favorite Pizzeria Mozza when I selected the clam pie for my entrée (I’m still pining over the chanterelles, fontina, scallions, pancetta & thyme pizza). At Cube on Thursday night, however, horrible ordering decisions didn’t seem to exist. Or at least they didn’t for my party of four. Every dish we ordered – which included a formaggi e salumi plate, three shared appetizers, three entrees, three sides, two additional pasta dishes, and four desserts – was a “winner.” Yes, some dishes outshone others, but there wasn’t a single one deserving of a “dunce” hat or a “time out” in the corner.

From the lush pillow of mimmo’s burratta with charred greens, swiss chard, heirloom tomatoes, roasted cipilloni onions, and aged balsamic ($14), to the fork-tender apple balsamic braised bacon with Italian white figs, celery root mash ($12), to the braised baby octopus with charred radicchio, cipillini onion marmelata ($8) that could (almost) rival the tasty tentacles at the big
O Mozza down the street, our appetizers were seamlessly executed. I could continue to wax poetic about the rest of our courses – in particular my tender gnocchi with braised oxtail ragu, red cow parmesan ($13), but it seems beside the point. Plus, there are only so many synonyms for “delicious” and “yummy,” as Rachael Ray knows all too well.

Cube may not have found a place on Jonathan Gold’s list of
99 Essential LA Restaurants this past year, but it has found a place on my essential LA restaurant list – for the flawless service, for the well-prepared seasonally-inspired menu, and for, most importantly, not making me kick myself for ordering the wrong thing. I recommend… everything pictured below. Especially the octopus, braised bacon, gnocchi, and pumpkin ice cream pie. Just be sure to make an appointment with the physical trainer for the morning after.

Cube Café and Marketplace
615 N. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90036
Phone: (323) 939-1148, x.1
Fax: 323-939-5520

Formaggi e salumi plate

Mimmo’s burrata - charred greens, swiss chard, veggies, heirloom tomato, roasted cipollini onions, aged balsamic ($14)
Braised baby octopus - charred radicchio, cipollini onion marmelata ($8)
Apple balsamic braised bacon with Italian white figs, celery root mash ($12)
Ricotta & Kabocha squash gnocchi brown butter, sage, toasted hazelnuts ($9)
Chestnut quadrucci roasted chestnuts, bacon, brown butter, white wine, chestnut honey, pecorino $10/$14
Gnocchi with braised oxtail ragu, red cow parmesan $13/$9
Seasonal greens ($6)
Roasted sunchokes ($6)
Fresh strangozzi with spicy lamb & fennel ragu, pecorino $10/$14
Fall spiced duck breast roasted cauliflower puree, seasonal greens $23
Baked 4 cheese mac and cheese with charred heirloom tomato, truffle salt $8
Cobbler duo Tahitian vanilla gelato - D’anjou pear and blackberry & raspberry $8
Bread pudding & fresh fig compote and fresh cream $8Pumpkin ice cream pie with fresh cream, toasted pumpkin seeds $8
Valrhona chocolate olive oil cake with hazelnut semifreddo, chocolate sauce $8


Active Foodie said...

Oh my we did eat a lot!! But I concur, it was all absolutely delicious. I will definitely be back!

yutjangsah said...

I will have to drop in on this cube business. I've been meaning to for ages but somehow... have never gotten around to it. it's now on my to do list. thanks di.

Anna A. said...

Oh my oh my everything looks and sounds amazing. If you ever want to go back, and I know you do, holler at a Greek woman.

The Duo Dishes said...

How did you manage to eat all that? :) That's a skill! Their little food shop is nice to poke around for goodies too.

Sam said...

No picture of the squash gnocchi? Did I eat that before anyone could?

Sam said...

No picture of the squash gnocchi? Did I eat that before anyone could?

weezermonkey said...

Agree completely. Even my mom liked Cube. :)

Jenn said...

Nice. All the dishes look awesome. I want that Chocolate olive cake. *drool* Adding this to my list of growing places to check out.

Gastronomer said...

You're gushing! It's that good, huh? Well, once I get some new wheels, V and I will have to cruise on over to Cube. You'll have to join us.

Diana said...

Sonja - Seriously one of the best meals I've had in recent memory! I'm so glad we did this!

Sook - Sounds like you've been dancing around it like I had been before Thursday night. Stop dancing... start eating! Feel free to take me with you, stomach sister!

Anna - You would love the lamb dish and the octopus! They are Greek woman-friendly.

Chrystal & Amir - I only took a bite of the other entrees/pasta dishes, and the appetizers split 4-ways were not too out of control. There's no justification for the desserts though. We just wanted all of them. ;)

Sam - It's there! I wouldn't dare skip over that gem!

Sharon - Your review was another reason I was dying to try it out! The tomato as big as a hand!

Jenn - The olive oil chocolate cake was really nice. Not too sweet - very well balanced.

Cathy - You name the time/date and I'll be there. :) Maybe with more toffee...

Esi said...

I heart Cube...everything from the cheese plate to the marketplace is just awesome!

Andy said...

Seriously, Cube is in my top five of LA favorites. I'm lucky I work in the neighborhood! On the occasions that I have to work on a Saturday, I often stop in for lunch! I'd say that I love the desserts most of all, but everything is just so damn good! And everyone who works there is friendly and knowledgeable! You can actually trust them when they recommend something.

SinoSoul said...

To put it in more relatable religious terms - DTAB really wanted to say : "SinoSoul is my ordering savior".

Still, no one has ordered the burger. It's like I'm the only guy who's had a Cube burger (lamb, beef or otherwise). So odd as it's a very nice concoction.

Brooke said...

I love Cube. Sadly, I haven't been in a while (I'm flat broke), but this review makes me want to sell a kidney so I can come visit sooner than later.

Great write up!

Brooke said...

I love Cube. Sadly, I haven't been in a while (I'm flat broke), but this review makes me want to sell a kidney so I can come visit sooner than later.

Great writing up!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

Wow girl you ate a lot! It all looks delish that's a synonym for delicious right ;).