Exactly one year ago the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour landed on Maui. It was there that some of America's most sought-after celebrity chefs wined & dined (and cooked) on the Valley Isle for a week. I had the honor and privilege of attended two of the public events. I had recently returned from a trip to LA and was a bit star-struck to see Top Chef Season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio in-person. When I was officially introduced to him I noted that I was in LA recently (where he lives) he replied asking if I tried his restaurants (ink. or ink.sack) a bit embarrassed I replied "no I haven't yet, but will definitely check them out when I return." Well promises kept, I recently visited LA for Grammy week and ink. was top of mind.
Lucky for me I was able to score a reservation at 9pm on a Tuesday night, the night we arrived from Honolulu. The decor is rustic meets hipster with a touch of southern charm. Our table was being set upon arrival and I quickly ordered a craft cocktail from the bar. The waitstaff are all exceptional, extremely friendly, well-educated and hipster-stylish.
Here's how the rest of the meal went.
Cocktails are fresh utilize seasonal fruits and herbs to enhance the natural flavors. I had the "vodka" which was basil, cucumber, lime and elderflower -- it went down like juice. Nice, refreshing and crisp. Everyone else commented that their drinks were dangerously delicious and went down easily. ($14-18)
(Upper left) table favorite - Egg Yolk Gnocchi: French onion broth, appenzeller, tiny croutons. Highly recommended by our waiter, this was everyone else's top dish. The gnocchi was like pasta and had a creamy yolk filling that burst in your mouth upon biting down. The flavors were subtle and the overall experience while enjoying this dish was very comforting. ($15) Salt & Charcoal Potatoes - squid ink marinated potatoes served with house made sour cream and Chinese black vinegar (applied in a tiny bottle dropper). This was just like eating a baked potato with all the creamy, salty and meaty flavors in one ($11).
Street Corn: cool ranch "fortuitous", cotija cheese. This is a great example of hour Voltaggio takes American comfort foods and deconstructs them in an outside of the box way. In the end you get all the same flavors of the classic dish but presented in a new way. The corn was like creamed corn served with a crunchy chip topped with ranch flavors, just like eating street corn with cheese and ranch dust. ($12)
(top) Brussels Sprouts: cider vinegar, whipped gruyere aligot. Pretty basic on the brussels preparation, cooked well and seasoned well the only difference was the cheese dipping sauce - tasty ($11). Flannery California Reserve Holstein Beef - Short Rib 8oz dry-aged 10-14 days. Unbelievable and literally melt in your mouth fantastic! This take on southern BBQ with accompanied dipping sauces (chimichurri and bbq was outstanding). ($39)
We were already full but felt compelled to order at least one thing for dessert. This signature dish was dubbed life changing and the best dessert you've ever tasted and it DID NOT disappoint. The apple pie is phenomenal and almost can't be described as it takes all the components of an apple pie and places them on a spoon in your mouth. Get every little bit and enjoy. Phenomenal.
We saw a glimpse of Chef in the corner and heard he was working on his Valentine's Day menu. Requests to see and take a photo with him were chuckled at and he never came back out. As a celebrity chef we understood that often guests want to see the star and he was busy in the kitchen so we didn't get a picture.
BUT, I gotta say this meal was spectacular. I truly appreciated how Voltaggio took what was once simple American comfort foods, elevated them and the ingredients, then deconstructed the preparation and presentation. Together it creates a mixed tape of your favorite hits but in a new, modern, inspired and innovative way. Well done chef! After five years as being touted as one of Hollywood's hot spots the critical acclaim and near 5-star ratings across the board are well deserved. As Chef continues to grow and expand his recent attempt to convert the menu into more of a steakhouse vibe is a hit and leaves me hungry for more!
Until next time I am in LA (West Hollywood)...
8360 Melrose Ave #107, Los Angeles, CA 90069