The Winner: Upper West and Rémy Martin

The Winner: Upper West and Rémy Martin

French spirits house Rémy Martin co-stars with Upper West restaurant in Santa Monica to create a five-course tasting dinner worthy of its own golden statuette.

The Winner: Upper West and Rémy Martin
Rémy Martin Brand Ambassador Sten Lilja toasts guests with a specialty cocktail and a smile at Upper West restaurant’s “French Connection” five-course dinner paired with Rémy Martin cognacs. Photo by Gerry Furth-Sides.

The French Connection is a thrilling, critically acclaimed, five-time Academy Award-winning film starring Gene Hackman. It was also the theme of a rave-worthy, five-course fine dining event at the Upper West restaurant starring iconic French spirits house Rémy Martin.

Upper West has earned a reputation in Los Angeles not only for the nouveau American cuisine served in its sophisticated yet comfortable space on Pico Boulevard, but also for its ongoing tasting dinners where Executive Chef Nick Shipp creates a multi-course gourmet meal specially matched with a select spirit — all served prix fixe plus tax and tip.

The most recent tasting took place just days before the Oscars, when the sleek private dining room inside Santa Monica’s Upper West restaurant was the scene for an evening of cognac tasting paired to perfection with yet another one-night-only menu designed by Shipp. Even without one of the greatest car chase scenes in cinematic history, Chef Shipp and Rémy’s French Connection deserves a gold statuette.

Upper West Remy Martin party guests
Guests at the Upper West restaurant try their hand at making their own Bumble V cocktail made with Remy Martin V, honey syrup and lemon juice.
Photo by Gerry Furth-Sides.

While Shipp kept the courses coming, Rémy Martin Brand Ambassador Sten Lilja attended to his master of ceremonies duties with the charm and grace of a seasoned host. Instead of kicking the evening off with a song-and-dance number, he opted for something even better — an enchanting cocktail crafted with Rémy Martin V, a new ultra-premium clear spirit.

This eau-de-vie is made with the finest French grapes and slowly distilled in traditional copper pot stills to bring out the most elegant aromas and taste. It was exceptionally smooth in the “Bumble V,” a simple, refreshing yet refined cocktail that beautifully expressed the virtue of a “less is more” approach. After sipping that delightful drink, I was ready to consider Rémy Martin V a contender for an Independent Spirit Award. Try the recipe and see for yourself:

Bumble V

¾ oz. fresh lemon juice

¾ oz. honey syrup (1:1 honey and warm water)

2 oz. Rémy Martin V

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in citrus, honey syrup and Rémy V. Shake vigorously for a few seconds. Strain into a martini glass and enjoy.

Created by Lindsay Nader for Elysium Craft Cocktail Services.

The award for Best Supporting Vegetable goes to Shipp’s Golden Beets, a colorful starter that paired nicely with the Bumble V — bright flavors of Satsuma-infused golden beets dressed with a tomato-ginger vinaigrette and topped with “Rémyfied” goat cheese and cilantro.

The next course featured a snifter of Rémy Martin V.S.O.P alongside the chef’s interpretation of the classic Salade Niçoise. The vibrant gold liquid with fruity notes of ripe apricots and hints of licorice was lovely, as was the deconstructed salad of tuna loin, green bean puree and Kalamata pistou. Although individually intriguing, much like The French Connection’s Popeye Doyle and Alain Charnier, the twosome made for an odd contrast.

Chocolate Mousse at Upper West
Upper West restaurant’s Executive Chef Nick Shipp puts an artistic touch on the entrée.
Photo by Gerry Furth-Sides.

Shipp, a former Wolfgang Puck protégé, has cooked alongside Puck for one of Hollywood’s biggest after-parties — the Governor’s Ball — and he knows how to impress an audience. The young chef has a reputation for putting an inventive spin on comfort food, and this was highly evident in the exquisite braised beef cheek served with buttery, “Robuchon style” potato puree. The dish’s bittersweet sauce à l’orange aigre-douce was balanced by the pitch-perfect heat of Fresno chili.

And what should one drink with such culinary artistry? Something just as spectacular: Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal, a smooth, rich and incredibly mellow cognac made from 65 percent Grand Champagne and 35 percent Petite Champagne. It had a gorgeous color, like shimmering copper. The aroma was heavenly — chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, hints of oak, candied oranges and lily.

I could hardly wait to taste what Shipp and Rémy would dish up for an encore. The envelope, please.

May I present for your consideration an oh-so-decadent extra dark chocolate mousse paired with velvety Rémy Martin XO Excellence? It was divine. Each spoonful of light and airy mousse elicited gasps of delight, what with the accompanying salted toffee crumble and dusting of cinnamon-coffee powder, followed by a sip of the sumptuous blend of 85 percent Grande Champagne and 15 percent Petite Champagne. Ladies and gentlemen, this pairing stole the show.

Props to the talented Shipp and Rémy. The spirited duo is destined for greatness. Maybe they should get an agent.


French Connection Dinner at the Upper West restaurant.


February 20, 2013

Course 1: Bumble V cocktail served with Satsuma-infused golden beets / tomato-ginger vinaigrette / Rémyfied goat cheese / cilantro

Course 2: Rémy Martin V.S.O.P. served with Moroccan spiced tuna loin / piquillo-dried tomato concasse / green bean puree / Kalamata pistou / egg yolk “granita”

Course 3: Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal served with braised beef cheek / potato puree “Robuchon style” / fennel / Fresno chili / sauce á l’orange aigre-douce

Course 4: Intermezzo – Meyer lemon granita with cucumber / Thai basil

Course 5: Rémy Martin XO Excellence served with extra dark chocolate mousse, salted toffee crumble and cinnamon-coffee powder

Copyright © Michelle Gigon  / 2013 Singular Communications, LLC.

Michelle GigonMichelle Gigon is the Food, Wine & Spirits Editor for Singular magazine and the leader of SingularCity’s Girls, Guys and Grapes group. On her list of favorite things are (A) discovering memorable epicurean experiences and (B) telling people about them. A former brand agent at CAA, Michelle is also a freelance creative director on lifestyle marketing programs for Lexus, Nestlé, TV Land and Aspen Food & Wine Classic.
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4 thoughts on “The Winner: Upper West and Rémy Martin

  1. Excellent article that inspired my salivary glands to start their engines. Upper West and especially the special tasting dinner sounds well worth experiencing. Thanks for the great info, delivered with such good writing.

    1. David, you’re so kind, thank you! I really like the concept behind the tasting/pairing dinners. I’m glad to see more of these unique experiences popping up in L.A. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. Michelle,

    What an outstanding presentation. You certainly inspired me to visit and try this delectable menu on my next visit to the LA area. Superb article. Enjoyed the French Connection as well.

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