ink.

8360 Melrose
Los Angeles, CA 90069
mvink.com

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Ranked 17th on the OAD 2013 Southern California Dining Survey, ink. is Season 6 Top Chef champion Michael Voltaggio’s first signature restaurant.  Ink. serves what Voltaggio describes as “modern Los Angeles cuisine” and in 2012, GQ magazine named ink. as the best new restaurant in America.  Voltaggio was off for the evening and the kitchen was left in the hands of Chef de Cuisine Cole Dickinson.  Dickinson is no stranger to food television competition either, as he was victorious in the Chopped episode, Mochi Obliged. 

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Ink. has a modern vibe and is clad in grey tones with pieces of abstract decor resembling blobs of ink.  We started off the evening with a couple of cocktails.

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Blended scotch, toasted coconut, Thai basil, cardamaro.  This was a wonderfully fragrant drink with sweet and spicy Thai notes which paired well with the scotch.

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Mezcal, floc de gasgone, celery, lemon, cucumber.  The mezcal had a pleasant smokiness which was complimented by the sweet, sour and fresh notes of the other ingredients.

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Ink. recommends ordering 2-3 dishes per person (we ordered 6 between the two of us).

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Egg yolk gnocchi, mushroom brown butter, hen of the woods.  The eggy gnocchi were filled with a luxurious, well seasoned yolk which burst in your mouth and coated your palette.  The maitake mushrooms were earthy and the miniature croutons added the perfect crunch and garlic accent to compliment the gnocchi.  This was a great way to start the meal, inventive with a wonderful contrast of textures.

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Little gems, burrata, anchovy cracker, lemon dressing.  The lettuce was cold and crisp dressed with a bright, acidic lemon dressing, the nitrogen frozen burrata was sweet and creamy and the chips had good anchovy flavor and added the crunchy, salty element to tie the dish together.  This was a modern yet playful take on the classic Caesar salad.

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Cereal, fried egg, amaranth, goat butter, chicken cracklin’.  The amaranth grains were creamy, the leaves of the amaranth imparted a bright freshness, the cracklin’s were crispy and salty, the egg was rich and the banyuls vinegar added bitterness to round out the dish.  This dish was extremely comforting; it was a perfect dish to warm you up on a chilly night.

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Branzino, roasted cauliflower, caper, fermented grape.  The branzino was expertly prepared, tender flesh with a crispy skin seasoned with a hint of lemon.  The roasted cauliflower chips added another textural element, the puree was nutty and creamy and the grapes provided a perfect burst of juice enhancing the flavors of the branzino and cauliflower.  The play of textures and flavors made this dish my favorite of the evening.

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Potato charcoal, housemade sour cream, black vinegar.  This dish had a nice charred aroma.  The potatoes are prepared in an ink brine cooked until you are left with crispy, salty, tender, charcoal potatoes.  The buttery sour cream and vinegar added the necessary bitterness to counter the salty crust of the potatoes.

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Lamb belly, braised lettuce, mushroom hay, yogurt curds.  The lamb belly was luscious and tasted like pastrami, the mushroom hay was smoky and crispy, the greens added a fresh element and the yogurt added a creamy acid which helped balance the rich lamb belly.

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Apple, caramel, shortbread, burnt wood semifreddo.  The apples were tart, the shortbread was buttery and added great texture, the caramels melted in your mouth and the semifreddo added a salty smokiness to give dimension to the dessert.  This riff on an apple pie was a pleasure to eat.

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Lemon verbena, curd, toasted hay, malt.  The meringue cracker gave good texture and was slightly smoky, the phyllo hay was crunchy, the malt ice cream was cold and rich and the curd was lemony with floral notes.  The combination of flavors, textures and temperatures elevated this interpretation of a lemon meringue pie.

At ink., Voltaggio deftly reinterprets classic dishes, modernizing them and producing whimsical masterpieces through his creativity and technique.  Every dish had contrasting textures and flavors that worked in harmony and none of the ingredients felt superfluous.  Service was excellent as well, our waiter was extremely knowledgeable and accommodating.  We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to a return visit.

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