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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Barbrix Opens in Silver Lake

The front wall of Barbrix (242 Hyperion Avenue, Silver Lake 90027; 323/662-2442) is no wall at all.

On hot summer nights, crowds will no doubt start inside at the bar, then, drink in hand, move outside to claim one of the half dozen tables and settle in for an evening sampling the appetizers that include marinated olives, burrata with tapenade, shrimp & chikpea flour tortillas (a favorite), and crostini topped with soft and sweet crescenza, fig relish & prosciutto.

Go deeper into the restaurant and you'll discover intimate groupings of tables, some against the side wall under the picture windows, others tucked into semi-private alcoves.

The stylish restaurant was recently opened by a husband and wife team, Claudio Blotta and Adria Tennor Blotta who met when they worked at Campanile.

They designed Barbrix so it would feel as inviting for couples out for an intimate meal as for groups of friends who want to spend an evening hanging out. The bar offers wines and beers from around the world to pair with the savory offerings on the affordable, tapas-style menu.

At the back of the restaurant there is an open kitchen designed around an L-shaped counter. Chef Don Dickman keeps a watchful eye over his chefs as they plate--to the left--the appetizers, salads, cheese plates, and charcuterie while on the right he directs the finishing of meat and fish courses--the wild boar sausage with a bean ragu, Niman Ranch porchetta style pork belly, and grilled skirt steak on a wild arugula salad.

For those who prefer seafood, the menu offers plates of pesto manila clams, grilled sardines with preserved Meyer lemon & mint aioli, monk fish swimming in a spicy chorizo sauce with chickpeas, and roasted Alaskan halibut resting on a funeral pyre of sunchokes, chard & alba mushrooms with gremolata.

Mediterranean ingredients give Barbrix its flavor edge. The take-away for me--unfortunately we took home no doggie bags that night because we ate everything we ordered--was the memory of a very pleasant evening and a new love for charmoula.

Served on the Roasted Cauliflower Salad, the charmoula added multiple levels of flavor to the caramelized vegetables.

When we came home I was determined to make my own version of the classic North African sauce. I experimented over several nights and discovered its versatility. I used it with fish, grilled meat, roasted vegetables, salt-crusted potatoes, and as a dipping sauce for a vegetable crudite.

Charmoula Sauce

Yield 4 servings
Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves, skins on
1/4 cup cilantro, mostly leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, mostly leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of Cayenne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

Char the cloves on an open flame. Clean off the blackened skin, mash, and finely chop. Use a mini-grinder and puree the garlic, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Season with sea salt, paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Stir well, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

Refrigerated in a sealed container, the sauce will keep 3-4 days. Serve at room temperature.

Variations

Add 1/2 teaspoon chopped preserved lemon
Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Use dried parsley instead of fresh

1 comment:

loves2eat said...

This is a winner! I didn't have paprika so I substituted pimenton (Spanish smoked sweet red pepper). I tried it last night on baked salmon. Tonight I'll put it on poached chicken. I can't wait to have it again.