When Jet Tila did a pop-up dinner at Breadbar on West Third Street this week, something was missing, and that was anything Thai.
Tila was L.A.'s man-about-Thai-Town before he left for Las Vegas to become executive chef of Wazuzu, The Wynn Encore's pan-Asian restaurant.
His last appearance at Breadbar was an Asian cooking class. This time Tila took on a new role, as front man for chef friend Alex Ageneau, who is currently sous chef at The Langham's Royce in Pasadena.
Except for an almost undetectable dash of Madras curry in a halibut dish, there wasn't a hint of Asia in Ageneau's five-course menu. If anything, it was French, because Ageneau is from Nantes.
The theme was Bistronomics 1.0, and the concept was to make fine dining affordable, although still fine. The food had to be local and sustainable, and it also had to incorporate the latest five-star chef techniques. There was, for example, pale green herb foam next to roasted garlic puree in the first course, which was a roasted stalk of salsify meant to signify a tree fallen in the forest. Smoked herring snow turned up in the next course, a single golden potato with salmon roe and cucumber vinaigrette, capped with a ribbon of crème fraîche gelée.
Thinly sliced local baby carrots soaked in cara cara orange sauce came with the butter-poached halibut, and squid ink hollandaise formed a dark design alongside sliced skirt steak topped with diced grilled calamari and pineapple radish.
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The cheese course disappeared into dessert, a caramelized golden apple with melted Brie, toasted walnuts and a strip of crunchy phyllo.
Tila and Ageneau are so behind the idea of Bistronomics that they're going to promote it with a second go-round at Breadbar April 17 and 18. How they'll deal with the theme is hard to imagine It's going to be "Playing with Your Food," says Tila. And that means eating without knives, forks and spoons.