Dinner at Maude, Curtis Stone’s Beverly Hills restaurant
We recently treated ourselves to an early Valentine’s dinner at Maude Restaurant, owned by Chef Curtis Stone and located Beverly Hills. He named it after his maternal grandmother, and the tiny space is decorated with special touches that you might find in your grandmother’s home, such as bouquets of dried roses and pretty flowered teacups. A black and white photo of a young Maude on her wedding day sits on a counter. The service was impeccable, the food was interesting and delicious, and the whole evening was very special. The fun actually began on New Year’s Day when I tried to get our reservations at Maude, so there was a lot of anticipation leading up to the big night, and the meal was worth every moment.
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The calendar for Maude Restaurant opens on the first of the month for the following month. You can try by phone or on their website. On January 1 as I was driving with family members to Knott’s Berry Farm, I excused myself from the conversation at 10am and madly tried to get a reservation online but wasn’t having luck. So after about an hour, I just put it out of my mind to enjoy the day at the farm with my niece and nephew. When I got home late that night, I went online to check out the situation and lo and behold the February calendar had opened and there were still a few openings left, one of which worked in our schedule. The date was set for dinner at Maude Restaurant in Beverly Hills for February 3 at 5:30pm. Diners are required to pre-pay both the prix-fixe dinner and the gratuity in advance. And there are no refunds or transfers, so it’s best to make sure the date you choose works in your favor.
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The door opened at 5:30pm on the dot. We counted seven tables inside the cozy space, that sat from two to six diners for a total of 25 seats. There were also four seats at the counter which gives those diners a birds-eye view into the kitchen. We realized we had been in the space once before. We recognized the tile flooring and the shape of the space as that of the former Pici Enoteca, where we enjoyed pizza and pasta back in 2012. But this meal was going to be different. Chef Curtis Stone realized his dream of a small restaurant where a single ingredient is the inspiration for a nine-course tasting menu. Sometimes that ingredient is the main course, other times it plays a supporting role. Past months have focused on avocado, figs, apples, chili and white truffles. For 2016, ingredients to be featured are garlic, pistachio and zucchini to name a few. Be sure to check the Maude Restaurant website for specifics. But I just knew I had to get a February reservation because the featured ingredient was the potato, which is basically my second favorite food after chocolate.
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I can honestly say that I loved seven of the nine courses and the other two were just not my taste. But everything was beautifully presented and artfully served. It was a two and a half hour dinner that started with mousseline, which was almost like drinking mashed potatoes topped with a perfect egg yolk. A very creative potato “salad” followed and pictured here is my favorite course of the evening, tiny dumplings in a potato broth. There was also a terrine with bacon and smoked oyster, which was Matt’s favorite course of the night. Of course a pasta course and a wonderful meat course which was oxtail with black truffles and bone marrow. A cheese course with cubes of sweet potato, and lastly dessert. Flash photography is not allowed, so my pictures didn’t turn out well even with Matt holding a candle for lighting. At the end of the meal, we were presented with a beautiful printed take-home menu as well as two mini potato knishes to enjoy for later. Was it expensive? Yes, it was a special occasion splurge. But it was such a truly unique experience that we are seriously considering returning in April, where the celebrated ingredient will be garlic.
By Trish Procetto