Beautiful Californian Cuisine: Kali, Larchmont LA

Kali is this cute little restaurant tucked away on Melrose in Larchmont. You definitely need to know about it as it is unlikely you’d just stumble upon it. So, if it wasn’t already on your list, you’re welcome 🙂 I think I heard about it when I first moved to LA but I hadn’t gotten around to going. Thankfully, some friends picked it for dinner so I could finally get a chance to try it.

My recommendation: go prepared to eat, wear stretchy pants! And make sure you take friends who are willing to share so you can taste lots. Luckily, that is just the sort of friends I have. The menu is not huge, so you can really get a good taste of what they are offering with a few friends.

Everything was presented beautifully, and they course it out well, which I like. I have found a few places lately not coursing well which frustrates me. So what did we get?

We started with:

  • Yellowtail crudo which comes with some radish and a really exquisite basil-mint citrus broth. This dish is both light and flavourful at the same time.
  • Green asparagus spears. These were huge!! You know how some times really big asparagus is a big tough and fibery? It was nothing like that. Almost like a kohlrabi texture. Very cool. It was served with a lovely herby sauce. Yum. I think this was my favourite, because the texture of the asparagus was so good

Next up was our carbs:

  • Black barley “risotto”. Wow, this was great. The texture was amazing and the flavour was super rich, but not in the way that left you feeling heavy. They make it with this fermented black garlic tea which tastes so good. My friend JP tells me that this restaurant has the most amazing larder, with heaps of their own pickles veg and lovely concoctions.
  • Spring pea agnolotti. I love spring peas! You do not see them on the menu enough in LA. I don’t know if it is because of the heat or what, but I miss them. This dish was lovely. Light with the mint, ricotta and hazlenuts all working perfectly with the pea.
  • Sea Urchin Pasta. I thought this was going to be a heavy dish, maybe it would have been if I was eating it as my sole dish, but shared out with everyone, it definitely wasn’t. It’s a great, simple pasta dish with spaghetti, breadcrumbs, ricotta whey and the sea urchin which was wonderful. I was worried about it doing a really fishy kick, but it didn’t.

The meats:

  • Sheephead fish. I had never hear of this fish before. It is apparently an ugly ass fish which has human looking teeth and when it dried out looks like a sheephead. BUT, it delivers a lovely dish when cooked. They paired it with some dried cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts and lovely smokey bone broth. It’s one of those dishes where you want to make sure that that you get a little bit of everything on each forkful.
  • Ribeye. HUGE! Ok, maybe not by American standards, but I thought it was. We got the 16oz one and it came served with tender stem broccoli. The steak was so tender it was amazing. Cooked to perfection, and not overly fatty. I don’t like eating big pieces of fat, it turns me off the meat. There was no problem with this beautiful piece of meat.
  • Spring lamb shank. Wowwow, wow! I am not a lamb person and I liked this one. That’s how well done they did it. The lamb was super soft and had been pulled off the bone with these beautiful cherries. Over the bone they had a made a falafel. I am a huge falafel fan, and this was a nice touch. I am calling this the best dish, because it turn a minimal lamb eater into a big fan.

As you know, I am not a big dessert person, but I do like to have a spoonful of them, so I like it when other people are into them.

  • Rice pudding. You don’t see this much on the menu! It was nice, but I just don’t think I am that much of a rice pudding person. There was a kind berry sorbet and a crunch that I think came from some puffed rice and a bit of meringue.
  • House made gelato. We got the full explanation of how this was made, but I honestly wasn’t listening. I do know, it was lovely and creamy with a little saltiness to it, which probably came from the salt cured egg yolks that were grated over the top. It was good.
  • Donuts. Can you go wrong with a donut? These were very good. They were with a citrus curd, which I really liked.
  • Smoked bone marrow flan. WHAT?? There was no way we could go past this! A meat dessert? It was not to a few people’s tastes, but I was intrigued. This was a 2 spoon dessert for me and I still don’t truly have my head around whether I liked it because it was so unusual or because it was actually good. The flan part itself had a great texture, and then you had this weird almost smokey bacon taste to it. Mind blowing.

They finish up the meal with chocolate truffles. They were very good to American standards, but I just can’t get on board with America chocolate.

Something else that is important to note is they have a good wine list. It’s separated into 2 sections: tasty, well priced, normal people wine and fancy wine. The sommelier will give you good advice, but after trying several, I am confident there isn’t a bad wine on the menu.

After dinner we popped down the road to a super cute cocktail bar called Pour Vous. Apparently you are supposed to reserve on a Saturday night, but they were kind enough to let us in for a drink. It’s a Parisian-style bar in an incredibly interesting space (there’s a train carriage out the back). I don’t know if they do it every night, but Saturday’s are burlesque. Great, old school burlesque, the girl came down from the ceiling in a giant birdcage! This bar is totally worth a visit.

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