Joachim Splichal's Paperfish
Like a powerful army with connections at the farmers' market, Joachim Splichal's conquering forces continue to march through Southern California, installing the chef's brand of glossy modern cuisine in every corner of the land. And here is his newest outpost, a bright, streamlined fish restaurant in the former Maple Drive space, as open as a Beverly Hills cocktail party and furnished with a warehouseful of Knoll. The menu, an Asiany document that reads like a relic of Wolfgang Puck's 1990s, is somewhat of a departure for Splichal, whose structures have up to now leaned toward the European. (The executive chef is Yianni Koufodontis, late of Petros in the South Bay.) There are sashimi dishes, including not entirely persuasive takes on post-Matsuhisa standards like kanpachi sashimi and scallops buried under avocado puree, as well as the inevitable fried oysters and miso-marinated black cod. The main courses — seafood risotto, fried skate with lemon and pine nuts, monkfish saltimbocca— tend to be more pan-Mediterranean in the classical Splichal style.
A paperfish, a kind of scorpion fish, is a tropical creature that looks very much like a drowned leaf in its reef environment. More to the point, the name puns on the French technique of cooking fish en papillote, roasted with aromatics in a moist fold of parchment — or here, plastic — and when it comes time for the main course, almost every table has a cart parked alongside it, manned by a captain who frees the Florida snapper from an array of what looks like the free-gifts-with-purchase you get when you buy fifty dollars' worth of Lancome products at Nordstrom. The snapper, firm and moistened with a lemongrass broth poured from a pitcher, is very good. Thankfully, paperfish itself, venomous spines and all, is nowhere to be seen. 345 N. Maple Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 858-6030.
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