It’s France and Argentina… but This Time on a Plate

With spring supposedly around the corner, you’re probably beginning to feel a bit of wanderlust. And if you’re not able to jet off to Paris or down to Buenos Aires, don’t fret, you’re able to get a taste of those exotic destinations right here in L.A. 

Juliet is the latest dining offering from the team that brought you Margot and Norah, and pays homage to contemporary Parisian cuisine. The seafood-forward restaurant opened last month in Culver City for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Tartare et Caviar at Juliet (photo by Scott Bridges)

The cocktails are a gateway into Paris worthy of the Arc de Triomphe. A couple of refreshing options include the Champagne Cocktail #1 composed of brut, Lillet rosé, raspberry tangerine and the Champagne Cocktail #2 with brut, gentiane and lemon. For something with a bit more heft but equally as French, the Mon Coeur is a smooth mix of cognac, rye, benedictine and cherry.  An exclusive for bar patrons is access to the Martini and Champagne cart, offering a rotating daily option of each. 

Menu highlights include Cigares de Confit de Canard, tightly rolled duck confit served with sauce valois; Poisson Cru, thinly sliced amberjack, in meyer lemon ponzu and chili oil; and Cotes d’Agneau, a trio of grilled lamb chops, olives and fennel pollen. 

Dessert options include the requisite Assiette de Fromage, a selection of cheeses; Madeleines au Beurre Noisette, soft, warm brown butter madeleines and salted honey chantilly; and Gâteau au Fromage, a delicate creme fraiche cheesecake with passion fruit gelee. 

Madeleines at Juliet (photo by Liz Barclay)

Of course, any respectable French-inspired establishment demands a wine list that reads like a wine country tourist guidebook. There are about four dozen wines available by the glass and in several pour sizes from a carafe down to a single ounce, which allows for a good deal of sampling. 

As with everything at Juliet–from the friendly and knowledgeable service right down to the stemward–the attention to detail in the design of the indoor-outdoor space is exquisite, providing a low-decibel, candlelit, blissfully romantic setting.

After reluctantly saying au revoir to France, let’s head back across the Atlantic for some modern American cuisine… but with an Argentinian twist. This week, SUR danced to the beat of a different rhythm, the tango, offering diners the opportunity to experience the legendary grass-fed beef of the pampas. The West Hollywood hot spot was one of a trio of local restaurants bearing the good news from south of the equator.

Argentine Filet Mignon, sauteed spinach, roasted veggies at SUR (photo by Scott Bridges)

Argentinian pride has been on full display all over town ever since the team won the World Cup (defeating France, coincidentally) and some local restaurants are getting into the spirit, revamping their menus and serving up skirt steaks, tenderloins, rib eyes and New York strips.

There’s really no secret to Argentinian beef, the cattle are raised in endless pastures primarily feeding on grass. Their strict standards prohibit the use of growth hormones, as well as fertilizers and other industrial agro-chemicals. As a result, the beef is much healthier, with lower fat and cholesterol levels, as well as higher amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. And when the beef is healthier, by extension, so too is the beef eater. 

The Pink Room at Sur (photo courtesy of SUR Restaurant & Lounge)

Food writers all over town (including the globetrotting editor of this here site) have been taking the opportunity to experience the privilege of enjoying a rare piece of meat, or in this writer’s case, char-rare. Executive Chef Nicolás Medina is taking full advantage of the moment, showing off his finely honed skills in the form of a filet Mignon worthy of a condemned man’s last meal. Served over a bed of sauteed spinach, the palm-sized cut of beef is as juicy as a citrus fruit and as tender a piece of flesh as, well, choose your own favorite metaphor. 

Sur is also showcasing the beef in empanada form, but the nuances are not quite as articulated as in steak form. But in case you’re worried about getting too beefed up in one sitting, the ceviche offers a tangy alternative. Pair it with a glass of yellow-label Veuve Cliquot or a sugar-rimmed Sidecar cocktail to keep your taste buds in the zone. And polish off the meal with the rich, custardy flan paired with a snifter of cognac to properly close out a memorable meal that you’ll be talking about for weeks.  


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