‘Water is the most important beverage you can drink,” said Martin Riese, the General Manager of Ray’s & Stark Bar. We all know that, however this certified water sommelier from Germany is an expert on water and the TDS (Total Dissolved Solid) in water. “The higher the TDS, the more minerals and health benefits. “There are so many wine, beer and spirit options in restaurants, why only one or two water options?” Riese said.
At Ray’s & Star Bar they offer an extensive water menu. There are bottles available to enjoy from Canada, Denmark, Fiji Islands, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
One of the bottles in the U.S., is Beverly Hills 90H20, a water Riese helped create. He brought two distinctive blue 90H20 bottles to our table to sample. The TDS is higher than other American waters and it offers a pure, no chlorine smell.
Spain is the winner of bottled water offering health benefits with their Vichy Catalan offering a staggering 3,052 mg per liter of TDS. That’s almost a full dose of several key minerals your body needs including calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, fluoride and silica.
Riese’s water menu is easy to read with a photo of each bottle and a rating scale for sweet to salty and smooth to complex. He also shows the sodium, magnesium and calcium content.
Who knew water could be so fascinating? Martin Riese sure did. He is on a mission to educate the public about water.
Ray’s and Stark newer Executive Chef Viet Pham offers innovative plates that can be paired with designer water, wine, beer or cocktails.
Pham’s culinary approach combines classic French technique with bold flavors. His dishes are museum quality in their artful presentation, especially his hanger steak with a swirl of green garlic puree and brush of beef jus decorating the white plate with a wood grilled steak, roasted summer squash and reed thin asparagus.
My favorite dish is his black-as-midnight squid ink pasta made with a special Italian pasta maker called a chitarra, giving the fresh noodles a special texture. It’s cooked in a lemongrass and ginger water before decorated with whole bake blistered Sungold tomatoes, bits of crab, garlic, Calabrian chili, Red Boat fish sauce and Thai basil. This dish elevates your senses to a new level with a hint of sweetness, an essence of citrus and the saltiness of the sea.
His fluke (a flatfish or flounder) dish offered the quintessential summer flavors. Fluke is a mild fish cures with kombu, a Japanese kelp before slicing it thinly on a plate. The talented chef garnishes the white fish with green strawberries, kumquat, prickly pear and green almonds.
Be sure to order the rhubarb crumble with salted caramel ice cream or the banana pudding bread with caramelized bananas and a scoop of cognac vanilla ice cream. Both are terrific.
Park La Brea residents can get 10% off their main course by showing their Ray’s & Stark card. After the 10th visit, residents will get $30 taken off the bill.
Brunch is Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch is weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. The Bar is open until 11 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Wednesday.
Park for free in the LACMA garage after 7 p.m. Early birds who brunch before 11 a.m. receive complimentary parking when each person spends $20 or more during brunch. Parking is located on Sixth St. at LACMA Way, one block north of Wilshire Blvd and one block east of Fairfax Ave. $$ 5905 Wilshire Blvd. (323)857-6180.
This article was published in the June 2015 Beverly Press Summer Dining Guide.