On Saturday, we were in the throes of preparing for our annual pre-Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving dinner, something I do every year on the Sunday before Thansgiving so that I can celebrate Thansgiving with all of my friends before they go home for the actual holiday. Having started preparing for the big meal two days prior, I was in no mood to cook anything that wasn't going on the pre-Thanksgiving table, so we took the opportunity to check out Cube on La Brea, a small cafe, cheese bar, and market I pass every day on my way to work.
We had heard great things about Cube, which took over the space formerly occupied by the Divine Pasta Company (both owned by Alexander Palermo), and remnants of the old business can be found in the house-made pasta offered for sale on shelves in the corners of the cafe. The center of the eatery, which is decked out in fall-appropriate harvest colors and decor, houses a long bar, behind which an industrious chef prepares cheeses and charcuterie.
Our friendly, very laid-back server started our meal out on a very good note with a basket of fresh-out-of-the-oven bread, which was baked to flaky perfection.
While we wanted to order every single thing on the menu, our first dish was an attempt at ordering at least one thing that wouldn't have us sleeping off a food coma with an afternoon nap: the shaved brussels sprouts (enunciated by two exclamation points on the menu) tossed together in a wonderful seasonal mixture of ingredients for a light, unique and tasty result. Joining the shaved sprouts were satsuma, pomegranate, toasted hazelnuts, shaved pecorino, and a hazelnut vinaigrette (below).
We also shared an order of the maple braised bacon. For every light, healthy and restrained bite of the brussels sprouts we had, there was a heavy, rich and savory bite of the bacon (below) eager to balance it out. The lush, dreamy maple syrup sauce was so perfect over the thick slab of bacon, creamy polenta and melt-in-your-mouth cipollini onions we were soon bathing everything else on the table in it. And the bacon was cut so tender, gorgeously marbled, and glorious, I'm surprised the menu describes it as bacon and not pork belly.
For my entree, the butternut squash & duck sausage lasagna (below) called out to me and would not be ignored. The dish was about as light as you can imagine any lasagna being, with delicate layers of paper-thin pasta sheets enfolding savory nuggets of sausage and bits of slightly sweet squash. I was massively impressed with this beautiful and elegant dish.
Just like with our appetizers, we couldn't let ourselves get away with two light dishes and the house's truffle burger (below) seemed like just the perfect plate to restore order to our meal. The burger - served medium rare on house brioche with charred shallot and a slice of Gruyere, as well as a meaty slice of heirloom tomato and a handful of arugula - lived up to most expectations, but sentiment at the table settled on the side of being slightly overpriced at $18.
Modest portion-size and lack of any discernible truffle flavor kept respective enthusiasms in check, and I sort of felt like the bun was too dense for my tastes, though Mark didn't agree. However, the meat itself had a nice texture and was very flavorful and juicy. The accompanying crispy potatoes - essentially super thin-cut french fries - were a pleasant surprise, especially when dipped into a smoky side of chipotle ketchup. Price tag aside, Cube's truffle burger is a pretty worthy entry to the growing field of notable gourmet burgers in Los Angeles.
Somewhere and somehow we found room for dessert (this was, after all, only supposed to be a light lunch). The warm Hachiya persimmons bread pudding (below) sounded like a nice change of pace. We were both happy to savor the warm bread pudding, which had an almost burnt (in the good kind of way) flavor, and was topped with house-made peanut brittle and soaked in orange blossom caramel and accompanied by a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
This cozy little cafe serves exceptional food, so carefully executed and season-appropriate. Mark and I actually discussed how it's the perfect place to bring visiting parents or guests. Odds are that we will be returning to Cube for dinner at some point in the near future to try all the dishes we passed up the first time.