Friday, April 15, 2011
Affectionately known as the Ox, the Lazy Ox Canteen with dishes by Chef Josef Centeno, has definitely captured my food loving heart. So much so, that even though I've only been there once, it's the kind of place that I've given as a recommendation to everyone who's asked me for restaurant suggestions. Speaking of that one time dining experience, it was definitely a fun meal with friends that involved trying a total of 15 dishes. It all started with Toasted Peruvian Corn (aka Cancha) with Spices and Lime. What a nice tart-crunchy prelude to our dinner.
Following the Peruvian Corn came the "Egg" Breakfast in the Shell, which consisted of an egg, very finely diced pancetta, crème fraiche, maple syrup, cream of wheat and green onions,all in an eggshell. The presentation was flawless and I enjoyed the dish's creamy texture as well as the salt/sweet combination of flavors coming from the pancetta and maple syrup.
Next to hit the table were the Bellwether Farms Ricotta Fritters with Saffron Honey. I wasn't that impressed with this dish. While I did like the crispy texture of the fritters, all I really tasted was the honey. It seemed like the ricotta fritter itself didn't have much to do other than being a vehicle for that honey.
Our fourth dish was the Soft Shell Crab with Okra. I have to say that I wanted that dish just because of the okra. It's not a vegetable that usually shows up at most restaurant menus and a lot of people get turned off by the slimy inside texture of the okra; however, the okra on this plate didn't have that texture and was a nice vegetable component to go with the light and crispy soft shell crab.
Next on the menu was the Salmon and Ricotta Rillette with Capers. I wasn't sure about fish and cheese together, but all the ingredients did play nice. I liked the creaminess of the cheese and sweetness of the salmon balanced well with the saltiness of the capers.
Following the Salmon and Ricotta Rillette was the Dashi Marinated Yellowtail with Avocado, Hash Brown and Creme Fraiche. Of everything we had, this was the least memorable dish to me. I don't remember disliking it, but I also don't remember loving it either, but the plate was finished off, so that says something.
What came next made this Filipina's heart beat faster as soon as it hit the table. With pork being a staple in Filipino cuisine, the Pig Ear "Chicaron" with Radish Salad and Lime definitely made me smile. Crispy and crunchy pig ears makes any good meal even better.
From turf to surf with the arrival of the Marinated Anchovies with Piquillo Peppers. A very simple dish that was simply done well. The sweetness of the piquillo peppers married well with the umami flavor of the anchovies and the saltiness of the capers.
After we had our fill of the Marinated Anchovies, a bowl of Braised Beef Lengua Ravioli with Spiced Lebni, Toasted Pine Nuts and Dry Chile came our way. While the pasta could have been a bit firmer, I liked the fact that the beef lengua (aka tongue) was tender and that the lebni gave a nice tartness to the dish.
For those of you who may think of cauliflower as a boring vegetable, you should definitely try the Roasted Cauliflower with Chile, Mint & Pine Nuts. The roasting added a wonderful caramelization to the cauliflower and of course, the chile added a nice bit of ooomph!
One of the highlights of the meal, other than the Pig Ear "Chicaron" was the Pork Porterhouse topped with a delicious gravy and roasted vegetables. This is definitely something that 2 or 3 people could share, depending on how hungry they were. The pork itself was tender and juicy and while I don't know what was in that gravy, it was plate lickable.
Two more savory dishes to go before dessert with one being the Escabeche of Duck Breast and Leg Confit with Whole Grain Mustard and Rice Beans. Normally, I'm a duck person, but there wasn't anything about this dish that that made me go Wow.
Wow was definitely reserved for the Brick Roasted Mussels with Basil, House Made Sriracha & French Feta. Never mind the mussels, I could have just drunk the broth by the bowlful.
After having shared 13 dishes so far, you'd think we wouldn't have room for dessert. Well we did. To take care of our sweet tooth, we ordered the Butterscotch Pudding with Hazelnut Cookie and the Chocolate Pate with Salted Caramel and Dulce de Leche with five spoons. While the desserts weren't mind-blowing, they were still a nice way to end the meal with my preference going to the Butterscotch Pudding.
Overall, after having written this post and reminding myself of how much I really enjoyed that one meal at Lazy Ox Canteen, I think it's time to get my lazy self back there, maybe for brunch this time around.
Lazy Ox Canteen
241 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012