Saturday, February 17, 2007

CIUDAD has cool Latin cuisine (downtown LA)

Last night I returned to one of may favorite downtown LA dining spots after a two-year hiatus. CIUDAD is a wonderful Latin fusion spot (445 S. Figueroa) which oozes flavor as well as class and style. The white decor is accented with wall and ceiling paintings reminiscent of Miro or Calder with opaque square light fixtures of fabric. Only the wooden chairs need to go!

They offer an all-tapas menu on Sunday and a Tuesday paella night if you are around then. The wonderful flatbread is ancho chili dusted and comes with olive tapenade and humus to start...DON'T FILL UP, but you can't resist!

I started with the superb and huge PERUVIAN CEVICHE of mahi-mahi with lime, ginger, ahi amarillo chili and roasted pepper salsa with long curled fried plantains all supporting this with a slice of avocado. A glass of VIONTA ALABARINO (Riax Baixas 2004) was crisp with floral notes and works well with the spice, although a Riesling would be nice (and red zins are needed for the meat dishes!).

The GRILLED ARCTIC CHAR with TAMARIND GLAZE sounds lighter than the big meat dishes, but is also a huge portion served over CUMIN Scented CABBAGE with a MASHED YUCA and those yellow-orange Ahi Amarillo chiles on top to add spice. The fish is topped with an Onion Habanero Orange Salsa that was also great, although I did not care for the several anise seeds on top.

While the nice Latin music is playing, one should probably stick with Flan or Tres Leches, but I needed a lighter dessert and chose the NECTARINE BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE with Crema Ice Cream. When I told my excellent server that the nectarines were not ripe she immediately took the charge off the bill.

So--next time at CIUDAD I go for more meat and always enjoy the spice! They also have a free shuttle to the theaters several blocks away!