Bailly was nominated for a James Beard Rising Star Chef in February of this year and participated in the Star Chefs event at the Miramar hotel in Santa Monica in March, both of which raised his profile among the foodie and blogger set significantly. I had been meaning to try his food for a long time and when I realized that my Black Board Eats offer for 30% of a meal at Petrossian was going to expire, I took the plunge and stopped in for an impromptu feast.
My first course was the "Crispy Egg" with cipolini onion soubise (a bechamel sauce with pureed onion), smoked salmon, caviar. It is shown above with the soft boiled egg, which had been coated with panko (Japanese bread crumbs), cut open. I enjoyed the somewhat runny egg, although I would have preferred it slightly less cooked so that the yolk would run over the plate more. The crispy panko, the runny egg, the soft puree and the salty roe and smoked salmon made for a complex but satisfying dish.
My second course was the Napoleon Tartare: hand sliced steak tartare with a layer of caviar in the center and a dollop of caviar on top. This was served with crispy toasts and some greens. The caviar added a nice textural element to the classic steak tartare, by providing the "pop" of the roe in addition to the soft meat and the crunchy cracker. It was a different kind of dish than the more traditional version found at Comme Ca etc. While playful, most times I think I would prefer a well executed traditional tartare.
Last but not least was the Smoked Salmon Pizzette, with creme fraiche, red onions, capers, and generous dollops of caviar. The creme fraiche played the role that tomato sauce would play in a traditional pizza, with the salmon standing in for the cheese. The dish is a take on the Wolfgang Puck classic smoked salmon pizza from Spago, which has been one of Puck's signature dishes since the early 1980s. The salmon was very high quality and the pizzette crust was very thin, like a cracker. The size of the pizzette is large; this dish is meant for sharing. As with the other dishes, it was beautifully presented.
I was pleased to see that the restaurant was full; one can usually walk in as the packed restaurant was unfortunately not the norm. The manager Chris provided excellent service throughout the meal. The space is quite modern and was completely redone last year. Bailly is quite talented and I look forward to trying more of his dishes, particularly if his menu continues to evolve. This cafe is much more than a spot to buy caviar and while it is possible to spend as much on a meal as on a mortgage payment, there are delicious options for sailboat as well as yacht class budgets.
Petrossian: 321 North Robertson, West Hollywood. Telephone: (310) 271-6300. Website: www.petrossian.com