When I told my special friend in Paris that I was going to eat at Papilles in Hollywood, he asked me if I knew what the word meant. He said, “these are the cells that capture the taste which creates the sense of taste in our mouth.” – Ahhh, tastebuds! Of course Papilles sounds much better phonetically, rather than it’s sister name here in the states. Papilles on Franklin recently celebrated it’s year anniversary which is tucked away in a tiny strip mall next to the 101 Cafe. Surrounded by a slew of small businesses including a dry cleaner and a Chinese restaurant, Papilles is like discovering a little treasure in a sea of overly hyped and mediocre restaurants in the City of Angeles.
Too many choices on a menu isn’t always a good thing for a restaurant, which can sometimes lead to an unfocused pool of selections and dishes, that are poorly executed. We were offered no set menu, but instead we were greeted by one of the restaurant’s proprietors, Santos who was dressed very dapper the night my friend and I dined at the restaurant. Santos creates a well rounded dining experience, especially when he speaks about his pride and joy – wine! Aside from owning a downtown wine bar, Mignon, Santos can passionately speak about all of the eclectic wines featured at the restaurant, because he picks it for Papilles. Guests are also encouraged to visit the wall of wine that lines the backend of the restaurant, grab a bottle that’s clearly and moderately priced, and bring it back to their table to enjoy that evening. Santos also explains the options for dining which change weekly, but include a choice between 2 starter dishes, 2 main and 2 desserts. The entire prix fix dinner is roughly $36 per person, with options to add black winter truffles to any meal for an added $20.
On the night my friend and I dined at Papilles, we were offered an additional starter dish of smoked duck carpaccio with a mustard grain accompaniment. The dish paired well with a beautiful sparkling wine from Arbois in Jura, France from Domaine de la Tournelle Petillant Naturell de Raisin. The red-skinned light colored grape is often confused as a rosé. The strawberry essence was rounded out with a nice leathery finish creating a a very sexy prelude to an exquisite dinner. Since there were two of us we decided to try each dish and share inorder to maximize our initial dining experience at Papilles.
The Frisee salad was perfectly salted and dressed with a champagne vinagrette and featured a fresh selection of roasted winter vegetables. We also shared the Celeriac Velouté. Celeriac, not to be confused with celery, is a winter, wild vegetable root that is used in soups and seen more in Europe, rather than here in the States. The delicious puree was a nice pairing with the baguette that is flown in from a Tribeca bakery in New York that Santos loves. He told us he was in search of the perfect baguette and couldn’t seem to find one in L.A.
For the main course it was hard to decide which was better. The roasted chicken exploded with flavor and was very tender. It was accompanied with two sauces including a chicken jus and salsa verde. Wilted kale lined the dish adding color and crunch to a well seasoned winter dish. The Sea Bass on the other hand, was light and flaky, but equally tasty. The Meyer lemon nage added depth and complexity to a familiar fish.
For dessert you are offered a cheese plate with nuts and chutney or a Meyer Lemon Tart. The tart was creamy, yet smooth and had all of the mouthwatering flavors of Meyer lemon atop a buttery crust. The cheese was well picked and completed a meal that will be quite memorable for some time to come.
I can’t say enough good about Papilles, other than you must try this gem of a restaurant. With only a few choices on the menu, Chef Tim Carey (Former chef at Patina) can focus on his love and expertise of refined sauces. Both Carey and Santos are inspired by the bistronomique movement that is happening in Paris, which has less emphasis on old world heavy sauces, and great emphasis on simple, yet elegant and creative cuisine, at more affordable prices. Both Carey and Santos understand modern living of quality and fresh ingredients without all the fuss.
Papilles on Franklin is located at 6221 Franklin Avenue. Visit: www.papillesla.com