14. Spago's Baked Jonagold Apple

Spago's baked Jonagold apple
Spago's baked Jonagold apple
A. Scattergood

Celebrating this year's Best of L.A. issue -- now out in print and online -- we're counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.

14. Spago's Baked Jonagold Apple.

When Spago closed its Beverly Hills doors over the summer, for a $4 million overhaul, it was not simply for a bit of fresh paint. Wolfgang Puck and his crew, many of whom have been with the Austrian-born chef for well over a decade and in some cases closer to two, were busy in the restaurant's giant kitchen -- the view of which now opened up by huge glass doors -- completely overhauling the menu while the dining room was getting a pretty swank redesign. And while Puck, executive chef Lee Hefter and Spago chef de cuisine Tetsu Yahagi were playing with the savory side of the menu, longtime Spago pastry chef Sherry Yard was maybe having even more fun.

Despite the fact that Spago's furniture and the plates and bowls and general ambiance are all a bit less formal, what Yard produces in her pastry kitchen has hardly been streamlined -- or simplified. The dessert menu, which is still being changed -- and will always be in flux, as are the fruits that Yard brings back from the nearby farmers markets -- recently featured some extraordinary odes to chocolate, including a square chocolate tart that operated as an open box, filled with chocolate truffles and triangles of chocolate tuile that formed a beautiful dark sculpture.

But the most stunning dessert was the "givre of the day," a single Jonagold apple that looked more like a ball of old-fashioned marzipan on the plate than it did a piece of fruit. The apple had lately made its way from Mike Cirrone's market stall to Yard's kitchen, where it was lightly poached, the interior mostly replaced by a mace-spiked parsnip cake, some Tahitian vanilla creme and green apple sorbet, and then topped with a carapace of brûléed sugar. (This was the lunch version; at dinner, the turnip cake was replaced by an apple soufflé.)

The apple top became a lid, coated with a fine layer of sugar which gleamed in the low light. Tiny apple orbs and pomegranate seeds were strewn around the plate. And lastly, thin filaments of spun sugar were perched atop the brûléed apple, maybe signaling, via faint sugar radio waves, to the pastry kitchen, that all was as it should be. Because if anybody could manage that one, it would be Sherry Yard.

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98: Chichen Itza's Cochinita Pibil

97: Tsukemen at Tsujita L.A.

96: La Cevicheria's Bloody Clam Ceviche

95: Duck Shawarma at Momed

94: Peruvian Chicken at Pollo a la Brasa

93: Squash Blossom Quesadilla at Antojitos Carmen

92: Thai Boat Noodles at Pa-Ord

91: Baco Mercat's Bazole

90: Furikake Kettle Corn at A-Frame

89: Live Santa Barbara Spot Prawns at Providence

88: Fried Pig Tails at Night + Market

87: Egg Salad Sandwich at Euro Pane

86: Galbi Jjim at Soban

85: Truffle Honey-Laced Fried Chicken at Manhattan Beach Post

84: Mool Naeng Myun at Yu Chic Naeng Myun

83: Chicken Vampiro at Mexicali Taco & Co

82: Sooo Cali Dog at Dog Haus

81: White Anchovy, Tomato and Fresno Chile Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza

80: Shu Mai at Elite Restaurant

79: Tandoori Chicken at Al-Watan

78: Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding at The Hungry Cat

77: Agedashi Tofu at Izakaya Bincho

76: Pork Chop at Salt's Cure

75: Porcetto at Sotto

74: The Sea Urchin Tostada at La Guerrerense

73: Wood-Roasted English Peas at Tar & Roses

72: Persian Mulberries at Weiser Family Farms

71: Hunan-Style Preserved Pork with Tofu at Hunan Chilli King

70: Brisket Banh Mi at Gjelina Take Away

69: Yukhwe Bibimbap at Oo-Kook Korean BBQ

68: Lamb Pie at Beijing Pie House

67: Son of a Gun's Uni and Burrata

66: Pastrami Reuben at Art's Delicatessen

65: Beef Koobideh at Kabab Mahaleh

64: The Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers

63: Slippery Shrimp at Yang Chow

62: Whole Channel Island Red Sea Urchin at Water Grill

61: Going Dutch Panini at Bread Lounge

60: Huckleberry's Green Eggs & Ham

59: Pickled Watermelon Salad at L&E Oyster Bar

58: Spaghettini with Abalone, Pickled Cod Roe and Truffles at n/naka

57: Brown Brown Bread Ice Cream at Scoops Westside

56: Smothered Chicken at R and R Soul Food

55: Duck Fried Rice at Jar

54: Taco Sampler at Guisados

53: The Sycamore Kitchen's Double BLT-A Sandwich

52: House Wonton Soup at China Cafe

51: Almond Croissant at Proof Bakery

50: The Southern Fry at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

49: The Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium

48: Papaya Salad at Krua Siri

47: Lucky Baldwins' Traditional Full English Breakfast

46: Edomae Tendon Bowl at Hannosuke

45: The Pescado Zarandeado at Coni'Seafood

44: Hot Wings at Beer Belly

43: Raw Kale Salad at Elf Cafe

42: Steak Tartare Tacos at MessHall

41: Banh Mi at Buu Dien

40: Sicilian Slice at Pizzanista

39: Grilled Baby Goat T-bone at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza Salumi Bar

38: Papri Chaat at Jay Bharat

37: The Island Combo at TiGeorges' Chicken

36: Tacos Al Pastor at Tacos Leo

35: "Sandwich" at Roma Italian Deli

34: Bossam at Kobawoo House

33: Cauliflower T-Bone at Superba Snack Bar

32: Pupusa Revuelta at Atlacatl

31: Bonjiri Yakitori at Kokekokko

30: Crispy Pork with Morning Glory at Crispy Pork Gang & Grill

29: Sashimi Special at Sushi Gen

28: Tamal de Mole Negro at Guelaguetza

27: The Hickoryburger at Apple Pan

26: Lobster Thermidor at Musso & Frank's

25: Poached Pear Coupe at Tavern

24: Coconut Bavarois at Red Medicine

23: The Tasting Kitchen's Pork Rillettes

22: Beef Ribs at Bludso's BBQ

21: Anson Mills Grits & Eggs at Milo & Olive

20: Lamb Dip at Philippe the Original

19: Salsa de Chorizo Con Cesina at Gish Bac

18: Matsuhisa's Yellowtail Scallion Donburi

17: Green Curry Mussels at Jitlada

16: Creamy Pumpkin Soup at BierBeisl

15: Fish Taco from Ricky's Fish Tacos

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