“Curtis Stone has brought Australia’s flare for food and flavours to LA in what goes down as one of my greatest dining experiences to date in a city with dozens of celebrity Chefs and amazing restaurants. Who knew the Coles guy was THAT good? Bravo.”
I heard a couple of months ago that spunky Australian Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone opened up a 25-seat restaurant in Beverly Hills to rave reviews and he was personally there to make sure everything goes exactly to his plan.
And what a plan it was–or is. Nothing is left to chance, from the single-fronted front door with nothing more than the signature “M” and a gorgeous lime tree to let those in the know know where they are. To the exquisitely styled and very warm feeling you get when you walk through the door. To the toilets and the gorgeous coconut-scented body and hand lotion. To the “party favour” raspberry tea and copy of the menu left with us as a take-away. To the eclectic china and featuring Australian crockery given to Curtis as a gift by Australia’s Consulate-General in LA the warm and lovely Karen Lanyon. To the fact that the gratuity is added taking the hassle out of that pesky tipping thing that goes on here.
Nothing is meant to be easy
Getting a reservation at Maude’s is not easy. And I have to say that the trouble it caused me was bugging me and I had a nervous feeling about whether this was going to be worth it or not.
In Australia we’re used to stupid booking rules like you must call three months in advance on a full moon when the restaurant is open and someone is there to fill up the next three months’ worth of reservations in 20 minutes. But not here in LA where you depend upon your Open Table account or personally knowing the Maître D’ (usually the later). Click here to book.
What I was stressed about was booking two months in advance not knowing whether we’d be in town, who’d be around and whether we could make the 5:30pm reservation which is the only one I could get for a table (party) of four. First-world problems when you’re stressed about a restaurant booking and being slugged with a $100 cancellation fee if the table is not rebooked.
Alas it all came together: my husband was in town and fellow Australian friends were free to join us. We were on our way.
The first thing we had to do was take in the meticulous styling: modern French Provincial with an enviable collection of old jugs, bowls and champagne buckets. The next thing I noticed, at our table for four, was the table was big enough to accommodate us all really comfortably despite the intimacy of the restaurant. All goes to suggest that rather than cramming in a couple of extra tables Curtis was focused on his aim to provide “equals parts comfortable and luxurious”. And the staff were warm and welcoming, knowledgeable and not at all snooty as you might imagine they could have a tendency to be at such a special place. I imagine this is not an accident and that warm, friendly Australian way shines through so much so you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Melbourne or Sydney.
So not LA
The food. Oh the food. I’m not a food writer but I am an “enjoyer of fine food, restaurants and wine”. I died and went to heaven.
A bit like an episode from Masterchef Curtis chooses a core ingredient and prepares a nine-course tasting menu around that. Our core ingredient was berries–and you’d be surprised what falls into the berry family.
We started with Gazpacho, enjoyed a meticulously prepared lobster that was a textural delight and savoured the crepe with gooseberries, stracciatella and truffle that was one of our favourites for the evening.
Each taste was the perfect size to savour every mouthful and hang on every bite providing multiple orgasms per round–wanting more but being satisfied with what you had. As our friend put it, “there were lots of ‘oh my gods’ proclaimed”.
At the doughnut round (three exquisite round balls one each filled with custard, strawberries and apple) we were satisfied but agreed we could go again.
And as if it was a deliberate strategy out comes the mouth-watering peach melba with berries and “blah, blah, blah”. He had us at that peach melba and we were lost for words, say what you like we had officially died and gone to heaven.
Bravo Curtis Stone. You are pushing the envelope for LA Dining. I wonder if others will follow suit and bring the fresh food and flavours to LA that we miss so much from back home. It is absolutely Ausmerican where LA and Sydney collide to provide nothing short of perfect.
I’ll be on that phone again on the first of next month trying to book a table stressing about whether we’ll be in town and who’ll be around and whether or not I’ll have to forfeit the booking and face the possibility of the cancellation fee.
Except next time I’ll advertise my reservation on Craig’s list as the most coveted and available reservation in LA those in the know would kill to have.
Hail Curtis Stone, the new king of LA dining.
xx It Started in LA xx
Psst: There is no Valet Parking (which I joked would be its biggest fail before arriving there) but there is a parking station right next door and I think you should book an Uber anyway to take advantage of the wine-pairing menu.