Citrus at Social: Ambitious Food Complements Hollywood History [CLOSED]

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Restaurant Sign Hollywood

Citrus at Social writes a new chapter in the building's storied history.

In May 2006, New York based restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow and local boutique owner Melissa Richardson partnered on Social Hollywood, transforming the Hollywood Athletic Club into an elaborate playground for young Hollywood. For whatever reason, the Moroccan-themed restaurant/bar/lounge didn’t take, so the partners recruited revered chef Michel Richard to revamp the food. Richard ran the fashionable Citrus restaurant on Melrose for many years, so he knows L.A. tastes. In early 2008, Social Hollywood became Citrus at Social, signaling the D.C. based Richard’s triumphant return to the L.A. dining scene. He hired Rémi Lauvand as his Chef de Cuisine, but it wasn’t until July, when Richard replaced Lauvand with protégée Omri Aflalo that the food really started to hit full-force.

Former manager Jesse Caetano designed the fashionable list of Specialty Cocktails ($13 each) that all utilize fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs. We ordered the Cucu Cocktail, a refreshing mix of Patron Añejo, Cointreau, cucumber, cilantro and lime juice; and the Blueberry Lemonade, including Stoli Blueberry, tart lemon juice and simple syrup. These were both serious cocktails.

The right side of Citrus at Social’s menu is devoted to signature Richard dishes like the carpaccio “Mosaic” and “Duck, Duck, Orange,” but we both opted for the left side of the menu, which features reasonably priced Tasting Menu (5 courses for $65). Chef Aflalo changes the tasting menu every two to three weeks. There’s no doubt that Citrus at Social is a Michel Richard restaurant, but the tasting menu provides some insight into Aflalo’s culinary vision.


Amuse Bouche Hollywood

Our three-part amuse bouche was beautifully presented and completely satisfying. We encountered a juicy fried chicken breast orb on Dijon mustard sauce; diced jicama and Asian pear with shaved sea scallop and citrus vinaigrette; and pasta-like butternut squash ribbons with maple bacon vinaigrette, including crispy bacon bits.

FIRST COURSE

Soup Hollywood

Chestnut Soup was especially impressive. Our waiter presented white bowls with central piles of roasted black trumpet, chanterelle and oyster mushrooms ringed with dots of peanut butter. Then he poured the rich, porcini-infused chestnut broth from a pitcher. After cleaning our bowls, I was happy to discover some residual broth in the pitcher.

SECOND COURSE

Fish Hollywood

Daurade was another winner, decorated with three horizontal wafers and plated on leek fondue and black bean sauce with a golden-brown fingerling potato. The white fish was nice and moist and the salty, crisp skin was addictive.

THIRD COURSE

Duck Hollywood

Duck, Duck, Orange is one of Michel Richard’s signature dishes. The rosy slab of crisp-skinned duck meat was nice and tender. It came with a pile of wild mushrooms and parsnip planks. Even though some of the same mushrooms were in the soup, their overall impact in this dish wasn’t quite as dynamic. Still, the dish worked overall.

FOURTH COURSE

Venison Hollywood

Mushroom Crusted Venison was outstanding, a vivid deer loin crusted with an aromatic porcini powder.

Though the flavors at Citrus are clear-cut and distinctive, Richard still resorts to molecular gastronomy on occasion to achieve textures that aren’t possible in nature. Take the butternut squash risotto. Classic French cooking methods can’t produce the beaded tapioca-like consistency found on this plate. The risotto was topped with Brussels sprout leaves and crispy bacon bits. There was also a streak of cherry-anise sauce. The flavors might be simple, but the plating is truly fine-dining, with every plate featuring multiple components.

Citrus at Social may be high-end, but Michel Richard still manages to infuse some lighthearted touches.

Tater Tots Hollywood

Tater Tots ($10) may be perfectly cylindrical, but are as comforting as ever, served with potent garlic aioli.

Spinach Hollywood

Chef Aflalo uses gelatin in order to construct Spinach Bites ($10), supple spinach blocks with creamy Mornay sauce and crisped rice bits for texture’s sake.

DESSERT

Chocolate Dessert Hollywood

The blowout Chocolate Degustation included a milk chocolate ice cream bar with peanut, a white chocolate panna cotta (with the texture of a marshmallow) surrounded by dark chocolate beads and chocolate sauce, and the Chocolate Bar.

Up until three months ago, the bar went by Le Kit Kat, but Nestle sued Richard. Regardless of the name, the bar was delicious, featuring layers of milk chocolate and crunchy hazelnut, plumed with a crispy bull’s-eye wafer and set on caramel sauce.

Overall, the meal was a great value considering the high-quality ingredients and precision. Chef Aflalo, only 28 years old, is clearly a chef on the rise.

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Michel Richard still runs Citrus, he’s just not in the kitchen every night. He’s based in D.C. and trusts protegee Omri Aflalo to run the L.A. kitchen according to his standards and training.

hmmm i thought i heard michel richard was not at citrus ne more. is he still at there?

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