DineLA Restaurant week is upon us. Last night I tried 3Twenty Wine Lounge on La Brea with a friend and we were both delighted with the $34 menu and the wine tasting experience.
We had to wait a few minutes for our table, and Edgar, the owner, came over to apologize to us personally and gave us a complimentary taste of a Chablis. We only waited 15 minutes to be seated and were having an incredible time busying ourselves with the wine selection. Edgar explained to us that the wine dispensers were handmade in Siena, Italy and took 6 months to ship to the restaurant. Since he has subterranean argon gas lines underneath the space, he can offer pricey bottles of wine as they stay preserved for 4 weeks at a time.
Our favorite was a Dutton Goldfield Zinfandel that came from a vine over 100 years old, with unimaginably deep roots. Only 197 bottles were made and I'm thinking I should go back to buy them all.
We ordered the truffle fries from the Specials Chalkboard as we perused the options for our 4 course dinner. They were bistro style shoestring fries and had the truffle notes we craved. We were happy to munch on them as we sipped our exclusive and beautifully complex glasses of wine.
The tiger prawns were wrapped in bacon and drizzled in paprika oil. They were a little on the salty side but that's what you get with bacon.
Fresh roasted red and orange beets with blue cheese crumbles and a lemon vinaigrette. The salad looks like one we've all had before, and the picture was snapped several bites in, but just one forkful and you would be surprised. There were pecans coated in cumin, and the aroma was so overpowering that the salad tasted like a NYC taxi cab at first, but the flavor was so enticing that I couldn't put the fork down. It's always fun to be surprised, and this was a good one.
The pea and pecorino bruscetta was phenomenal. The pureed peas were sweet and creamy and tasted so much like fresh Spring flowers I almost dabbed some behind my ears. And pecorino is such a pungent, flavorful cheese that it was a special treat to have it melting and bubbling on top of the sweet pea bruscetta.
The signature butternut squash soup with lardons and paprika oil was light for this kind of soup. It was more like a bouillabaisse with it's broth-like consistency and you could slurp it from the spoon if you felt like annoying your date. Or dip your bruschetta in for a gourmet take on grilled cheese with tomato soup. As if you didn't know about that American cult classic.
Skillet steak with Roquefort butter left one of those indelible impressions on me that I will not soon forget. I plan to return here frequently for this perfectly medium-rare slice of heaven. The red meat was so tender that our steak knives just sat by our sides, gleaming in the soft light, tossed aside and useless, like yesterday's news. And the butter! The icing on the cake. With the irrefutable bold flavor of Roquefort mixed in, the butter was tangy with the strong taste of this blue cheese, and yet still buttery and delicate. The goodness is an outrage. I mean, how are we supposed to continue on every day, knowing that the skillet steak is waiting for us at 3Twenty, ready to melt in our mouths in a matter of moments? It just isn't fair.
The Diver sea scallops with roasted asparagus was another honorable mention. The scallops were sizeable, succulent and sweet. They were almost raw in the middle, so their sweetness was impossible to miss. I was happily relieved not to have another overly buttered scallop on my plate. So often scallops are sauteed in so much butter that these spongy little mollusks soak it all up until they become nothing other than tiny pockets of butter themselves. Of course, it's hard to hate on butter, but it can be disappointing when fresh sea scallops are too rich to enjoy their natural sweetness. These were large, and far from drenched in too much oil or butter. They were astoundingly good and their freshness was enhanced with a light drizzle of parsley pesto.
The vanilla gelato arrived with a warm and lumpy chocolate chip cookie. The gelato was slightly melted so that it was soupy around the edges of the ramekin, which is exactly the way I like it to be. The temperature of the gelato was ideal for immediate consumption, and so was the cookie which was brought over straight from the oven. It left such a scent trail of fresh-baked-cookie-goodness that the tables next to us signaled the waiter to ask him what the dessert was. Funny the power of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.
The other dessert was a petit four made with marzipan and orange peel. It was coated in a white chocolate and the inside was the crumbly and moist almond paste known as marzipan. I was not in the mood for orange peel but I am sure many others loved it as an apres-dinner palette cleanser. The small dessert was bursting with orange peel zest.
The dinner menu was $34 a person and I was baffled at the quality of every dish. The paintings on the wall weren't my cup of tea, so I focused on my glass of wine instead. The food and service are the kind that I can appreciate regularly. This DineLA deal is definitely worth it.