Monday, June 21, 2010

Croquer: Lasagna Lab at Cube

There's really no excuse for NOT eating out this Tuesday night. Finely curated marketplace and café Cube on La Brea is a couple of weeks deep into its summer-long Tuesday Night Lasagna Lab, where $20 buys you a farm-fresh meal of chef Erin Eastland's homemade pasta lasagna, imaginative side salad (no "mixed greens" here), and a glass of wine paired by Cube's wine director -and owner- Alex Palermo.
The other Tuesday, I nabbed a last minute reservation at the cheese bar to check it out. The small café and sidewalk patio were bustling but not overstuffed, the charming server still able to immediately present an amuse-bouche and dole out some charm. We ordered the lasagna prix fixe, and in addition a starter of the Hamachi crudo. This "Italian sashimi" is composed with house pickled kumquats and leek scapes, drizzled with fruity olive oil. The puckish kumquats add a satisfying zing to the sea spray fresh dish.
After the hamachi our server returned to regretfully inform us that (at 7:15pm) they were already out of the special lasagna prix fixe... In frank disbelief we asked if she was certain. Our orders had been in, and I knew the books were filled up all night for the special menu - seemed early in dinner service to have run out. She returned saying that they had one left, so we gratefully claimed it, and in place of the other ordered the sweet corn stuffed pasta with brown butter, bacon, red cow parmesan. 
The sweet corn pasta was delicate and fresh. Refreshingly, the bacon was not overpowering, rather the rich cheese dominated the flavor profile. A nice addition to the meal.
The special this week was a white lasagna with baby zucchini, squash blossoms, and also the delightfully pungent red cow parmesan. My disdain of 'fallback zucchini' diminished with the crisp paper-thin slices of farmer's market baby zucchini here, layered between delicate pasta sheets and bolstered with conservative amounts of cheese. The salad of spring baby greens, grilled peach, cipollini onions, thick cut bacon, and aged balsamic was fantastic, all rounded off nicely with the 2004 Ca'Rossa Roero Nebbiolo.
Definitely plan a Tuesday or two at Cube before September, but book a reservation for early in the night so you don't miss out! And if lasagna is not your steez, swing by for Dessert Bar Mondays featuring $5 sweetmeat small plates (like Tres Leches Cake with Vanilla Bean Parfait & Milk Meringue) from Executive Pastry Chef Jun Tan, mini cheese plates by Cube Gourmet Buyer Rachael Sheridan, and of course more paired wines by Palermo.

Cube Cafe & Marketplace
615 N La Brea Ave. LA; 323.939.1148
Cube at Divine Pasta Co in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Cube Cafe on Urbanspoon

P.S. On the topic of awesome homemade lasagna... The recent lasagna special at my new favorite neighborhood haunt Osteria Mamma was also delicioso!

Osteria Mamma
5730 Melrose ave. LA; 323.284.7060

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