100 Favorite Dishes

1: Spago's Veal Filet Mignon Tartare

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Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 7:26 AM

click to enlarge Spago's veal tartare - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Spago's veal tartare
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.

1: Spago's Veal Filet Mignon Tartare.

When it arrives at your table, Wolfgang Puck's iteration of veal tartare may look more like a Sally Mann photograph than your dinner. But inside the twin marrow bones is not, well, marrow, but the centerpiece of a beautifully orchestrated dish. A perfect dice of raw veal -- neither too coarse nor too fine, the mistake some chefs make with tartare -- is topped with a thin layer of smoked mascarpone, a visual reference to the fine strata of fat that comes atop many ramekins of pâté.

The veal, a combination of the loin and tenderloin, is buttery and minimally seasoned, the smoked mascarpone, a drizzle of Tuscan olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt providing counterpoint. Accompanying the bone pillars is a tangle of lightly dressed greens and fried garlic, two crisp baguette toasts -- stacked lengthwise like planks at a tiny construction site -- and a small pool of caper and shallot-laced mustard sauce. You're given a dainty spoon with which to lever the tartare onto your toasts, a utensil that will possibly engender dreams of high tea service. And if you've tired, over the years, of the more predictable variations of steak tartare, often comprised of bland cuts of beef, maybe topped with a raw quail egg like an afterthought, this dish will erase all sad memories. It's a playful, perfectly executed and incredibly flavorful take on a classic presentation. Order the dish, and maybe some others. Sit in the patio. Pray for rain, if only so that you can watch the roof roll in overhead like mechanical cloud cover.
click to enlarge Spago's veal tartar - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Spago's veal tartar

100: Lukshon's Dan Dan Noodles 99: Cemita de Milanesa at Cemitas Poblanos Elviritas #1 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 14: Spago's Baked Jonagold Apple 13: Rivera's Tortillas Florales 12: Kalbi at Soot Bull Jeep 11: Sugar and Spice Beignets at Hatfield's 10: Ceviche Mixto at Mo-Chica 9: Pastrami on Rye at Langer's Delicatessen 8: Smoked Salmon with Mango at Kiriko 7. Water-Boiled Fish at Chung King. 6. Mole de los Dioses at Rocio's Mole de los Dioses 5. Crispy Pig Head at Animal 4: Butterscotch Budino at Mozza 3: Roasted Kabocha Squash at Lucques 2: Philly Cheesesteak at The Bazaar

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