Camphor - Arts District

A friend and I are trying to speed-run some of the latest and greatest while I’m still in LA (especially those places neither of us have been to yet), and last week we hit up Camphor.

Amuse
:robot: :robot: :robot: :robot:
Very good bite, pretty classic flavors (potato & chives).

Bread - époisses butter, honey
:robot: :robot: :robot:
Bread was solid, though the LA restaurant bread game has gotten so strong lately that this faces some stiff competition. Butter was definitely on the funky side (from the cheese). Honey was good.

Gunpowder Shrimp
:robot: :robot: :robot: :robot:
I expected it to be a bit crispier, to be totally honest. Great flavor profile, though. Also good with the bread! My dining companion thought somewhat more highly of the dish than I did; it’s probably a 3.5 from me and a 4.5 from him.

tartare - herb tempura
:robot: :robot: :robot: :robot: :robot:
Maybe the best beef tartare I’ve ever had. For once, the beef had some proper chew & bite to it, without being sinewy. Excellent saucing. Herb tempura seemed totally unnecessary, idk. Couldn’t actually taste any of the herbs very much - feels like the same problem I have with e.g. shiso tempura; all the flavor gets fried out of it.

carpaccio - toro, wagyu
:robot: :robot:
Mackerel was gone from the menu, replaced by this. Bit of a miss for me (though my dining companion liked it enough to trade me the rest of the tartare for it, so ymmv). Felt like the sauce completely drowned out any flavor from either the fish or the meat. I could tell both were pretty high-quality and would’ve been happy with much less dressing. There were some crunchy bits (I forget of what - something bread-like, probably?) which provided some clever textural contrast, which was good, but not enough to save the dish.

mussels - pressed panini(?)
:robot: :robot: :robot: :robot: :robot:
I’m not even a mussels guy, but damn, these were good. Neglected to take a picture of the free bread (rolls) they provided to help with the sauce (they even offered seconds!), which were competitive with the paid bread offering on their menu in terms of overall quality. The pressed panini-bread things were tasty but not really the thing for the sauce (though stacking some mussels on them was an A+ play).

mushroom - rice, madeira
:robot: :robot: :robot:
Good dish, felt like it was drawing a bit more on the classical side of the French Bistro inspiration. Just didn’t stand out very much compared to some of the other highlights. I think some people will appreciate it quite a lot, though.

chicken
:robot: :robot: :robot: :robot:
Dining companion didn’t like it quite as much as I did. Pretty interesting prep. Thyme was just right :ok_hand:

chocolate - hazelnut
:robot: :robot: :robot: :robot: :robot:
I gotta say, I was not prepared for this by the previous reviews. WOW. I don’t even like hazelnut in my desserts, but this was incredible. Would go back for this alone.

kiwi - mint
:robot: :robot: :robot: :robot:
I didn’t expect to like this one as much as I did, either (I wasn’t the one that ordered it). I’m not really big on kiwi, but the kiwi ice cream was fantastic, as were the chunks of kiwi that came along with it. The disk of ice was very clever. I thought it was (lightly) flavored with something like eucalyptus, but it was actually a combination of apple and mint.

bread pudding - hazelnut, vanilla ice cream
:robot: :robot: :robot: :robot:
Possibly I’d have given this a 5-:robot: if I hadn’t been as stuffed as I was by the end (we might’ve overdone it a tiny bit). Very well-prepared, quite interesting to have several intact slices of bread as layers instead of being coarsely chopped up. Left & right ends were eggy, the bits of crust sticking out were crispy, the nutella (or whatever hazelnut creme) under the bread was good (and, as I said above, I don’t even much like hazelnut in desserts), and the ice cream was a thing of beauty - incredibly light & fluffy, it almost felt like ice cream and whipped cream had a torrid affair.

Mignardise
:robot: :robot:
Meh. Just ok.

Service was very good. Damage, after service charge & tax, was $165/head. Bit steep, but as mentioned above, we over-ordered by quite a bit - I think we could have easily left off the carpaccio, an entree (the mushrooms & rice, probably), and two desserts, and still been satisfied. That would’ve brought it to something like $100/head.

Overall, I enjoyed this meal a lot more than I enjoyed my meal at Republique a few days before it. Not everything was an absolute hit, but quite a bit was, and very little of it felt like “more of the same” - there’s definitely some boundary-pushing here. Hope it sticks around.

12 Likes

how was the honey served? on the side?

agree, those mussels are probably my favorite thing on the menu.

Yeah, didn’t snap a picture - think it was in a minature carafe, or something.

1 Like
1 Like

Peony: I find it a little bit difficult to review this restaurant. I like the idea of fusion French and Indian food. I also like the beautiful execution, plating, and quality of the food. But I personally don’t find the flavors up to my expectations. There are a couple of dishes that have the right feel of French and Indian fusion food. However, some other dishes taste like French food with a few Indian spices or Indian food diluted by some French ingredients. Either way, they don’t taste like a unity of both cuisines. I understand fusion of these two cuisines can be very challenging. I hope they can keep on improving and create more exciting, successful dishes.

Warrior: Execution and ingredients are excellent, the dishes are distinctive, yet I’m not a fan at all. I’m not convinced that most of the dish designs have merit. I did like some dishes tonight: the palak-paneer-influenced sautéed spinach (very good and easily best dish of the night), the roasted vegetables (very good), and the simple salad (good). But other dishes tasted like forced attempts to incorporate Indian ingredients into French cuisine or simply misguided ideas. I wasn’t impressed by the mussels dish that other posters raved about. While the mussels themselves were perfectly cooked, I found the moilee sauce clearly inferior to the more flavorful moilee sauces of average Indian restaurants. I preferred the similar, but much more flavorful mussel dish at Saffy’s. I found the mushroom and rice dish over-seasoned, almost grossly so. I wasn’t sold on the combination of curry leaf oil and trout almandine. The strawberry tart was boring. I could see this restaurant getting a Michelin star, but I am a firm dissenter, at least for now. I won’t completely write them off because the cooking talent is obviously there.








4 Likes