From the palette to the palate, food meets art at Ray’s & Stark Bar at LACMA

Food is art. And at Ray’s and Stark Bar, the restaurant at LACMA, art is food. Inspired by the museum where Ray’s is located, Chef Fernando Darin has created an internationally inspired menu using local seasonal ingredients. But it is the plating that takes it from food to art.

Ray's and Stark Bar at LACMA

Chef Fernando Darin was born to an Italian family in a region of Brazil with Portuguese and African influences. He recently arrived to Ray’s and Stark Bar after working for Eric Greenspan, Michael Voltaggio and most recently for Patina at the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Previous to cooking, he was a musician and artist for fourteen years. It is his global upbringing and artistic background that influence his food and drive his creativity.

We started with the tuna tartare with avocado, oroblanco citrus fruit and taro chips and I was immediately transported to the realm of food as art. The presentation was like a beautiful art piece of art, balancing of color and dimension. The flavors are fresh and the oroblanca citrus brightens up the dish.

Tuna Tartare, avocado, oroblanco citrus fruit, taro chips

From the tuna tartare to the prawns with whipped polenta, roasted shallot and gremolata, the dishes are garnished with edible arugula and cilantro flowers that come from the garden located behind the restaurant.

Prawns, whipped polenta, roasted shalot, gremolata

The flavors are very clean and flavorful. I really enjoyed the mango chutney with the fresh burrata. I have never combined those two flavors but the sweet and tart of the mango complements the creaminess of the burrata and the toasted bread adds texture.

Burrata, Mango Chutney, Toast

In the black kale salad with grapefruit, ricotta salata and golden raisins, there is a marriage of salty (cheese), sweet (raisins) and tart (grapefruit). The dressing is a white balsamic vinaigrette that I would like the recipe!

Black Kale, grapefruit, ricotta salata, golden raisins

Chef Darin’s Italian influence is reflected in the wood fired pizzas and homemade pastas. The wood fried bianca pizza has melted sottocenere al tartufo, a type of mild cheese. The scoops of creamy robiolina cheese and the saba (reduced grape must) that adds a honeyed sweetness to the pizza are what kept me coming back for more bites.

Wood Fired Bianca Pizza, sottocenere al tartufo, robiolina, saba

Spaghetti Alla Chitarra and Sicilian pesto, pecorino Romano

Spaghetti Alla Chitarra, Sicilian pesto, pecorino Romano

For dessert, the Orange Financier Cake is moist but my favorite part was the caramelized pineapple and frozen yogurt. The orange flowers added the punch of color to finish of the artistic piece.

Orange Financier Cake, caramelized pineapple, frozen yogurt

To wash all the food down, we enjoyed a few white wines from the list. The core wine list is somewhat traditional with name-brand wines. What I was drawn to was the “Unique Whites” section. Sommelier Stefan Juling has put together a list of interesting white wines that encourage guests to try new grapes or wines from unfamiliar regions.

I enjoyed a glass of the Patina 2013 Chardonnay. This is the house label but the wine is made by Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat in Santa Barbara. I also enjoyed a glass of Emanuel Tres 2013 Blanco, another Santa Barbara white wine made with grenache blanc and viognier.

Patina 2013 Chardonnay Emanuel Tres 2013 Blanco

Another unique thing about Ray’s & Stark Bar is the water menu. Yes, they have a 20-item water menu with waters from ten countries including France, Spain, Canada and Germany. Don’t know the difference between waters?  Let water sommelier Matin Riese take you through a water tasting for $12.

Iskilde Water

Ray’s and Stark Bar is where, from the palette to the palate, food meets art.

Ray’s & Stark Bar
905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036