October 14, 2011 | Page 13
Restaurant Review by
M. SPENCER HECHT
I was surfing online about a month ago, just checking out what was hot in the always evolving, always cosmopolitan LA restaurant scene. I was pleasantly surprised coming across the news that a new, very chic, and very gourmet Peruvian eatery had opened in town, and that the celebrated chef was the #1 Peruvian chef in the entire USA. When I walked up the stairs of this formidable, fashionable establishment located near Century City, I knew right away this was going to be a special treat. Sure enough, Picca lived up to the hype and then some. One of the hottest places on the circuit presently, you can feel the energy in the building right away. Even before eating a thing, the sheer excitement of the ambience, along with the beautiful people decked out in LA casual wear, mostly drinking exotic South American libations you have never heard of, creates an atmosphere of youthful exuberance that is fun, albeit slightly loud on the ears. To start, we opted for pisco sours, an absolutely delicious concoction made from Peruvian Pisco liquor, a kind of South American spirit, or eau de vie, made from grapes, and very strong. PICCA PERU The level of the cuisine was confirmed when the first dish arrived, 9575 West Pico Blvd. a wonderfully fresh tuna tartare, sitting on a bed of ripe avocado, and Los Angeles, CA 90035 seasoned with soy sauce with a hint of Japanese sesame oil. The next 310-277-0133 dish, an appetizer plate of raw scallops topped with sea urchin, confirmed the heavy Japanese accent of Picca, which boasts extremely fresh, premium seafood. It was as good as at any Japanese sushi bar in town. And, Picca even offers high-quality sushi for those so inclined. Next, I opted for the ceviche criollo, an absolutely delectable, lightly marinated sea bass dish garnished with a type of Peruvian corn which I had never tasted. The subtle lime flavor and spice of the marinade did not overpower the quality and freshness of the sea bass, as is so often the case with inferior ceviche preparations. This was clearly the creation of a master chef. My lovely companion, a ceviche enthusiast who actually hails from Lima, said this was the absolute best she had ever eaten. We also sampled the black cod skewers, seasoned with a spicy ancholde sauce that was wonderfully flavorful, but again did not overpower the high quality and freshness of the delicate black cod. Next we tried the special pollo saltado, a classic Peruvian chicken stew made with onions, garlic and tomato. Again, my Peruvian friend was really happy with the dish, and noted just how much better Picca’s version of this old mainstay was compared to other lesser Peruvian restaurants dotting the LA landscape. To finish the meal, we decided to go with the massive 32-ounce special rib eye steak, served sliced on a plank, and seasoned to the hilt with Peruvian spices and garlic. The steak is marinated for six hours in a special vacuum sealed bag prior to grilling, and the flavor of the beef was truly sensational, which is good because at $72 an order, this dish is not cheap. All in all, Picca is a fantastic find for those seeking a premium and highly gourmet ethnic dining experience. As in most high-end restaurants, it’s hard to get out for less than $50-$70 per person if you order the great dishes we did, and wash them down with pisco sours. But it’s worth it. Spencer Hecht is a professor of Japanese Literature living in Japan, and is in town for a few weeks visiting his family.
Fate Of Neutra’s Kronish House Still In Limbo By Marla Schevker The fate of the last remaining Beverly Hills house designed by World War II architect Richard Neutra still remains in limbo. The 60-day stay on demolition, granted by the City Council at their August 5 meeting, ended Monday, Oct. 10 and it is unclear whether the LA Conservancy and Realtor Susan Smith are any closer to finding a buyer. Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy at the LA Conservancy, said they are still hoping someone comes forward to buy the iconic house. “We’re still working very hard (to attract) someone and we’ve been doing that for the last 60 days,” Fine said. “A lot more people (have come out to see the house) than otherwise was happening before. We’ve been working all the contacts we have. We have really been leaving no stone unturned,” Smith said because of a legal agreement she could not discuss the status of the sale. However, she did tell The Courier that at least 60 to 70 qualified buyers have come and looked at the house. The LA Conservancy has
used the 60-day stay to put the word out regarding the house, Fine said. “If we had not had the demolition delay, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see if there was someone out there who didn’t know about the house or needed the encouragement from ourselves or others to see the house and find out what they can do with it,” Fine said. “I think we’ve taken full advantage of the opportunity.” The Neutra house was sold in a foreclosure auction in January for $5.8 million by Soda Partners, LLC. They then put it on the market for almost $14 million. In July, after it remained unsold, Soda Partners applied for a demolition permit. As of press time, the demolition permit had not been issued. Taking the first step towards a historic preservation ordinance, the City Council unanimously decided to establish a two-year pilot program of the Mills Act at the Sept. 20 meeting. The program is set to start on Jan. 1, 2012 and will offer property tax breaks for historic building owners who qualify.