Going to Red Medicine for my friend Gloria’s birthday, with whom I first visited Red Medicine back in March, along with a handful of others meant there would be great dinner conversation, but also family style service, leading to hastily taken pictures so as not to impinge upon the dining experience of others. Yet again, then, the beauty of Jordan’s food doesn’t always come through.
We started off with charred Brussels sprouts tossed in fish sauce with prawn chips and caramelized shallots.
Following one of my favorite cabbage preparations, which puts to shame any bacon and butter-laced admixture I’ve ever made, were diaphanous rice paper wraps with rock shrimp, jackfruit, black garlic and bean sprouts.
This salad contained the meatiest maitake mushrooms I have ever tasted.
Unfortunately, this picture does the utmost violence to Jordan’s heirloom rice porridge with a slow cooked farm egg, long beans and Santa Barbara uni. Before all of the ingredients were mixed and piled on my plate, it looked like the most immaculately prepared bibimbap.
The salad of early season legumes and roots was on the bitterer side, but crispy pieces of bayonne ham provided a much appreciated salty touch.
Next an intensely flavored pork shoulder caramelized in black vinegar with goji berry, lily bulb and dried almond.
A newer item on the menu, the ocean trout cured in sugar cane, which allows it to retain its orange hue, with grapefruit, nasturtium, trout roe and burnt chili boasts a veritable playground of textures.
One of the dishes that didn’t wow me, due to a lack of salt–no surprise there–was the turmeric-dusted Alaskan halibut with coconut, passion fruit, chamomile and succulents.
Any outstanding dissatisfaction from the halibut was removed posthaste with the cromesquis of beef cheek, cashew, asian pear, radish, raisin and romanesco. The fried spheres concealed the bovine’s incredibly unctuous countenance.
Apparently not content to only send out one beef dish, Jordan sent out another: a wagyu beef brisket glazed with palm sugar and fish sauce. For my first taste, I made a lettuce wrap with pickled carrots and cucumber but soon jettisoned that consumption method when a server brought out artichokes en barigoule with green apple, green mango, green tea and tofu skin. From then on, I alternated between forkfuls of the brisket’s fatcap and the vegetal greens.
Steven Fretz, former chef de cuisine at Michael Mina’s XIV and soon-to-be chef at Curtis Stone’s new LA eatery, sat across from me throughout the meal and was kind enough to offer me a few bites of his à la carte order of pintade fermier (a French guinea hen) cooked in caramel with cinnamon, mustard lettuce, coriander, crispy onion roots and served with rice.
Zingerman’s, Ann Arbor’s lone gastronomic landmark, makes some good sandwiches, but Jordan’s version of “bahn mi” made with foie gras, forcemeat, jalapeno and carrot matches–and probably exceeds–any sandwich on their menu; it’s spicy, crispy and has a velvety filling that can only be achieved with foie.
On to Jordan’s masterful desserts: (1) lemongrass pot de creme, sweet potato ice cream, red bull pate de fui, orange blossom, bergamot and fennel fronds, (2) Bitter chocolate, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), oats, parsnips, brown butter and soy milk sorbet, (3) Rhubarb, mahlab, hibiscus,
And then the pièce de résistance. Never before have I tasted–thought of or heard of–caramelized profiteroles (paired with cognac custard, mango, cola and black sesame) with the choux pastry as crunchy as cracklings. But I’m sure in the weeks and months ahead, they will start appearing on myriad LA menus. It’s become increasingly clear that Red Medicine and Jordan’s intellectual property is becoming a hub for plagiarists–from Raphael’s pachydermal chef to Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio–who eat at Red Medicine and soon thereafter purloin Jordan’s innovative plating style, fraudulently claiming it as their own! And down I step from the soapbox.