Monday, December 19, 2011

Amuse Your Tastebuds at Papilles

Papilles, a new French bistro opens tonight in Hollywood.  The restaurant is the newest project from Santos Uy, who owns Mignon in Downtown Los Angeles.  Papilles, the French word for tastebuds, is also the name of a bistro gastronomique in Paris that inspired Uy on an April trip in Paris.  On his trip he visited many of the modern bistros that focus on quality ingredients, well cooked food and a greater emphasis on what is on the plate than on the traditional trappings of fine French food.  Rather than bring back a souvenir, he brought back a restaurant.  Try fitting that into your carry-on luggage.

The concept is a prix fixe menu with two choices of appetizers, two entree options and cheese or dessert all for only $28 ($35 if cheese is added in addition to dessert).

Expect to find dishes such as Tahitian Squash Veloute, tahitian squash foam and pomegranate (above) and Braised Beef Cheeks, jus, creamy polenta, roasted carrots and glazed turnips (below).  The soup was one of the appetizers when I sampled the food at a preview dinner.  The warm soup had the essence of squash, with concentrated flavor to go with the intense orange color.  The chef mentioned that he enjoys using the same ingredient multiple ways in the same dish, hence both the squash veloute and squash foam.

The beef was fork tender and just the thing for a cold winter's evening in Los Angeles.  The polenta was creamy as advertised and the carrots provided a pleasing color contrast to the plate.  The jus from the beef flavored everything and was rich and comforting.

Another dish from the small menu was the Trout with red quinoa and beets.  The green sauce on the plate provided another dose of color, which livened up the dish.  The trout was light and mild.

The cuisine is cooked by Executive Chef Tim Carey, who worked in the kitchen at Patina, Joachim Splichal's flagship restaurant in Walt Disney Concert Hall, before joining Uy to open up Papilles.

To finish the meal, diners can choose between desserts such as poached pear or a plate of cheese, like the Spanish Mahon below, served with sliced pear.  The salty cheese and the sweet fruit were a nice way to end the meal and prepare to step outside into the Los Angeles night.

Note that the bread is served in colanders, a whimsical touch.  The wine program is in development and will focus on French natural and biodynamic wines.

Papilles is located in a strip mall in East Hollywood, on Franklin just East of the 101 freeway in the former Raffalo's Pizza.  It is ambitious and is prix fixe only meaning you can't just pop in for an entree or appetizer.  Fortunately the price point is wallet-friendly and the menu is expected to change weekly.

Papilles: 6221 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood.  Phone: 323.871.2086 | Website:

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