How does ink come out of pens? Well I can’t answer that, but I know how ink comes out of squid. The newest hot spot in LA is Michael Voltaggio’s INK restaurant in Hollywood that opened its doors last month. Reservations were accepted a week before opening day and within hours, a full month’s worth of reservations were made for eager diners. I managed to snag a reservation for myself and three other friends. “Sharing is caring” they say, but I think it just makes ordering the full menu more tangible!
My friends and I arrived at INK for our 8:30PM reservation, and walked into a modern minimalistic dining room full of ink blotches on the floor. Yes, I did step over one on my way to the restroom; I have my moments. Nestled in the back is the kitchen, and a full view of Michael Votaggio and his kitchen army. Opposite the kitchen is the bar with Mixologist Devon Espinosa behind the counter. Upon being seated, we perused the drink menu which was full of unique flavors. Ginger, lavender, and fresh grated cinnamon graced the tops of drinks as they were brought out to us. INK also has a nice wine list; I opted for a nice cava that I thought would pair well with most dishes on the menu.
Our dinner began with the Bay Scallops. This was a wonderfully creamy dish, probably because of the buttermilk and cream of dehydrated potato. It included potato skins which added a rich texture to the light and tender scallops. The depth of the dish for me was brought out in the shellfish broth; it was a great start!
Our meal continued with the much anticipated Octopus. The sauce tasted like buttered popcorn and the strip with circles reminded me of a movie reel, which tied in the popcorn theme. That may not have been Voltaggio’s intention, but that’s what I imagined. The actual octopus was a bit chewy, but the flavors blended well together.
The next course welcomed many “mmmm’s” and “Oh my God’s!” The Hamachi was the dish with the most perfect texture and flavor. The combination of sesame cream, jalapeño, and grapefruit created a beautiful explosion savory goodness.
The Beef Tartare left us a bit perplexed. We were enjoying a lot of wonderful flavors until the tartare hit our mouths. We were craving more flavor; however, the texture of the dish was spot on.
Following the Beef Tartare was the Dungeness Crab with bok choy kimchi. This had the opposite effect of the previous dish. I thought the kimchi overpowered the whole with its saltiness. The crab on its own was otherwise wonderful.
We ordered a Seaweed Mashed Potatoes which were so decadent. They were quite rich in flavor, but light at the same time.
The Halibut Cheeks were covered in kelp pasta. This is creativity at its best! Kelp pasta… It works, and yes I’m going to leave you hanging!
The Spaghetti was made of squid… Giant squid! I have to admit, I may have scratched one of my dinner mates in order to get the remnants of this dish. I LOVED the texture of the squid and the hazelnut-ink pesto. I loved the smear of ink on the plate, too!
The Sea Bass was quite decadent. The skin on the sea bass was a perfect crisp, accented by the creamy lemon curd dot. And I loved the romanesco! It had the brown butter flavor and added a nice firm texture to the dish.
What can I say about the Wagyu Hangar Steak… Well not much, except that you need to try it! This prompted complete silence as each speck of flavor was devoured. Many foodgasms were had, and many a man will be compared to this moment!
I could have ended the night with the hanger steak, because after that wonderful intensity, I really just want to take a nap. But the dishes continued coming out… and next was the Berkshire Pork Tenderlion with its dark charcoal crust and leeks. The mac & cheese component of the dish was a simple pasta filled with a salty cheese filling that sat on top of the tenderloin.
Our final savory dish was the Veal Cheek. The fried sticky rice gave your mouth a similar effect of pop rocks. It was crispy and a nice surprise to wake you up before the dessert courses.
Dessert began with the Goat Cheese ash, arugula, and grapes. The goat cheese was probably the most wonderfully soft and rich cheese I have had in a while. It just melted in your mouth.
Following our dessert cheese course was the Chocolate Coffee and Spice. Talk about unique and out of the box! Not what I expected from the traditional chocolate offering in a dessert menu. You can literally taste each element and when blended, it’s perfect!
The Apple Crème Caramel was a modern take on the comforting apple pie. I liked how each ingredient could be taken apart. This let me enjoy the crunchy walnuts more than the rest of the dish.
At some point, all good things must come to an end, and this night’s grand finale was the Grapefruit Curd. The unexpected cilantro sorbet was the silent winner of the dish for me. The ball of sorbet sat quietly in the back of the dish covered in unassuming crumbs of texture. One bite and you will understand.
INK lives up to its hype. I will be returning in the near future to try the Quail and Young Turnips which I did not have the opportunity to enjoy in this round. Not to mention the cocktails that I expect will change seasonally. And what can I say, staring at Michael Voltaggio all night and another foodgasm never hurt!
8360 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 651 5866
Maylynn Morales lives and works in Los Angeles County, enjoys wine road trips, international travel, foodie outings, and is a pianist and Psychic Medium. You can follow her on Twitter: @Oenophile79, or her website: www.maylynnmorales.com and blog: http://TheM2Line.wordpress.com
by Ann Nichols