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What the foie gras? Man meets jelly doughnut at Umamicatessen

March 12, 2012 | 12:12 pm

Doughnut

You may have heard of Umamicatessen. It's a new restaurant on the edge of the Jewelry District in downtown Los Angeles that has, in addition to its regular Umami Burger menu, a roster of deli sandwiches curated by Micah Wexler, chef of the swank Middle Eastern restaurant Mezze, and a pork-intensive concession called Pigg, a restaurant within a restaurant, from Chris Cosentino, who is famous in San Francisco for his offal menu at Incanto and his cured meats at Boccalone.

There are 17 different kinds of ham at Pigg, and if you're in the mood, you can get your fries drenched in an aioli flavored with pureed pigs' brains, ''brainaise.'' Umamicatessen has an extensive cocktail bar: That brainaise probably sounds like a good idea when you're on the other end of three or four Sazeracs.

We are at Umamicatessen this morning for its doughnut concession, which bears the un-Googleable name & a, which also probably sounded good after three or four Sazeracs. & a fries its doughnuts to order, which is unquestionably a good thing. You would really like the tres leches doughnut, soaked in its various dairy tinctures and served in a puddle of cajeta, Mexican caramel. The hot beignets, which come with a sort of pot de crème flavored with dark coffee and burnt citrus peel in the style of a New Orleans café brulôt, is pretty spectacular. But the object before us is a foie gras doughnut; round, hot and crisp, dusted with ground peanuts. One end leaks jam –- "forest berry'' from the cult jelly-man Robert Lambert in the Bay Area, which tastes like what the Wine Spectator means when it notes the jammy notes in a $150 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon –- and the other a loose, mild foie gras mousse.

A cynical man might insist that the foie gras was put into the doughnut mostly to justify the cost of the jam: Nobody is going to pay $8 for a jelly doughnut, no matter how life-changing. But there is that sweet spot in the middle of the doughnut where foie meets jam, the peanut dust comes into play, and you are essentially dealing with the most luxurious peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world. It is an extraordinarily good bite. Then you're left with the rest of what is merely an extremely good doughnut, but somehow that's OK too.

846 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 413-8626. 

-- Jonathan Gold

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Photo: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times

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