Beau du Bois & Chef de Cuisine Ali Haji Make a dynamic duo at The Corner Door

06/18/2015

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get over to The Corner Door, (12477 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90066; 310.313.5810) but on the other hand, I am happy I did. Chef de Cuisine Ali Haji (with Executive Chef Brendan Collins) have taken over the kitchen and transformed this spot into an elevated bar with changing flavors of the season. Plus, OG Bar Manager and cocktail guru, Beau du Bois has set high standards, creating intriguing seasonal cocktail menus that have consistently rivaled the best in the city (remember, they are seasonal, so get there fast). Now du Bois raises the bar (and his own high standards) again with his Spring Drinks Menu that will be available for just a limited amount of time!

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Recognized as one of Zagat Los Angeles’ 30 Under 30 in 2011 and ranked as one of America’s 25 Best Bartenders by the Daily Meal in 2012 (du Bois was #12), du Bois has the talent, creativity and the knowledge without the typical Los Angeles (sorry) arrogance. You will always find this modest and genuine guy behind the bar creating beautiful, unique cocktails alongside his team on their own “little island of cocktail creativity,” where he can watch guests reaction to them.

Currently, you can sip on cocktails that are divided into three sections: six Shaken, six Stirred and two Classics. One of the new cocktails on du Bois’ list in the Shaken section of the menu, is the Three Way (main photo). Probably my favorite, although it’s difficult to choose, this cocktail will “git ya,” in a good way. It’s a combo of tamarind, citrus, jalapeño-infused tequila, house-made raspberry and tamarind cordial, lime and egg white. Needless to say, it’s spicy! It’s velvety in texture and smooth in taste, but once you swallow, as I said…it will “git ya.” Are you up for the challenge?

If not, maybe the Topless Mermaid is more your style. It’s the first vodka cocktail du Bois has put on the menu in a long time and it makes me want to be some place tropical. It’s a combo of vodka, pineapple, lime, banana-infused rose and blue curacao that offers up a refreshing taste with a hint of sweet and it’s absolutely beautiful.
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A clever gin concoction created as a special for the Emmy Awards and left on the menu due to its popularity, is the Jesse Pink Gin, named in honor of Aaron Paul who was nominated for his star-making turn as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad. And sorry, never watched the show, but if it’s anything like this cocktail…I’m on board. It’s gin and Angostura Bitters, with “a little whiff” of coconut liqueur, orgeat and lime to balance out the flavor and bring out the tiki essence. I have become a fan.

Rounding out the Shaken section of the menu are the Miner Incident, with apricot liqueur and lemon mixed with bourbon and habanero honey, the House French 75 with gin, Lillet Rose, lemon, sugar, peach bitters and finished with sparkling wine, as well as the smoky Mezcallin crafted with mezcal, lemon, ginger and pineapple gomme.

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Moving into the Stirred section, you will find drinks that are imaginative and complex. Although a last-minute addition crafted by du Bois, the Death Row Cocktail,  was created after someone asked what he would order if he could only have one last cocktail. “I would want a complex cocktail with a lot of layers,” du Bois answered and so the Death Row Cocktail was born. It’s a large glass with two types of rum, kaffir lime and coconut-infused Campari, sweet vermouth and Aztec chocolate bitters. It’s for the true cocktail aficionado and the drinks continually changes with different layers.

There are old favorites too, including the Taco Truck, a mezcal-based Negroni variation with pineapple and cinnamon-infused Campari, a toasty Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned and the Lumberjack Liquor Cabinet composed of bourbon, apple brandy, maple syrup and cinnamon smoke. This section also highlights Benedictine in the form of two very different cocktails: the Louisiana Regular with rye, Benedictine, grapefruit cordial, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe, as well as the Bitter Giuseppe with bourbon, blended scotch, Cynar and Benedictine.

Two old school throwbacks emerge in the Classics section: the Billionaire made with bourbon, lemon, grenadine and absinthe, as well as the Daiquiri with silver rum, sugar and lime.

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Once you have sipped on a few, order up fare from Chef de Cuisine Ali Haji. He has worked at Haruki East in providence RI, where he was the Sous Chef and was trained by Sushi Chef Sasaki san. He then first met Executive Chef Brendan Collins through Dave Danhi (ddFactor Restaurant Recruiting) eight years ago and started working with Brendan at Mesa in the OC. Ali then continued to work with Brendan at the following places: Mesa, Annisette, Palihouse, and Waterloo & City. Executive Chef Brendan Collins and Chef de Cuisine Ali Haji then took over the kitchen at The Corner Door in February 2015 and the new menu was introduced just last month.

Chef de Cuisine Ali created dishes that truly blew me away. Some dishes are not on the new menu, but trust me, whatever you go with, you will not be disappointed. We had oyster that were works of art, a deconstructed avocado toast with burrata, and tuna tartare that had a hint of sweet with oranges, which was my favorite. They we went into slightly heavier dishes but still worked with teh season, like lobster with gnocchi made from corn, and curried coconut cauliflower that was out of this world. If you’re not a veggie love, that dish will change the way you think. Everything was beautiful and bright and tasted fresh and not to heavy, which is perfect for the spring/summer. You could tell there was care and thought behind each dish. It was unlike and “bar food” I have had.

By Whitney

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