Eatery - Dominique's Kitchen (CA)
522 S Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Pricing - $$/$$$ | Dining - Dressy Casual, Casual | Cuisine - French
It's been ages since Duc and I went out for a date night (we tend to stay inside, cook, and watch a movie) but even when we do, he can't help but lug a camera in, especially when the lighting is perfect for photography. Since Dominique's Kitchen was so far from where we were (it's in Redondo Beach and we came from his place in Huntington Beach), we opted for an early dinner so we'd have time to spend in the area, particularly the boardwalk. My brother told me that the arcade there still had Time Crisis 1-4 so Duc and I were eager to get some shooting in afterward. It's definitely a game that we have a history with and enjoy. 4pm was the first time for dinner at Dominique's but there were already a few groups seated inside when we walked in. The parking lot is tiny so keep that in mind, and the ramp is a bit steep (lowered cars beware!). Inside the restaurant, it really did look like the living room outside of a person's kitchen. Everything was homey and comfortable. Outside, there was an enclosed patio that felt more like the setting for a house gathering than a restaurant. We sat out there to get the lovely sunlight in and were pleasantly surprised to see fresh herbs growing in planters in the "backyard" patio.
We don't typically order wine when we go out for dinner but when Chef Dominique came out to check on our table (as he did with all the others), we couldn't resist his charm nor his proud insistence on sipping from his wine selection. A glass of 2012 Spellbound Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa for each of us proved a great recommendation, and we knew since he suggested it for the evening that he had great taste. As we carefully considered the menu to make our choices, we broke into freshly baked bread that had a thick fluffiness so lovely, we needed a second basket. The amuse bouche for the evening was a white bean salad (a tad undercooked) and a miniature handled bowl with marinated olives. To start, our first order was of the Classic Escargot ($9.99 - imported from Bourgogne, France and baked in garlic butter). These came in with the appropriate utensils - spoon-shaped tongs and delicate fork - which made for a richer experience, and the escargot itself was plump and wonderful. The butter was just a touch saltier than I preferred but Duc thought it was just right; either way, we dispensed of these quickly.
The starters did not stop there though. We barely had lunch so were in need of more. At a French restaurant, I cannot deny a good Onion Soup ($6.99 - caramelized onion with two Gruyere cheeses), and Dominique's Kitchen did not disappoint. A hefty portion was brought out, and my oh my, that cheese! There was more than one slice of bread inside as well which seemed only necessary considering the richness of the broth. We nearly fought over the last slurps of this. A special for the evening was their Country Pate which came as a thick slab with some toast and gherkins. The peppercorn crust was a nice touch, and we enjoyed the texture but alas, it did come off less flavorful than we liked. Next time we'll have to try the pâté they have on the regular menu!
By this point in the meal, we were unsure if we could handle the entrees we had first ordered. It was a lot of food after all! However, we took one look at the plates when they came out and decided we sure as heck should try (but we did fail and brought some home, oops). Duc went for the Roasted Scottish Salmon ($17.99 - served with sauteed kale, tomato, basil, garlic, black olives, and an olive oil emulsion) which seemed to have a fresh olive tapenade of sorts on top. The bed of kale was a nice touch and certainly helped soak up excess juices from the moist salmon. It was actually quite the behemoth of a piece of fish and though good in texture, we thought the size may have prevented all of the seasoning and flavors from finding their way into the salmon. The skin was perfect, crisp and light, and the flesh was tender but just few kisses more of the other ingredients' influence would have been nice. My entree was the Wild Boston Sea Scallops ($19.99 - with crushed potatoes, shallots, parsley, garlic and lobster reduction au jus, and farmers market vegetables), a sizeable serving as well of the soft seafood. I enjoyed the presentation and the reduced au jus quite much, and the scallops were perfectly cooked. The vegetables on top for the evening included arugula and asparagus but the mixture of raw and cooked was a little confusing. As a whole, it was a lovely dish and an easy way not to overstuff one's self.
Now, one of the reasons why we came to Dominique's Kitchen was because I had read a few press releases about the events they were putting on and new items they were releasing. Of those, the Camembert Flambé caught my eye so we had to get our hands on that. I posted this picture toward the end of the post because we were eating it throughout the night and the inclusion of sliced apple underneath the camembert gave it a bit of sweetness. This cheese was doused in what we believe is white wine and then set afire tableside. It was toasted well on the outside and naturally soft on the inside (though not warm), a great starter to spread on that aforementioned tasty bread. Our dessert was their Panna Cotta with Berries Compote ($4.99 as are all their desserts) which came out to us via Dominique's wife and co-owner, Liza Theval. It jiggled as adorably as well-crafted pannacotta ought to, so much so that I really wanted to record its quivering every time the table was touched. Each spoonful melted in the mouth without effort, and the compote was a sweet touch to each bite. As tasty as it was, it was definitely not made in the traditional way as the base was a vanilla gelatin more alike Hong Kong almond pudding but that did not deter us from doing all but lick the plate clean. What a beautiful way to end the meal!
Photography by Duc Duong.