Some of you may know my obsession with ham and one ham in particular -- the mother of all hams that I've oversold to the point of raising suspicion whether I was on The Bazaar's payroll. Jamon Iberico de bellota of black-footed pig fame. I had a sublime ham experience at The Bazaar and wondered if this transformational experience would be replicated at Cube.
The food was very good -- especially the braised octopus, scallop crudo with peaches and blood oranges and the super crunchy and creamy mac-n-cheese. The one disappointment was the ham that wasn't quite as good as that place.
But the atmosphere was great, service was generally good (except when the bill arrived unsolicited -- ok, they were closing) and I would definitely return. Let's start with the octopus. It was tender and rich in flavor, sitting atop a bed of charred radicchio and cipollini onions. I usuallly find radicchio too bitter but charred, it tasted nice and smoky.
The scallop crudo was very refreshing. The combination of thinly-sliced scallops and super sweet and juicy peaches drizzled with blood orange juice and some peppery greens was divine. I mean, look at that beauty! It tasted as good as it looked on the plate.
It's cool that the restaurant (which also sells specialty mostly Italian foods on the expensive side) changes its menu weekly to offer what's in season. There were some things that seemed to get more raves than others by folks, like the burrata, which was decadent and creamy. It's definitely not for the faint of heart (or the lactose intolerant). The one complaint about the burrata was that the price was a bit over the top at $16 per order. However, I really liked the burrata and nibbled on it throughout the entire meal with a wonderful Merlot.
Speaking of cheese, I also tried tetilla cheese that's a semi-soft cheese from Spain. It was good but a bit on the mild side for me. They gave us a sharp cheddar cheese on the house, which was, well, sharp. The ham and cheese tray came with cashews and dried cranberries but while they looked pretty on the tray and I like cashews and dried cranberries, I didn't want to waste my stomach space with these things. Mere distractions that didn't add too much to the ham and cheese experience.
Now on to the mac-n-cheese, which was one of the favorite things I had. It was piping hot when I tried to poke it with my fork. Check. After blowing on it, the first bite was crunchy, creamy and deliciously cheesy all at once. Just the right amount of breadcrumbs that were toasted just right to reveal a scorching hot cheese-fest of goodness underneath.
The bacon (fried guanciale to be exact) daintily placed on top predictably gave it an extra layer of crunch and punch of saltiness, but it almost didn't need it. Did I just say bacon wasn't necessary? Well, this mac-n-cheese was that self-sufficient.
The classic margherita pizza was good but a bit on the cheesy side for me. I couldn't help but reminisce about the really thin-crusted pizzas I had in hole-in-the-wall joints in Bologna that had minimal cheese on them and let the other ingredients shine.
We also had the tiramisu for dessert and it was moist enough and went well with the berries it came with. I'd probably try another dessert next time.
The ham and cheese selection is mind-bogglingly extensive so if you're a ham or cheese fiend, this is the place for you.
615 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036