Okay, I lied. So I didn't have dinner with Gordon Ramsay. But it was very close, like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. Here's what happened.
A few days ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Hemmat, owner of Lido di Manhattan Ristorante & Bar for my LA Weekly article. Why were we talking? Hemmat's six-year-old Lido is being featured – and ritualistically torn apart – on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares tonight (FOX, 9pm). As part of my "research," I made my way down to see Lisa and check out some of Lido's latest menu items, inspired by Gordon Ramsay. It was my second trip to Lido in about a year and I've got to say the new menu items, not to mention a month-long stint with Hell's Kitchen Chef Scott Leibfried, have really paid off.
Lido's "Neighborhood Wine Bar" Interior
Ramsay & Hemmat Reworked Lido's Menu
Gordon taught a primarily front-of-house Hemmat her first cooking lesson (I'm jealous!), during which they created specials like the Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad and Crab Linguini. Some other Kitchen Nightmares-related menu items are the The Homemade Spinach Fettuccine (vegetarian), Baked Mushroom Penne, 8 oz Angus Burger, Grilled Rosemary Chicken, Shrimp & Scallops over Homemade Angel Hair. For appetizers, Gordon added the White bean Hummus, Asparagus & Prociutto, Creamy Mushroom Dip, Heirloom Caprese, a new version of the Calamari Fritti, Grilled baby Artichokes, Seared Scallops and Artisan Cheese Plate.
Calamari Fritti w/ Green Goddess Dressing
Bryan loved the Calamari Fritti with Green Goddess dressing. It was light and crispy, not letting the oil weigh it down. The dressing, Ramsay's substitute for typical marinara, provided an unexpected, yet welcome bite from the chives and lemon juice.
Grilled Vegetable & Goat Cheese Flatbread
Lisa recommended the new flatbread, so we chose one with grilled vegetables. It had a great tanginess from the goat cheese, beautiful color and texture from the grilled asparagus, zucchini and tomato, and a flavorful crust. I would've liked a crunchier crust that held its structural integrity, but otherwise the flavors were right on.
Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad
Green beans | Tomatoes | Capers | Potatoes | Anchovies
The Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad was truly one of the best I've had, which as a Nicoise fanatic is not easy to say. The kicker? The crunchy, salty heat of new potatoes straight out of the oven. The contrast of the potatoes against the crisp, thinly-sliced romaine and velvety seared tuna was perfect for me. I also wish I had the ingredient list for the Nicoise dressing, because it was a great balance of salty anchovies and hint of citrus. Throw in the pop of the capers and creamy egg yolks and you've got yourself one heck of a great salad.
Lemon Semi-Freddo with Pine Nuts
The Lemon Semi-Freddo was the perfect ending to our meal. A two-day process to make, the semi-freddo is a mixture of cream, eggs, sugar and lemon juice that is heated, then frozen overnight and finally served. The pine nuts and strawberries lent an earthy oiliness and sweetness, respectively. We enjoyed it a lot.
So if you're in the South Bay area, stop by Lido di Manhattan. But make sure to make a reservation – Lido's Kitchen Nightmares episode runs tonight – and they're sure to be busy!