The Other Critics

Vibrila Raves About The Royce; Jonathan Gold Humors The Argentines

It feels like a long time since S. Irene Virbila dispensed with a third star, something she’s done for The Royce today in celebration of the fact that fine dining is still alive here. She’s impressed immediately by the heritage of her lentils in a recipe that embodies “winter and spring in one dish.” In fact, Virbila is on fire here, inspired to do some of the better food writing we’ve seen from her in months, calling beets “funny trolls watching over a field of emerald mâche” and describing today’s hot ingredient market salsify as “dipped into charred leek ashes as if to mimic a model’s smoky eye.” The critic is blown away by the art and precision of David Feau’s seasonal, oft-changing cooking, if not exactly enraptured by the room’s decor, but she does call the $85 five-course tasting menu one of the town’s best deals. Feau’s “cooking has a clarity and finesse. And he’s an excellent saucier,” despite a few foams. Three stars shine in The Royce’s corner. [LAT]

Au contraire, Mr. Gold, aren’t salteñas actually a form of Argentine empanada? queries L.A. Weekly writer Gustavo Turner from down the hall. Mr. Gold counters that he’s never seen the empanada-esque treats in any Argentine restaurants and proceeds to regale us with the well-worn tale of a young girl from Salta, Argentina, whose ghost lives in a well who may or may not have invented the treats and grew up to become novelist Juana Manuela Gorriti. But she never wrote about salteñas in any of her cookbooks, which is curious indeed. So, in the end, no one can confirm if Argentina can rightly steal this staple from Bolivia. Still, Gold researched the matter and we know plenty of pibes and muchos maestros in Argentina who would probably also take credit for the invention of pizza, The Ramones, and Fernet if there wasn’t proof to back up their origins. [LAW]

Jonathan Gold likes his “dan dan mian dialed up to 11,” which sounds more hardcore than Sang Yoon’s mouth-numbing version at Lukshn. He misses Chuan Yu Noodle Town, but then he sees a familiar face at Lucky Noodle House and spies “the very bowl I’d been yearning for, but even better, because it was made with what seemed to be fresh noodles instead of dried, a bowl whose slippery, living texture was finally as intriguing as its 220-volt taste.” Chuan Yu had morphed a few miles down the road into a new, and possibly better, dan dan monster. [LAW]

Los Angeles magazine spies a Russian-owned crepe shop adjacent to Beverly Center called Crepe Republic, where “a range of creative combinations enveloped in supple, superthin pancakes” appeal to crepe-eaters of different types. [Los Angeles]

Merrill Shindler seeks to be transported to a souk when he eats North African food and labels Babouch “our solitary South Bay Moroccan. And it does a very fine job of playing the part,” even if he sounds a little bummed not to be served by eunuchs in billowing pants, with tasseled hats and embroidered shoes.” [Daily Breeze]

Vibrila Raves About The Royce; Jonathan Gold Humors The Argentines