Foie gras is having its Zeitgeist moment in the month leading up to its demise at culinary sanctums across the state. As of July 1, a California ban will make it illegal to produce or sell the fatty duck liver. Although a coalition of chefs and assorted foodies have already begun advocating to overturn the measure, there is no doubt that it will go into effect, and high-end restaurants that have long served it are preparing to soon remove the delicacy from their menus. But before they do, some spots have gone out of their way to salute foie gras in its waning days by creating tasting menus to show off the full range of its uses.
Giselle Wellman, the chef at this understated shrine to caviar on Robertson Blvd., has constructed an ambitious $100-per-person five-courser. It finds the liver poached alongside pickled beets in a summer berry gazpacho; stuffed inside ravioli as part of an asparagus salad sprinkled in black truffles; seared as a hunk with cherries and pistachios; served alongside several slices of prime flat iron steak as a kind of meat butter; and, finally, infused into ice cream and set between a warm slice of brioche striated in raspberry jam, sea salt and honey.
This elegantly refined, super-under-the-radar dining den just up the road from the Sony lot specializes in epic Japanese kaiseki-style sequences. Right now — the dishes are subject to change — namesake chef/owner Niki Nakayama is offering a $180 seven-course menu beginning with a composition involving flan and ending with foie gras sushi (yes, really). In between, steamed abalone arrives with poached foie gras and kanpachi sashimi is sprinkled with foie powder, among other preparations.
Also interpreting the liver through a Japanese lens is chef Stan Ota at this sleek downtown L.A. sushi spot suspended high above the Financial District. Foie gras has been a frequent fixture on his robata menu, and here it’s paired with tuna, included in a Vichyssoise soup, delivered as truffles with fresh berries and more. Whereas Petrossian and N/Naka are sequential experiences, these dishes are a la carte, and they will be substituted for other creations on a weekly basis through the end of the month.