Firefly—Reunited with an Old Flame. A Midsummer Night's Meal in Studio City. Firefly Restaurant, Studio City.
Firefly's library lounge. It begins here.
Some years ago, when I was working 90 hour weeks in the television industry—sitcoms in particular—I frequented a local hot spot called Firefly. It was a local hot spot because only locals seemed to know where it was. The restaurant was and is obscured by ivy and has no sign (other than the "Firefly" sign on the valet podium).
Boozy & summery.
For me, Firefly was an oasis, an escape from my overwhelming week of collating scripts and running errands for producers. No matter how frustrated I got with my "glamorous" Hollywood job, I always knew a cocktail was in my future at the patio bar.
Bloody outstanding lobster!
Admittedly, this review is a couple months late. It's autumn now (but it still feels like an endless summer in L.A.) and the dishes I had this night may be seasonal, i.e. the Compressed Watermelon or Strawberry Raviolo. However, the real point of my writing is the cooking of Firefly's chef Paul Shoemaker, as well as the irresistible desserts of pastry chef Raymond Morales.
Comfortably settled in the library lounge surrounded by leather-bound books, guests were offered canapés like the Lobster Bloody Mary with American Caviar. It tasted of oceanic perfection, the luscious, buttery lobster melding with the salty, bursting caviar. I was ready for more.
A very short short rib.
Tender as can be and boneless, the Short Rib, Smoked Potato & Red Onion Compote, was a single bite of beefy bliss on a spoon. Smoked potato shavings and sweet onion sauce boosted the flavor of the savory short rib as they should.
Taste of summer compressed into a tiny cube.
Refreshing the palate was the Compressed Watermelon, Carbonated Sugar & Thai Basil. Herby, sweet, and wet, this teensy taste was enough to reset my mouth for the real meal.
Hallelujah! It's hamachi!
Hamachi is one of my favorite fish, especially in the form of sashimi. Chef Shoemaker keeps it simple and lets the super fresh fish shine with only some heirloom tomatoes, ponzu, and smoked sesame. Firefly's sommelier Diane Deluca paired this with a 2013 Tselepos Moschofilero from Mantinia, Greece. The hamachi was buttery fresh perfection.
If I had to choose one dish for which I absolutely fell head over heels, it would have to be the scallop. The Block Island Diver Scallops, Brentwood Corn, Grandma Green Figs, Chanterelles & Bacon was ideally seared releasing gorgeous flavors which were both clean and umami-kissed. The sweet and savory sauce complemented the pillowy scallop without a fight. The entire plate was a joy for the eyes and mouth. Both vibrant in color and tastes, it was gone much too quickly.
Bone marrow plus ravioli. YES!
I'm an unapologetic bone marrow whore. I'll suck any bone to get to the good stuff. Um, sorry, let me rephrase that. I love bone marrow. Normally, I'd have to dig out this beautiful goopy beef butter myself. At Firefly, it's neatly sealed in ravioli pasta and served hot. This bite of raviolo oozed with buttery marrow and accented with truffle foam, making it light and beefy at once.
This cod piece, eh, piece of cod from Chatham stacked with smoked eggplant, spreadable Italian sausage, and piperade was a meal in itself. The mix of flavors never competed and worked well as one. Everything was quite meaty including the smoked eggplant. Although the cod itself was delicate and flaky, the rest of this plate was a hearty affair.
Beauty and the beef.
The Beef Tenderloin was a thing of beauty, just browned on the exterior and vibrant red inside. A joy to eat along with the potato pave, haricot verts. The classic bordelaise sauce brought it all together. Somm Deluca poured a 2008 Bodegas Casa Primicia Tempranillo to complement.
A modern dessert.
Pastry chef Raymond Morales' time to shine came at the end of the meal with two outstanding desserts. The first was the Strawberry Raviolo on a spoon. Bright, sweet, and slightly tart, the strawberry was happiness in dessert form. The shortbread espuma completed the modern version of a classic.
Dessert to die for.
Smoke Salt Carmelo, Baileys Ice Cream & Whiskey Foam came together to create a super dessert, as if they were The Avengers. Each brought its best aspect to the plate and made it impossible not to devour. There was caramel, coffee, sweet, crunchy, creamy, chewy, cold, warm; it was all there and it was decadent. This is what other desserts look to when they aspire to be amazing.
To sweeten the already sweet deal, a Baileys Espresso Martini came with dessert.
If I had only known reuniting with an old flame would be so incredibly delicious, I would've revisited Firefly a long time ago. Looking forward to the next rendezvous.
11720 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA