Thursday, July 4, 2013

Red Medicine - Beverly Hills, CA

The other evening we drove into Los Angeles to be with Andrew and went out to eat at Red Medicine, located at 8400 Wishire, Beverly Hills, CA (323-651-5500). There we had food unlike any other I've ever had. It seemed to embody a recent trend in food which is to combine food with science and art. I recently read a book about the celebrated Chef, Grant Achatz, and his restaurant Alinea, located in Chicago. He has been at the forefront of that trend which tends to focus on a meal which is composed of numerous small dishes. 

Judy contemplated getting the six coarse menu tasting, but in the end we decided to pick different dishes and share them. 

Our first dish was Brussels sprouts, with shallots and fish sauce. When it came out it looked like leaves on top of Styrofoam packing chips and did not even look edible. It turned out to be basil leaves on shrimp chips and underneath were heavily cooked, pasty, Brussels sprouts and shallots in fish sauce. The shrimp chips were particularly good when mixed in with the fish sauce. The taste was heavily skewed toward the fish sauce, and it was pretty strong, but I enjoyed it a lot. I realized at this point that this was not an ordinary restaurant. 
Bay leaves on shrimp chips
Underlying Brussels sprouts and shallots
Next we got crispy spring rolls with dungeness crab and lime.  The spring rolls were stacked Stonehenge-like, with tiny sprigs of flowers on top and dollops of mayonnaise and some kind of white foam. Very fun presentation, but the spring rolls did not do much for me. I couldn't really taste the crab or anything else but the crispy roll. Judy, on the other hand, really liked it.  
crispy spring rolls
The most amazingly artistic dish was sweet potatoes with smoked tofu and tamarind. It looked like a rotting log in a bog covered with moss and leaf litter. It did not look appetizing in the least. I wish I knew all of the ingredients because there were many. The outside of the sweet potato (the log) was black. I have no idea how they got it that color (it did not taste burned), but it looked amazingly like wood. The sweet potato itself was very soft and moist. I'm not sure what the leaves were, they kind of looked like maple, but we ate them and they weren't particularly good or bad. I did not really love the roasted tofu. I felt like it detracted from the sweetness of the sweet potato which I felt like I never really got to taste. A yellow leafy item was some sort of fruit or other kind of leather. It was okay. This was great to look at, fun to eat because of its weirdness, but the taste was marginal for me. 
sweet potatoes
sweet potatoes
sweet potato log with tofu spread on top
One of my favorite dishes was Sweetbreads, with spice bread and smoked bone marrow. I believe our waiter said the sweetbreads were endocrine glands, but what is amazing is that this offal was not awful, it was fantastically good. It came out disguised like a field of ferns, with greens I don't ever recall being served before. There were crispy crackers which must have been the spice bread, holding the greens above the sweetbreads. The sweetbreads themselves were very soft, moist and savory, and were mixed with some prunes, very small mushrooms and a wonderful bone marrow gravy. That dish was both artistic and tasty, using ingredients that most people would not consider to be even edible. 
prune, small mushrooms and sweetbreads
The next dish was part of the six course menu tasting, but they let us order it separately. It was lamb's shoulder, slow roasted with sequoia redwood shoots, ripe and unripe mango, yellow roots, preserved mustard seeds, puffed soymilk skin, and wild yarrow leaves. I really loved this dish as well. It was funky looking with all of the yellow and orange (I believe the orange was tamarind). The yarrow leaves are the little green sprigs. What looked like yellow tomato halves were I believe, marinated onions with mustard seeds. The crusty yellow vegetables I believe were golden beets. The crusty white covering must be the puffed soymilk skin. Lots of different textures and the lamb was tender, had a very nice, almost smoked, flavor. 
lamb shoulder

the lamb
Judy ordered what they called a "large format" item of imperial wagyu beef brisket, braised for 36 hours with palm sugar and fish sauce. The price was not listed on the menu and I guess the saying is, if you have to ask, you shouldn't order it. We shouldn't have ordered it. Very expensive and I felt like the least artistic and original of the dishes. It was a big slab of brisket and came with lettuce leaves to be used as wraps, picked cucumber, shredded carrot and some sort of sauce. The brisket was a little stringy and had a strong fish sauce flavor. The only dish I was disappointed with - but part of that stems from the cost. 
wagyu beef briscuit
wagyu beef brisket
Finally, we were stuffed, but ended up sharing a dessert of milk chocolate cream, in the "Japanese method," with crispy devil's food, cucumber, buckwheat and loveage. By this time it was dark and Andrew insisted I not use a flash, so the pictures are horrible. But the dish was not. The shell was the crispy devil's food. Loveage is a plant and the leaf just barely visible toward the back is a loveage leaf. The plate was made beautifully of wood, and the liquid at the base was partly cucumber juice. There were also cucumber ice cream balls along with chocolate ice cream balls and a milk chocolate creamy base. Whatever it all was, it was fantastic. Very rich, very pleasant texture. 
milk chocolate cream
One of the more fun meals I've ever had (as well as one of the most expensive). If we'd not gotten the wagyu, the cost would have been much more reasonable and we'd have been more pleasantly full instead of stuffed. 


  1. Some of those dishes are really interesting. Not unlike what I was thinking years ago when making faces or animals, etc. out of food to get my kids to try something new.

  2. One of the things I really enjoyed were the garnishes--all edible plants I would never think to eat, like hibiscus leaves and redwood. I think the dessert was my favorite of all the dishes, with the lamb coming in second.