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Eating at Scratch Bar LA
04/26/2014 by
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Scratch Bar has been on my radar for a while.  I love out-of-the-box food creations and multi-course prixe fixed menus, and this restaurant had both of those.  It’s relatively new, and it was not even packed at all.  I ventured out here by myself after work, and I’m glad I did for an unforgettable night.

This is #16 of 52 on my 2014 LA food expedition.

The theme behind Scratch Bar is that everything is made from scratch (read: no processed items).  There are no purchased deli meats or cans to open.  Chef Phillip Frankland Lee wanted to make sure everything was healthy and clean and didn’t leave you gasping for air at the end of the night from being overly full.  I ordered the 10 course meal, and it was just right for me.

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Popcorn.  On the house is some popcorn that is pretty buttery.  I believe there is rosemary in it, but I’m not entirely sure.  It came out room temperature, and it was decent.  I can imagine if it came hot, it would’ve been better.

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1.  Green Mussel and Sea Urchin Sake Shooter.  Attached to the fork is the mussel.  In the shooter itself, there is a clump of avocado mousse that also has some sea urchin taste.  You basically eat the green mussel, shoot the sake, then use the fork to move the avocado mousse so it falls into your mouth.  It was actually pretty good.

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2.  Pork Belly and Raw Oysters.  On the top is some foam with a raw oyster sitting on the pork belly.  What was interesting about this was it was a mix of hot (pork belly) and cold (oyster) together.  I was told to use my fingers and just eat the whole thing as one.  This was surprisingly good too.  You would think everything would clash together, but it actually complemented.

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3.  Puffed Smelt w/ Bone Marrow Mustard.  They then brought out literally a stone brick with the main attractions on top.  The puff that surrounds the smelt had the same texture as fried pork rinds.  In the center is the smelt which was pretty crispy too.  The red substance is the mustard mixed with the bone marrow.  I’m not sure what the bone marrow does to it, but the mustard itself was slightly sweet.  I was told to slather the mustard on top of the smelt like toast.  At first, I wasn’t feeling the mustard, but in the end it was good with the fake pork rinds.

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4.  Roasted yet Raw Prawns w/ Cabbage & Pistachio.  This is basically sliced barely cooked raw prawns with some pickled vegetables and sauce.  The prawn was deliciously nice and sweet.  It reminded me a lot of something you could find at a n-Michelin star restaurant.

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5.  Cured Pig’s Head.  I forget what parts of the pig’s head was in this, but the red goo is basically mustard similar to the puffed smelt dish.  The meat itself was pretty interesting.  It reminded me of some of the crazy Chinese meats you would eat during the cold banquet courses.  The cured pig’s head was made from scratch.

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6.  Blackened Cauliflower.  This was the vegetable part of the menu.  There were various cauliflowers cooked in a variety of ways on top of some type of puree.  I think the puree was cauliflower, but I don’t remember completely.  By the way, if the plate looks messed up, it’s because I forgot to take the picture before eating it.

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7.  Roasted Bone Marrow N Sourdough.  As mentioned before, I hate mushrooms.  If I could I would murder all mushrooms on this planet (except psychadelic ones).  However, I had to nut up to eat this.  After I got through the horrible mushroom textures, the sourdough and bone marrow was pure euphoria.  I loved the homemade sourdough.  It had just the right amount of sour to mix with the bone marrow.  The bone marrow itself didn’t have that much flavor, but I saw it as a complement to the sourdough like unsalted butter.  The sourdough was very puffy and very crispy.  But best of all, it didn’t tear your mouth.

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8.  Roasted Mary’s Duck Breast.  As a big fan of duck, I loved this one.  The duck breast was super soft and tender.  The duck skin was very crispy albeit slightly burnt.  To the side was this godly “creamless” cream of corn.  No cream was used in this, and it was freaking good.  There were also fried broccoli heads and some pickled broccoli stems as well.  Overall, I definitely would want to get this again (especially the corn).

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9.  Dry Aged Hangar Steak.  The steak had a lot of flavor to it, but I personally felt it was just ok to me.  The meat was cooked just slightly over than what I prefer.  What was most interesting was the mashed potatoes.  The consistency does not resemble anything of mashed potatoes, but it was still pretty good.  The asparagus was nicely salted and crispy, and the cherry tomatoes were super popping sweet.

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10.  Dark Chocolate & Cayenne Candy Bar.  I forgot what berry the red spread was made of.  The white stuff is salted cream with a wet marshmallow like consistency.  There is some oil with seeds in it.  Supposedly the seeds are suppose to help with digestion.  The spicy chocolate itself was divine.

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11.  Vanilla Ice Cream w/ Rainbow Sprinkles.  I’m not sure if I lost count or the waiters lost count, but I thought I ordered the 10 course meal.  Regardless, this was pretty good too.  The cone itself was made in house.  The sprinkles are actually candied vegetables.  I forget which vegetables (pretty sure carrots is one of them) they were, but I really think it’s fun to see the Chef’s creativity.  This was actually a little too sweet for me, but it was still good.

So typically for these types of course menus, the waiters come out and tell you what you’re eating.  Surprisingly Chef Phillip Frankland Lee came out to talk about some of his dishes.  I didn’t realize that he was the Chef until towards later in the evening, he started walking around his restaurant asking how was the food.  I had a small conversation with him about how much I liked the food, and how I compared it to my first experience at Ink.  He gave me a tour of his kitchen showing me how everything is made.  There was no centrifuge or random gastro molecular contraptions.  It was very basic.  He showed me the pigs head meat hanging in the 1 tiny fridge they had, and the pans that the items were cooked in.  It’s surprising to see how basic the kitchen is and yet they were still able to make some cool innovative food pieces.  On a side note for you watch lovers, he wears a Rolex Submariner.

Scratch Bar isn’t a Michelin star restaurant, but it is a very accessible alternative to your typical fufu restaurant.  It ranks high on my list for good LA restaurants.  None of the ingredients are that complex for the average diner to understand or try.  Prices are not crazy expensive, and you still get very high quality ingredients.  The staff at the bar was pretty down to earth.  I never at once felt pressured to do anything.  They were in fact very welcoming to me being the solo diner at the bar.  I wish there were more places in LA that welcomed solo diners more often like this.  I think the best part of this experience is seeing the fun in the plating and play on food.  I definitely would do the 14 course meal with the Chef my next go at this.

Visit: Scratch Bar, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
#16 of 52 2014 LA expedition

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