Monday, January 25, 2016

The Church Key

January 18th to 31st is Dine LA Restaurant Week and many great (and, let’s face it, probably not so great) restaurants are participating. If you’ve never partaken before, each restaurant has their own specially priced Restaurant Week menu. Most do a lunch and dinner menu. Some only one or the other.    

Last night my friend and I tried The Church Key in West Hollywood on Sunset. We ordered from BOTH the Dine LA menu and the regular menu. What can I say? We’re rebels and that’s how we roll. Being said rebels, we ordered not one but two appetizers. 

The Dine LA menu.

It's just a Coke but I like the picture.

The first one was off the Dine LA menu and it was the ricotta gnudi with Parmesan cheese espuma, red kuri squash, brown butter, pickled leeks and chives. They were quite tasty. Soft and pillowy and buttery. The Parmesan cheese espuma was nice and creamy. Perfect for a chilly night.

The ricotta gnudi. Very tasty.

The second appetizer, which we ordered off the regular menu, was Ososky’s potato pierogies with apple butter, aged Gouda, crème fraîche, and chives. They were delicious. The apple butter tasted like the best applesauce you’ve ever put into your mouth. The Gouda kicked up the flavor. Who knew pierogies could be so damn good?

Ososky's potato pierogies. Damn these were

Now onto the entrees. If you’re a regular reader of The Bite then you know I love burgers so I had to go off the Dine LA menu (since it's only available on the lunch menu) and try The Church Key’s famous Angus Dagwood Burger. It has two thin patties, with farmhouse cheddar, secret sauce, and pepperoncini slaw with a side of gratin French fries. It was definitely in the top three burgers I've had and I’ve had a LOT of burgers. It was nice and juicy and the slaw and sauce blended together superbly, complementing the burger but never overwhelming it.

The French fries were definitely the best I’ve ever had. They were huge sticks of potato goodness. They tasted like they were fried in some sort of pastry or phylo dough. I don’t know what it was but it was amazing. When I told our server they were the best I’ve had, she said people are divisive about them and was glad I loved them. I was kind of surprised by her comment at first. How could anyone not think these are the best fries ever? But then it occurred to me if you’re not a fan of crispy fries like I am, then these probably aren’t the fries for you.

The Dagwood Burger. One of the top 3 burgers I've
ever had. And the French fries are the best I've ever

My friend had the Jidori Chicken Tikka Masala, which had dehydrated mango, cilantro raita, and basmati rice. Okay full disclosure: I don’t like Indian food. Please don’t hate me. I’ve tried it a few times. I’ve given it second and third chances but it’s just not for me. However, my friend loves Indian food so I will tell you what she thought of the dish. She said it was good but maybe not the best she’s ever tried. The chicken was like a roast chicken instead of tandoori chicken. The sauce wasn’t spicy but had good flavor. She thought the dehydrated mango added a nice sweetness to the dish. Overall, she enjoyed it but would probably get something else next time.

Jidori Chicken Tikka Masala.

The dim sum cart. Want sum?

For dessert we got their famous Brioche donuts with brown butter glaze and cinnamon caramel. They were served with a mini-peppermint patty milkshake. People go nuts for these donuts. My friend went nuts for these donuts. She loved the flavor of the brown butter glaze and the salted caramel sauce. She loved that they were light and fluffy and not heavy. 

As for me, well I guess we have to return to that divisive thing. I didn’t like them. They had a flavor I couldn’t appreciate. Perhaps it was the brown butter glaze but I couldn’t get into them. However, I’m fully prepared to accept responsibility and say it was more my palate and not the donuts themselves. Just like that old break-up adage: It’s not you, brioche donuts. It’s me. Next visit I definitely want to try the frozen pumpkin cheesecake or the chocolate mousse bomb.

Brioche donuts and mini-peppermint patty milkshake.

Overall we enjoyed the atmosphere. Sure it was loud but it was Saturday night in WeHo so what do you expect? Some of the clientele was a tad snooty but again it was Saturday night in WeHo. Our server was very nice and attentive. Our only complaint would be we were seated in the front of the restaurant not far from the hostess station. Before our dinner arrived, they pulled the two tables next to ours together for a large party of people, leaving a huge space on the bench against the wall (one diner sits on the bench, while the other in the chair on the other side of the table) between us and the other tables. A space that people waiting to be seated mistook as a place to sit while you’re waiting. So at times it felt like we had rude uninvited guests for dinner. Seriously, this man and woman took turns sitting on the bench and were so close to my friend you would've thought they were all there together.

Our server apologized again and again and we don’t blame the restaurant. Next time we’ll just ask to be seated in the back dining area where no one will sit on my friend’s coat or stare at us as we eat our dessert. It was obvious they were waiting for our table and were making a lame attempt at the Jedi mind trick to get us to leave. But don’t worry, Church Key. We will be back. Even a snooty wannabe Jedi in a designer suit couldn’t keep me away from that burger.