The Wallace was my third stop on the 2014 DineLA tour this year. The Wallace has an underlying philosophy that food should be thoughtfully executed, from start to finish, with a focus on stunning preparations that bring out the essence of the ingredients. The Culver City establishment serves locavore, sustainable fare inspired by the seasons.
Look at that drink. Superb. Like I said when I went to Mistral, I judge the quality of a restaurant is by their list of alcohol and their creativity when it comes to drinks. The drink above was OUTSTANDING and called “morning sex”; it had bourbon, chai fennel syrup, passion fruit, lemon, and peychaud’s bitters. The drink was comp0letely whimsical and went with the eclectic feel of the place.
Aaron got a drink called the “fun flask”; coffee infused scotch, cognac, honey syrup, and chocolate chili bitters. He actually wasn’t a fan, but I was… being the good girlfriend I am, we traded drinks. I don’t think I have had infused scotch before, but I am such a fan now. Personally, I loved the cocktail, but I can see how it is an acquired taste.
The Wallace serves small plates, so in the entree section you got to choose 3 of 8 dishes instead of one. Since Aaron and I have similar tastes, we opted to get 6 things of the 8, allowing us to try almost everything. Like most small plate restaurants, everything came out in waves as soon as it was ready.
We started out with the gruyere and black pepper popover, that has Parmesan and chive butter, and the little gem lettuce salad with roasted pear, bacon, pickled shallot, and buttermilk vinaigrette. The popover was good, but not the best I have had. However, the butter was phenomenal. I will have to remind myself to make steak with chive butter in the future. I actually saved the little saucer of it to place on other things we ordered later in the meal.
The salad was divine. I wish it was 4 times as big. I love pickled shallots, and their briny flavor went awesome with the sour fatty dressing and the fatty bacon. But the star of that dish was the dressing. It was one of the best dressings I have every had for a salad. I anticipated a much heavier sauce seeing as buttermilk was a major component. But somehow it was cut down with a perfect proportion of vinegar. My one regret? I didn’t save a hunk of popover to lap up the leftover dressing.
That my friends is caramelized onion and blue cheese dip, with kennebec potato chips. Delicious! I noticed something else on their menu, the bacon marmalade, romesco, melted greens and grilled flatbread, which I am absolutely coming back for after having that little pot of delicious dip.
Charred broccolini is one of my favorite things and their version was excellent. It had a tahini, marinated feta, and dukkah mixture that paired great with the vegetable. But my favorite meatless dish of the night had to be the squash. Honestly, this photo can’t even show you the flavor packed onto that plate. Oh god I need to figure out how to make this. This dish was a roasted butternut squash with curried yogurt, quinoa, cranberry, and pumpkin seeds. That curried yogurt made the dish, tying everything on the plate together. This was my favorite entree of the night.
I don’t often order monk fish, but knowing I could play around with my dishes at The Wallace, Aaron and I went for it. This dish was so unique. It was sort of Thai inspired with a cilantro oil and had these soft white beans. And the whole thing was a little smokey. I think seafood lovers would dig this.
Ahhhh Steak + Frites. A classic and something I love. Aaron and I couldn’t resist. This grilled hanger steak came with sumac and fetta fries, watercress, and charmoula. The portion was also the biggest. I loved the watercress and charmoula accompaniment with the meat; it sort of resembled a chimichurri. The meat was cooked right, the fries crispy. A really good plate of good meat.
The twenty minute cauliflower (see my last paragraph). The flavor profile was similar to the broccolini; charred with fatty accompaniment in the creamy parmesan almond bread crumb and rosemary mixture. Good dish, but it wouldn’t bring me back.
This leaves me with dessert. Which is a touchy subject for me because I was really upset at myself… for not ordering two Salted Caramel Puddings. Here is the thing; the cake was really good. It had candied fruit and a great sauce. It was a really REALLY good dessert. But the Salted Caramel Pudding with Dulce de Leche and whipped cream was one of the best desserts I have ever eaten in my life. EVER. It was perfect. Just a little salty with this almost brown sugar like crumb and thick pudding. Aaron and I were speechless while eating it. It would be impossible for me to explain to you the flavor coming from that little devilish pot. If anything, you need to go to The Wallace for a cocktail and this tiny dessert. It is worth it.
The one downside of the night was a real doozy. My server was terrible. In fact, the service the entire night was terrible (except for the Mairte’D). My waitress, for one, kept dodging us when she knew food wasn’t coming out fast enough, which I thought was weird and unprofessional. You could see her avoiding walking past our table. On three separate occasions, our food went to the wrong table and after it was shuffled around, brought to us. And when all our dishes had been consumed, we still had not gotten our Cauliflower entree. Both Aaron and I sat there for twenty minutes to wait for cauliflower to come out at an extremely ill timed portion of the meal. Aaron was so frustrated he said he wouldn’t come back. I tried to respect the fact out waitress seemed new and the place was busy to not completely skew my perception of the restaurant. Both owners have worked in the hospitality business for years (according to the website), so this issue seems almost inexcusable to me. Despite the deliciousness of the food, I will give The Wallace another try (there are some unforgettable dishes that we had like the pudding), but won’t go back if I experience this again.