If you haven't been to A.O.C. Winebar (opened 2002), then you haven't really been to L.A. We all know in this town restaurants come and go as fast as the next waiter auditioning for a film role – unless they're helmed by powerhouse, James Beard award-winning chef & restaurateur Suzanne Goin, also of Lucques (1998), The Hungry Cat (2005 with husband David Lentz), and most recently Tavern (2009 with A.O.C. partner Caroline Styne).
Now that the History lesson's over, let's learn some French. A.O.C. stands for appellation d'origine de controlee, which literally translates to "controlled destination of origin." Basically, it's a government-certified seal indicating that certain wines, cheeses, and butters come from the region in which they're named – think Cotes du Rhone wine from the Rhone Valley. But, I digress. Now it's time for, you guessed it, Home Economics.
In honor of Bastille Day, tonight the chef will be preparing a special $45 prix-fixe 3-course meal with Goat Cheese Tartine, Bouillabaisse or Niman Ranch Steak Frites, and Trois Fromage or Beignets. Call 323-653-6359 to reserve your siege.
If you can't make it tonight, here's a few small plates to order next time. (You might develop a serious addiction after trying the mind-blowing Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed with Parmesan.)
- "i died and went to bacon heaven" salty 'n sweet, more like me-drool, Medjool Roasted Dates Stuffed with Parmesan & Wrapped in Bacon ($6)
- you'll wanna eat your veggies this way every day, spicy 'n creamy Grilled Leeks with Fresh Burrata & Salbitxada Sauce Salad ($14)
- tart 'n bittersweet Seal Bay Triple Creme Brie with Cherries, Hazelnuts & Arugula Salad ($14)
- must-order, mouth-watering, bread-dip worthy Sea Bass with Artichokes, Braised Bacon & Garlic White Wine Sauce ($16)
- borderline heart attack buttery, nice wine flavor, slightly chewy Hanger Steak with Roasted Shallots & Red Wine Butter Sauce ($18)
- large and in charge Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan & Green Garlic ($12)
- small and pop-worthy, super buttery Crushed Fingerling Potatoes with Creme Fraiche & Chives ($9)
- warm, spongey, hint of citrus Chocolate French Toast with Crushed Hazelnuts & Coffee Ice Cream ($10)
I've been to A.O.C. many times over the past 7 years – mostly because their Bacon-Wrapped Dates are unbeatable, and it's one of my favorite spots to take friends who've got a little extra cash flow.
Last week I went for my friend's 30th birthday celebration and immediately had to feed my addiction by ordering the Bacon Wrapped Dates – it's Last Meal On Earth (LMOE) good, seriously. The saltiness and Sinful Fat of the Bacon hits your lips as your teeth pierce through the Crispy Pork and into the Sweet Flesh of the Roasted Medjool Date...ok, I think I'm having a relapse. My hands just left the keyboard to reach for AOC's speedial # on my cell phone. Where was I? Ah yes, the Sweet Date, where wrapped inside is a Treasure Trove of Warm Parmesan. I mean honestly, can you think of anything more delicious? I can't.
Next up, the Grilled Leeks with Burrata. Two of my favorite things married together on one perfect plate? I couldn't resist. The Leeks are tender, and the creaminess of the Fresh Burrata really balances out the surprisingly Spicy Salbitxada Sauce (Blanched & Pan Fried Smokey Almonds, Garlic, Parsley, Tomatoes, Red Wine Vinegar & Bixto Peppers.)
The birthday girl suggested the Seal Bay Triple Creme & Cherry Salad. Tart Dark Cherries in a Sweet Balsamic Wine reduction, Peppery Arugula, Crunchy Hazelnuts & Creamy Bitter Brie – it's one rich dish.
I definitely found a new found love in my new favorite Market Fish dish – tender, flaky, melts in your mouth Sea Bass, Citrusy Artichokes Hearts & Leaves, Sweet Carrot Rounds & as-thick-as-Pork-Belly Braised Bacon, all in a light Garlicky White Wine Sauce, topped with Creme Fraiche & Parsley. What a mouthful! (TIP: You'll probably wanna ask the waitress for extra bread – if not consumed already at the beginning of the meal with their Spicy Olive Tapenade – because you'll want to schlop up all of that White Wine Sauce with Bacon Fat Drippings.)
A good friend of mine, also A.O.C. obsessed, recommended I order the Hanger Steak. The glob of Red Wine Shallot Butter is sweet, rich, and melts right in front of your eyes like a magic trick. Unfortunately, the steak is a little chewy, but it's thinly sliced, and has a full-bodied red wine flavor.
As far as the sides, the large slices of Parmesan on the Asparagus pep it up, and the Green Garlic is a unique addition. The long-cut Chives on the once-again super buttery Fingerling Potatoes add a nice bite, but I could've sacrificed both these dishes for an extra order of Bacon-Wrapped Dates!
For Dessert, the always chocolate loving birthday girl ordered the Chocolate French Toast. If you're looking for dense chocolate cake, you won't be getting it here. Instead, the dish is light and airy with a great Cinnamon-Orange Rind-Coffee flavor that we all enjoyed more than we thought we would.
As you can tell, I can't say enough fabulous things about A.O.C. It's the perfect place for a party on the upstairs rooftop patio, a Cheese & Charcuterie plate at the bar, or a cozy romantic meal in the contemporary, warm dining room.
So Depeche Vu already and Bon Appetit!
8022 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90048. 323-653-6359.