The Monster heads over to Cooks County after hearing varying reports. “It’s fantastic” one person chimes. “It’s blah” another reports. “Our table was split, some loved, some hated” comes a last word on the new restaurant.
It’s a menu where The Monster is left scratching his head. Divided into snacks, appetizers, mains and sides not a whole lot is speaking to The Monster. Perhaps this is why the reviews are so scattered. The space itself is attractive enough with an open kitchen and soft lighting though whoever programs the music is flat out in need of therapy. Schizophrenic with a side of are you kidding? The Monster loves diversity in his music but this is making him jumpy.
The Pacific seafood soup with Dungeness crab, mussels, clams, white shrimp and Romesco is a must get. Passed that, the Idaho trout with celery root puree and toasted hazelnut brown butter perhaps. Does anyone get overly excited about trout? On an ever changing menu for you meat lovers on this night there is a wood grilled pork loin with buckwheat polenta, long cooked greens and grilled bacon or a poor man’s beef tenderloin with turnips, arugula and mustard butter. Turnips, really?
Starting things off with a spretzel (spelt pretzel) with mustard dipping sauce. It comes out and is the temperature of the surface of the sun. The Monster gets an inadvertent steam from the heat emanating off of it. When it finally cools down (a good five minutes later) it proves to be ok. A bit hard and stiff and the mustard sauce needs work.
Next up are steamed Carlsbad mussels, green garlic, white wine, pickled chili, fresh bay laurel and aioli toast. They happen to be fantastic. Rich flavors and meaty mussels. Must get some bread to soak up the delicious broth. Things are looking up.
The trout is mighty nice. For trout. If The Monster never eats trout again he’d be fine with it. So there is that. Order the trout if nothing else speaks to you.
The seafood soup is like a less interesting Cioppino. Needs more kick, needs more taste. It seems this is the restaurant’s MO. One dish shines while the next leaves you uninspired. This explains the varying reviews and reports back.
It is dessert where Cook’s County shines. The sticky date pudding with tangerines andbrown sugar ice cream is off the charts awesome. As is the strawberry-rhubarb semifreddo with red wine strawberries and key lime cookies. The kumquat cheesecake with candied kumquats and chocolate drizzle may be the best of the lot. Only the chocolate buck cake with cardamom coffee ice cream proves a bit of a disappointment but perhaps that is merely in comparison to the other desserts ordered.
So, should you head to Cook’s County? Yes. No. Maybe.
Why go? You’re life is filled with peaks and valleys.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
8009 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048