Sunday, August 19, 2007

FOOD: Murano

Props on the new Murano Ristorante on the west end of Melrose. We were invited there by our neighbors for a celebration of their daughter's graduation from The Art Center College of Design. (Congratulations, Alex and Addison!) What an appropriate place to do it. The trendy new eatery, located in the shadow of the Pacific Design Center, in the heart of LA's design district, is strikingly done, using mostly white and clean modern lines, setting off the Murano glass chandeliers in reds and classical shapes. The bar features an archipelago of low white rectangular islands and benches for spontaneous social configurations, where we mixed before dining. Dinner was hosted in a private back room, around a large square table configuration with four people on a side, a most convivial way to arrange a party of sixteen. That kind of attention to detail, not only in the visual design, but in the "social architecture", is much appreciated. In another signature "attention to detail", once everyone is seated, women in black dresses are offered black napkins in place of the white ones, so as not to get any white lint on their dress. Happily, they did not forget that restaurants are about food (one can't take these things for granted, especially in trendy glam spots like this), and chef Kristi Ritchey (lately of Pinot Blanc, Patina Group's Napa Valley venue) is doing great things in the kitchen. I started with a fresh salad of endive and water cress, in a gorgonzola dressing, accompanied by candied walnuts and fresh mission figs. It was beautifully arranged and a fine way to start a summer meal. This fresh greenery nicely introduced the earthy flavors of my spinach and wild mushroom ravioli, accented with ground walnuts and white truffle oil. The ravioli were savory and superb. I also had a taste of the perfectly-prepared flatiron steak, cut in strips full of marinated beef flavor. This fine meal was finished with a rich flourless chocolate cake, decadently topped with vanilla gelato and cherries. The restaurant's owners, Robin Gans and Sandy Sachs of GirlBar fame, along with Jeffrey Sanker of White Party fame, are experienced pros at dance clubs and entertainment events, but I believe this is their first foray into restaurants. Well done!

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