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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Canelé Restaurant

CANELE RESTAURANT
It's all about the food...

Canelés from Canelé
Canelé - "...a small French pastry with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. The dessert, which is in the shape of small, striated cylinder approximately two inches in height, is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France, but can often be found in Parisian patisseries as well. Made from egg, sugar, milk and flour, flavored with rum and vanilla, the custard batter is baked in a mold, giving the canelé a caramelized crust and custard-like inside."  Wikipedia
Corina Weibel. The name conjures up images of food and wine. Ms. Weibel, along with General Manager and business partner, Jane Choi, own Canelé Restaurant in Atwater Village (Los Angeles). Early on, Ms. Weibel cooked for Nancy Silverton (Campanile) for five years and with Suzanne Goin (Lucques) for three. 
For those fortunate enough to live in or near Atwater Village, Los Angeles, its an easy walk or drive to great food. No, it's not decorated with fancy motifs, crystal chandeliers or other slick paraphernalia. No, the servers aren't polished and aloof. And, no, the kitchen isn't tucked away in the back, as if the "magic" of cooking should be hidden from view.
 
Instead, you will find a warm and inviting, albeit extremely casual, restaurant, reminiscent of small, out of the way cafes in Paris or the French countryside. A large window at the entry holds a community table, for those who prefer to dine in a large group; whether with friends or would-be friends. Smaller tables, for two or four, are scattered throughout the small space. Mirrors, which make the space appear larger, are hung on several walls. And don't expect a white table cloth - you won't find any - and you won't mind, after taking that first bite of food.When you meet either Ms. Weibel or Ms. Choi, you know, immediately, why you feel at home. Both greet you with warm smiles and welcoming gestures, as you are seated. You will be handed a menu, as in any other restaurant. However, you may also read the items from a chalkboard, incorporated onto a wing wall.
Okay, now, the best part: food. Rather than list my favorites, here is a selected list of items from Canele's dinner menu:
Beginning
gazpacho with soft cooked egg and toast
pissaladiere with a salad of fresh market herbs
dandelion salad with capers, parsley, garlic, croutons and sherry vinaigrette
coop's omelet with a salad of fresh market herbs
Middle
roast chicken with socca, braised leeks, harissa and french feta
seared market fish with couscous, baby beets, avocado and tzatziki
bistro steak with sauce bordelaise, pommes anna and creamed spinach
herb-roasted leg of lamb with ratatouille and tapenade
End
buena chica cheesecake
flourless mocha cake with vanilla ice cream
profiteroles with chocolate sauce
On a recent visit to Canelé, for brunch, we sat at the bar, which gave us ample time to view the workings of the kitchen - watching Chef, Aliza Miner, at work. While dining on our omelets, a woman sat beside us, striking up a conversation. She made it quite clear, she drove all the way from Santa Monica, because this was, for her, "one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles."
Canelé is rooted in a sense of "place" which feels authentic. It doesn't have to try hard because it is, simply and elegantly, about excellent food served in a lively, warm  and friendly neigborhood environment.
If you live in west LA, or in Pasadena, or anywhere within driving distance, consider a trip into Atwater Village to experience the warm vibes and great food of Canelé. You won't be disappointed.
PS - As you walk out the door, you will be gifted with a delicious canelé - the restaurant's namesake pastry. We also recommend either the Buena Chica Cheesecake or Chef Aliza Miner's, Gingerbread Molasses Cake for dessert.
Below, Cornina Weible, interviewed -  DineLA.com

Canelé Restaurant

DineLA

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