On Sunset is a hotel restaurant.  I know it's not on the strip or downtown or even facing the ocean. This calm, Bel Air hotel isn't the first place you would think of to find an innovative dining experience. however, Executive Chef, Olivier Rouselle, has created some masterful dishes that you must taste to believe, including the best crab cake I have ever had.

Prompt delivery of warm bread and butter is always a hint that a grand meal is about to be served.  Before the first course was brought out, I was hoping to be surprised.  I wanted to taste something new and exciting.  A shocking combination of flavors. My wish was granted.  From start to finish the menu was solid, notable and exciting.

Zuccchini Soup with Smoked Trout

Filet Mignon Carpaccio with Shaved Parmesan Reggiano, Arugula, Shallots, Olive Oil, Capers, Lemon

Thai Style Dungeness Crab Cake with Cranberry-Citrus Salad and Cilantro Mint Aioli

Seafood Cioppino with Tiger Prawn, Mussels, Scallop, Halibut, Salmon, Baby Fennel, Artisan Pasta, Tomato-Saffron Base

Herb Roasted Rack of Lamb with Okinawa Yam, Caponata, Tomato Provençale, Rosemary Jus

The dishes whose flavors I can still feel giddy about when I close my eyes a week later are the Zucchini Soup, Thai Crab Cake and Rack of Lamb.  The considerate thought that went into these three creations was apparent in their taste and presentation.

The soup was alarming to my senses in the best possible way.  When I learned that the grass-green puree was in no way pea or lentil based, but zucchini, I raised my brows.  When I was told that the bit of white flesh floating in the center of the delicate bowl was smoked trout, I raised my concern, how would these taste together?  Marvelous.  After the first spoonful, my judgement eased down my throat until it was no more.  The zucchini was bright and the perfect morsel of trout cut through it with a confident, smokey blade.  The contrast was new and exciting.  A small spin of balsamic reduction danced along the surface adding another layer of intriguing flavor with its deep sweetness. This soup was the oddest sounding and best tasting I've had in awhile.

I will not forget Chef Rouselle's Thai Crab Cake for as long as I live.  Crab cakes are tasty, but incredibly predictable.  Never before have I had one that strayed from the traditional expectations, until now.  This one wins.  Displayed with a lock of fried basil and a sway of aioli, the cake was begging to be speared. The curry-spice mixed throughout the soft, fried mass, enhanced the tender meat in an exotic way. It made this traditional item speak a new language.  I purposely forced a pause between each fork- slice, reminding myself to savor this taste, this impressive work.  

I never met a red meat that I didn't love.  It wasn't that this lamb was prepared in any unusual way, what made it unique was it's plate pairings.  The meat was roasted perfectly and tasted divine, but the yams and tomato provençale made the dish a complete success. The sweet creaminess of the yams and the acidity of the tomato contrasted with the wild rich flavor of the lamb, making it's taste more powerful than had it stood alone.  There was not a bland bite on the plate.  

Chef Rouselle has shared a fall menu that should not be overlooked.  Other highlights include: Japanese Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Ravioli, Thyme Roasted Alaskan Halibut and Braised Short Rib Risotto with Organic Maitake Mushroom.  Take a seat.  You just might end up dining so well you need a room.

For more information please visit www.luxehotels.com/sunset

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