Spago – Beverly Hills & Wolfgang Puck… & Something Amazing Happens

by Franklin on February 1, 2012

Spago is located in Beverly Hills, amongst some of the most expensive restaurants in Los Angeles — Spago is a local icon. More so, Wolfgang Puck is an even larger icon. As a kid, you always heard about Wolfgang Puck, Spago, and how wonderful of a chef he was. Wolfgang is a celebrity, possibly the most famous chef in the world. The guy has a lot of restaurants, many in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I was glad to see Spago on the list of Dine LA restaurants. Getting a reservation was a battle to say the least. The time was now, and I was honored to have eaten at one of his fine establishments. The dinner I had at Spago will be remembered forever. Now, before you judge me and say that I am hyping up the restaurant, the food had little to do with that. Certain items were spectacular, but something amazing happened that night that I will never forget.

Arriving, we didn’t need to wait long. My girlfriend ordered a drink at the bar before dinner. The main floor was adorned with cute pictures and stained glass on the ceiling. The interior was a bit dated compared to the new “hip” restaurants in town, but Spago’s interior design was classic, aged like a fine wine. The outdoor patio was amazingly lit and beautiful. The servers were friendly and accommodating — Everyone said hello and wished us a good meal. It definitely wasn’t a stuffy atmosphere. Bread was served from a tray, and you picked a couple that looked appealing. My favorite were the crisps and the olive bread. This was the beginning of a great meal.

Appetizer: Kona Kampachi sashimi. Each bite of the fish was few, but delicious. The crispy rice crackers on the plate tasted like crispy fried pork skin with a hint of sesame oil. The pickled dragon carrots were tart and sweet — it helped cleanse my palate. The most interesting was the tosa soy gel and yuzu air. It was a kind of a gelatinized soy sauce. The fish in itself was fresh and pure so it didn’t need much of the sauce.

Appetizer: My dungeness crab risotto was a bit off. I couldn’t help but think the texture of the risotto was too grainy. The sauce was also off as it wasn’t starchy enough. Despite that, the Spanish saffron and squid ink vinaigrette tasted very good with it.

Main: I had the roasted kurobuta pork loin and braised pork belly. It came with roasted brussels sprouts and puree of butternut squash. The pork loin was cooked perfectly, without an ounce of dryness. The sauce accompanied by the pork was rich and earthy, almost like a mushroom and onion reduction. The star of the dish was the pork belly. Rich in fat, each bite melted in my mouth. It was sticky and gelatinous, and the flavor was perfect.

Main: The pan seared Maine diver scallops were cooked perfectly. I always thought food came in odd numbers — 1, 3, 5. I was a bit confused when there were only 2 scallops on the plate. Either way, the scallops couldn’t have been better. It was nicely done inside and out, and had a silky, buttery texture. The confit fingerling potatoes, hazelnut brown butter, parsnip puree and mache salad all came together to make this dish very special. Dish wise, this one was better than the pork. Item wise, the pork belly took it.

Dessert: The dessert came in a trio. Instead of picking one of the three, you got all three! Though each item was small, it was nice to have tried all of them. The Candy Apple had honey poached fuji apples on top of a salted pretzel puff pastry. It was served with a Tahitian vanilla ice cream. The chocolate bar had a triple layer chocolate caramel cake. It was topped with crispy cracker jacks and chocolate caramel truffles. The sticky treacle upside-down cake had warm golden syrup toffee sauce and a thin slice of grapefruit. My favorite was the chocolate caramel cake. It was nice to see cracker jacks, an every man’s food, at such a non every man’s restaurant. You also can’t go wrong with chocolate.

Spago’s Dine LA menu was wonderful. The food was classically prepared and the atmosphere was friendly. My meal was delicious, but will I remember it my whole life? Maybe, but I will remember this experience. I mentioned in the beginning that I will remember this time forever. That is because something out of the ordinary happened.

After our dessert was finished, we waited for the check. The waitress came to our table and explained to us that our check was covered by the gentleman behind us! In shock, we just looked at each other with confusion. He didn’t leave a name or a card or anything. He was just an anonymous (though not quite) person who wanted to be generous. We are talking Spago here, not some free lunch or pizza — I’m sure our bill was pricey. Out of the goodness of his heart, he felt generous and paid for our meal, tip, tax and all. I think even the waitress was in shock as she didn’t quite know how to tell us. I was just lost for words. This stuff never happens to anyone. I kept asking myself who would do such a thing?  We were truly blessed that night. It made me want to be a better man. I wanted to be generous. I guess good acts are indeed infectious. I did mention that the gentleman who paid for our check was anonymous. That is not quite true. As I was taking pictures from my seat, I did snap a picture behind me, as the kitchen was there. In that picture was that gentleman.  Little did I know he would end up generously paying for our meal.  The picture is a bit blurry, but he isn’t so anonymous after all. I chose not to share the picture because I’m sure he would have wanted to be left anonymous. If by chance you are reading this blog post sir, thank you for your generosity!  And of course, thank you Spago for an unforgettable meal.

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