Small plates are all the rage here in LA and Bow & Truss in NoHo has made it their specialty. The name is derived from the restaurant’s bow & truss ceiling and is owned by Knitting Factory Entertainment, who also brought us The Federal Bar. The menu, created by Executive Chef Aaron Grissom, is based upon Latin cuisine with a large selection of tapas along with a full complement of entrées, sides, and desserts. The atmosphere is industrial modern. A large patio in front has plenty of seating a bar and lounge area. Indoors there is a large rectangular bar with booths and tables lining the walls and plenty of seats around the bar for lots of good people watching.
We arrived around 7. It was a warm evening so we decided to sit outside on the patio. After looking at the wine list, comprised of a tight selection of domestic, Spanish and Argentinian wines and craft beers we opted for a round of martinis. Always a good choice to get things going while perusing the menu.
The nice thing about small plates is that it’s a progressive meal to be ordered in rounds, much like drinking. Our first round consisted of the ceviche and bacon wrapped shrimp. These plates were beautiful to the eye and an unexpected treat.
The ceviche is Peruvian style made of scallops and shrimp in leche de tigre (tigers milk) served on a breaded deep fried avocado half with chili dusted tortilla strips. This is not your typical citrusy ceviche, it has a nicer blend of citrus, slight sweetness and spice that compliments the seafood and brings out the natural sweetness. The crunch of the avocado crust and tortilla strips adds a nice contrast and compliments the ceviche perfectly.
Bacon wrapped shrimp what’s not to like, it’s wrapped in bacon! The shrimp is chopped and reformed into a log shape and wrapped in bacon served with “anti grits” and spiced jam garnished with roasted corn. The only downfall was salty bacon or someone got heavy handed with the salt.
The fig bread was served warm with a black fig balsamic reduction and a goat cheese butter spread. The fig bread was delicious on its own. All this needed was some good rich creamy European style butter and it would’ve been perfect. It was overpriced at $9 and the condiments were simply incompatible.
If you love Merguez sausage then you’ll love the meatballs. These spheres of ground lamb mixed with harissa other Moroccan spices are complemented with a delicately smoked sofrito and harissa creme. It’s a symphony of flavors and spice in the mouth. One of my favorite dishes of the night.
Venturing out in new culinary territory is nothing new for me. I’ll eat just about anything once, so when I saw Baccala (traditionally dried salt-cured cod) on the menu it called out my name. This was made from cured white fish.
Although the flavor was good, the fish was significantly overshadowed by the mashed potatoes and celery root it was blended with and was more like mashed potatoes with a hint of baccala. The brava butter and toasted crostini complimented it nicely although it was missing the fish.
Last but not least we decided to order the small portion paella del mar. This seafood paella was a departure from the traditional saffron infused dish. If there was saffron in it it was overshadowed by cumin and tomato base.
I’m not used to seafood paella having this sort of flavor. I usually expect a more delicate seafood flavor so the seafood stands out and the rice doesn’t overshadow it. Don’t get me wrong the rice was very flavorful and I liked it. It came with one scallop, 2 shrimp, 2 clams and little crumbs of salmon. I guess the clams were a bonus since they were not listed as ingredients on the menu. If you’re gonna put salmon in the dish make it the same size as the rest of the items, not just a few scattered crumbs. I’d probably pass on the paella, there are better things to eat on the menu.