I thought it would be worth it to try Chef Louis Kim's debut restaurant because I'd heard it was Italian fare with Korean influences. I followed the buzz and bee lined straight to BH for a taste of something new.
I walked into the empty restaurant, and it took me a minute to adjust to the scene. I swear I heard the dull sound of crickets chirping and had to snap myself out of my disappointment, which was only made worse by the cookie-cutter cuteness of the decor. Had someone come here in advance to prep the space for some kind of cheesy, by-the-books, marriage proposal? or maybe a bridal shower? Why was Frank Sinatra blasting over the cushioned banquets and pastel carnations? Was today Valentine's day?
I chose to sit on the covered patio because it was more dimly lit (as you can tell when the flash is off) and more casual than the dining room inside. I stayed warm thanks to the heat lamps built into the ceiling.
Next surprise, the menu. I expected the dishes to be a fusion of these two culinary worlds. Not so much. Instead, expect entirely Italian fare, with the exception of three Korean dishes.
I ordered one of them. The seafood pancake.
With shrimp, scallop, and octopus in an egg pancake with leafy greens and a sweet and (mildly) spicy sesame dressing, this dish was light and fluffy, but also copious. I enjoyed it enough that it brought me out of my funk.
Next, mussels and clams in a tomato sauce with chunks of garlic and tomato. I am partial to the white wine, butter combination for mussels, but this was better suited for the cold night and was very good. The presentation was clean and modern.
The agnolotti pasta was ﬁlled with a puree of veal, pork and beef and came in a creamy mushroom sauce that could make you weak in the knees. The pasta must have been handcrafted with great care because it was paper thin and practically dissolved away to reveal the delicately smooth puree of the meat. The flavors were your traditionally Italian meat and mushroom, but the texture was new and unique for me. The puree of meat was as soft as ricotta and soaked up the cream of mushroom to create a fluidity of flavors.
The oven baked, salt crusted, sea bass ﬁllet with herb infused pernod was quite a production. The sea bass arrived at the table under a mound of baked salt and covered in sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Our waiter set a flame to the pernod-soaked herbs which was not only nice to watch but also enhanced their lovely scent. After removing the fish from it's salt igloo, we saw it had also been wrapped in sesame leaves. The fish was then served on a plate of vegetables.
After the extensive display of culinary prowess, I was ready for some depth of flavor. The fish was strangely bland after all. The veggies were good but the baby carrots were still crunchy and needed a few more minutes in the steamer.
For dessert was the polenta cake with roasted ﬁgs and poached pear.
There were dollops of fig cream with the polenta and a poached pear coulis on the plate.
The polenta was savory and the cream was sweet so together they were a beautiful balance. The texture was both richly grainy and creamy, which made this dessert really memorable.
I felt the experience was a little too contrived, and it seemed desperate. There are some stellar dishes on the menu, but the ambiance is not my scene. It felt like I had decided to eat at The Grove, but not even the tourists showed up.