Rodell Wrassles Down Black Hogg; Gold Tackles Tex-Mex at Bar Ama

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"As an entire plate of food, it is pornographic," writes Rodell of the brioche mushroom box. Photo: KevinEats

We've always considered Black Hogg kind of like a B-grade version of the original Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, but that still means it's performing twice as well as we ever did in geometry or chemistry. Today, fair-and-balanced Besha considers the critically-lauded Echo Park restaurant, offering some much-needed criticism that's rarely seen in these parts. After succinctly summing up the rise of "dude food," Rodell rips the curtain away from chef-owner Eric Park's illustrious past, exposing his work-experience as "both brief, part-time, noncredited internships" at famous restaurants, and telling us that his inexperience "does explain quite a bit." Offering initial praise for the Brussell sprouts and báhn mì, she finds the fattier eccentricities are "where Black Hogg really starts to go off the rails, where the ingredients and trends of the day are taken to extremes....Much goes outrageously overboard here." A summing up of badly conceived and imperfectly executed dishes follows, with Rodell positing that it "feels as though Park perhaps took his training wheels off a little too early." One star for the spot in one of the critic's best pieces to date. [LAW]

In theory, Bar Ama should be one of Jonathan Gold's dream restaurants come true, with its trumped-up take on Tex-Mex based on sterling product from a favorite chef capable of cooking just about anything. The critic arrives to the restaurant to find one of the few Mexican dishes that's ever turned him off, a bowl of Texan queso that he has to admit is "not bad at all." Though chef-owner Josef Centeno's "restaurants have always specialized in the inter-ethnic twist," Gold finds a lot of straight-forward Tex-Mex here, where the fideo may not resemble your abuelita's, but "a green enchilada is a green enchilada" and the chicharrones are still chicharrones, only made from heritage pork belly. As for the puffy tacos, bitch if you like about the double-digit price, but "Centeno's...may be even better than the originals, spicy and oily, crisp and chewy, gut-stretching yet somehow ethereal...You could not imagine a better chaser to a stiff shot of mezcal." [LAT]

Brad A. Johnson checks in on Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's only to find the fries have changed, knocking from his list of the golden ideal. Still, Seakyeong Kim charms the critic with dishes like the "still smoldering" veal marrow bones, escargot shumai, and black tuffle flatbread that "smells like a forest after the rain." Though the chef's tasting menu is a flop and desserts are "lackluster," Johnson deems the restaurant "beautiful and extremely comfortable, a grown-up oasis amid the hustle and bustle of South Coast Plaza." [OCR]