Helming the kitchen at a new restaurant is hard work, and it often takes a chef several months to find his mojo. Especially when that restaurant happens to be in a hotel that is part of a global chain like RH at Andaz West Hollywood. However, with his revamped summer menu--based on the regional cuisine of his native Perigord in southwest France--Chef Sebastien Archambault displays a newfound comfortable dexterity, using seasonal California ingredients to create the nostalgic French dishes.
That's not to equate comfort with boringness. Quite the contrary. His traditional Perigourdine poached egg with field mushrooms, foie gras and summer truffles (that you just mush together in a little casserole then spread on truffle-butter crostini) is anything but ordinary. The flavors are at once earthy, familiar, and utterly sumptuous. The Oxnard Farm heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese and green onion is equally simple and quintessential. The briny crayfish risotto with peas, dark romaine leaves and tomatoes sheds new light on a usually poorly executed crustacean, and the chocolatey-rich slow-braised beef cheek with hearty button mushrooms is both gelatinously smooth and powerfully flavored. The braised Petaluma chicken breast on a bed of white corn and pimiento de piquillos in a pineau wine sauce manages to be light and hearty, and sides like the sizzlingly cheesy cauliflower gratin will get even the most obstinate kids to eat their veggies.
However, the meal isn't over without desserts like the fresh berries in a wine jelly, or the silky chocolate molten cake with vanilla bean ice cream. Whereas the previous menu at RH served up what a chef might think a Los Angeles diner would look for, Chef Archambault's new menu shows us what we should be looking for--seasonal ingredients and authentic cuisine.