By Michael Walsh
La Ventura is Jeffrey Saad's love letter to the cuisines of Mexico. As he described it La Ventura isn't based off a particular area of Mexican cuisine but is rather a paintbrush that borrows elements from everything he experienced on his trips there. It shows in the dishes of La Ventura. Theres elements of mole in his sauces, green rice thats different from the light red rice we are accustomed to in Southern California, and theres flour tortillas where you wouldn't find in most of Mexico.
On to the food. La Ventura breaks down some of the more complicated elements of Mexican cuisine for the average Southern California consumer. Most people wouldn't be able to tell you what a mole is in LA but you are going to find it in La Venturas sauces in several dishes. I would suggest getting the meatball appetizer. They are really good juicy meatballs and they work great to try the three house salsas you will be given. The salsas are pretty great here. While the pineapple habanero/ salsa verde are my favorites from the trio you get when you sit down my favorite is the Pico de Gallo offered with some dishes (a chunky tomato based salsa). Oh and they do a beautiful job on their scallop skewer. Its served with a shrimp skewer but the moist grilled scallop served with smoked creama (think Mexican sour cream) is fantastic.
The main dishes are interesting. La Ventura offers plates, and shared plates. The shared plates range from a whole fried fish to a sharable steak. I went for the smaller plates. The carnitas are excellent. Crispy, chewy and served with a red sauce. The major flaw was that cold sauce but I explained that already. The Al Pastor tacos were great. Pastor has a wide range and Jeffrey likes his sweeter than me but the addition of some salsa takes care of that. The pineapple served with the tacos is a nice touch. I also sampled their enchiladas and they were stuffed with meat. Like I mentioned before they have a mole inspired sauce. Do not expect cheesy enchiladas here.
Its a brand new place so you have to expect some kinks. Especially with the small kitchen La Ventura is working with. There were a few but Jeffrey took all of them head on. The carnitas cooled rapidly because they had been putting a cold sauce on top of hot meat...after I tried it they decided on a solution so hopefully thats solved. Their churros were too soft for the thick dipping sauces. I told Jeffey that using a pastry bag and creating more edges for the batter to fry could solve that problem. Hopefully their opening week will go off without a hitch.
La Ventura 11929 Ventura Blvd Studio City, CA 91604
|Jeffrey Saad in his kitchen at La Ventura|
|Chocolate cookie at La Ventura|
|Churros with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces at La Ventura|
|Housemade flour tortilla La Ventura|
|Pastor tacos at La Ventura Studio City|
|Carnitas with sauce La Ventura|
|Grilled seafood skewers La Ventura|
|Outside La Ventura|
|Salsas pineapple habanero, red, salsa verde.|