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6703 Melrose Ave. (Highland Ave.) Send to Phone
Chef Josef Centeno's signature cooking upholds the legend of this storied Melrose Avenue restaurant space.
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: This Melrose Avenue space has almost become legendary; a previous tenant includes Michel Richard and his restaurant, Citrus. It seems that Tim and Liza Goodell are trying to keep the legend alive with talented young chef Josef Centeno. With designer Sandy Davidson, they've created a stylish, hip venue that has a distinct air of sophistication in cinnamon colored tones. While the ambience is casual, the generously spaced tables provide a sense of intimacy, and a handful of alluring stools along a heavy marble counter offer an unobstructed view straight into the open kitchen---ideal for solo diners. Texan Centeno has trained with Christian Delouvrier, Ron Siegel, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud and David Kinch. He has indeed assimilated his lessons very well, but has completely created a cuisine of his own. He, of course, uses the same basic ingredients as his peers, but it is the way he combines them that is intriguing and makes the magic of the meal. It starts with the black truffle-chestnut soup bouchée, the beef tartare with a quail egg on a bed of rutabaga, the pork rillettes (that don't need to be deep fried) or the light celery soup with sautéed king crab and cranberry sherbet. Watch Centeno and his cooks' ballet preparing the next courses that can be a scallop on scallop pancake with caviar and crème fraîche; clams with a black tea sauce; or beef short ribs with a top quality (which is rare) abalone steak covering them. We also like the squab au foie gras, and the New York strip with bone morrow tempura and sweetbreads. The meal is not over yet since you do have to make a voyage into the dessert menu with the pineapple sherbet and orange soda, the tapioca crème brûlée or the chocolate tart. No wonder Centeno made our list of Rising Chefs 2005. Short wine list from around the world on which, for once, we find Krug by the glass.

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