Review: Picca

2 March 2014

I had decided not to write too many reviews for this trip to LA; the only one I had originally planned was for Kiriko, because it deserved a full review. I had also dined at some other places I have reviewed frequently such as Il Grano (review #1, review #2, review #3) and Hakata Yamaya (review #1, review #2), so I will not clutter the list with more glowing reviews of those excellent establishments (the meals were, again, excellent). In addition, I also dined at the excellent back-room Nozawa Bar, which featured another amazing omakase dinner — but I chose to keep the phone off all night as I needed a short break from the heartbreak and chaos that is Ukraine…

Nevertheless, I felt I needed to write a review for Picca. I’ve had some nice food there before, and I have not done a review for it yet. Picca is an excellent and innovative Peruvian small-plates restaurant at the edge of Beverly Hills, and I was looking forward to a good dining experience on this long but wonderful Sunday evening. Everyone was busy a few miles north at the Oscars, and I didn’t care…

It wasn’t very busy and I took a seat at the empty chef’s counter. It’s nice to watch the different stations work here, as the different parts of their menu requires such a separation — from the raw stuff to the grilled to others. I chose a selection of small dishes for this meal.

uni_scallop_tiradito

First up was the uni scallop tiradito. The scallops were nice and large and the urchin was a nice touch, but the whole thing seemed a little sloppy and almost a waste. It didn’t mesh as well as you would have thought. A tighter arrangement would have worked better to be honest.

anticucho_lengua

Next up was the anticucho lengua — the skewered braised ox tongue. Nice flavour, soft texture (maybe a little too soft), but the portion was rather small for such a price.

cartilago

Third up was the cartilago — or chicken cartilage. This dish was fried with peppers and onions. Unfortunately, this was nearly inedible. All I tasted was a thick and chunky batter, and there was almost no cartilage. Have you ever had calamari that was all batter and no squid? This was like that. And the batter was just awful… I abandoned most of this dish.

So far I was not happy with this meal, being half way through. The service has been spotty despite the restaurant being rather empty. Took ages to get anyone’s attention for a drink…

anticucho_culito

The fourth dish was anticucho culito — crispy chicken tail. At least this was much better than the last dish, which was still sitting there, almost taunting me… Not bad, but nothing special here…

arroz_con_erizo

Next up was the arroz con erizo, something of a cross between a paella and risotto, with sea urchin and seafood. This was actually a really good dish. This tells me the main station is still doing good work, and that it’s the other stations (grill, and especially fry) that are not up to par this Sunday evening.

anticucho_corazon

After all that I wanted to give them one more chance, so I added one more, anticucho corazon — the beef heart. This portion was more like it, and it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t anything to write home about…

To be fair, after I complained about the cartilago, they took the price off — though after they had already processed my card (no idea if I was being double-charged). It seems the kitchen was confused, the front-of-house was confused. It’s just way too lax. I know it’s Oscar Sunday, but still, your customers are still customers.

I left without any last drinks or desserts, as I was rather disappointed with this dinner. I’ve had such good food here before, even from the grill and fry stations. This was just not up to par, and I don’t see myself returning here again. A total shame, as this was one of the places I always recommend to people in LA…

Picca
9575 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, California

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