The Langham Hotel is a century old enchanting haven tucked away in the foothills of Pasadena. It’s beautiful and luxurious but in need of an infusion of youth. Michael Voltaggio is a thirty year old chef focused on modern technique, flavor and presentation. He is that youthful infusion.
Let’s start with the grounds- superbly manicured, definitely enchanting, like being hundreds of miles away from LA. The decor is dated, but the restaurant will be remodeled at the end of the year. Before even talking about the food I just want to say, the framed ships on the walls must stay. No question.
Now the food. The tasting menu definitely employed modern techniques and presentation. Every single dish was cooked to perfection- from the suckling pig and pigeon to the lamb and turbot. Most unique of all was the octopus, which was cooked in a way that softened it through and through. It was closer in consistency to a thick German sausage then octopus.
Now, in full detail with pictures stolen from My Last Bite:
After an amuse bouche of blue fin tuna and hibiscus air we were served pacific yellowtail, sashimi style; soy-watermelon, sea sponge, smoked egg yolk with a 2008 Crios de Susana Balbo, Torrontes, Cafayate. Overall the dish reminded me of cream cheese and lox, which is the highest possible rating from this Jew.
Next was the aforementioned Octopus, buttered popcorn, piquilla confetti, cilantro with a 2005 Peter Howland Maxwell Vineyard, Chardonnay, Hunter Valley. Unique consistency, flavor and a popcorn hinted wine to accompany the dish made this one of the most special of the night. The confetti strip looked like old school dot matrix printer paper but tasted much better.
Pastrami pigeon, rye-infused jus, brussels-kraut, puffed gruyere cheese with a Unibroue 17, Strong Dark Ale (that’s beer). This play on a reuben only fell short because of the cumbersome stack of ingredients. The flavors were all there, but were difficult to combine on the fork.
Turbot, artichoke, tomato granola, lime & vanilla with a 2007 Salwey Henkenberg GG, Pinot Gris Qmp. This was my favorite dish. The fish was sublimely cooked with a delicate texture that balanced perfectly with the crunchy granola.
Suckling pig, pistachio beans, onions, OJ, coriander with a 2000 August Kesseler “S”, Pinot Noir, Assmannshausen. I. Love. Suckling. Pig.
Lamb confit, vadouvan (curry), pickled tongue, eggplant-raisin, fresh hummus with a 2006 Villa Creek Avenger, Syrah/Mourvedre/Grenache, Paso Robles. A lot of strong flavors, combining to produce a very good dish. The pickled tongue was very tender.
The palate cleanser came in the form of a delectable jasmine rice sorbet. It was followed by a play on Coffee Cake- baked honey, espresso mousse, lemon curd with a 2004 Paringa, Individual Vineyard, Sparkling Shiraz.
Chef Michael Voltaggio is currently on Top Chef: Las Vegas. Even if he doesn’t win he’s gonna have a strong career as a chef.
The Langham Hotel is currently planning renovations scheduled to start on Jan 1st. If they can update the look without losing the elegance and enchantment I think the hotel can be a big draw for foodies and non-foodies alike.