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RESTAURANT REVIEW : J’Adore in Palos Verdes Estates Is Tres Bon

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Palos Verdes Estates is quiet, lovely, spacious, unspoiled. In other words, remote. You could even say downright isolated. It’s the sort of place you wouldn’t ordinarily drive through unless you had a quiet, spacious house there. And also, not to put too fine a point on it, the kind of wealthy bedroom community where you wouldn’t expect to find a restaurant you’d be able to remember the next day.

However, there is a memorable little restaurant in Lunada Bay, a sort of wide place off Palos Verdes Drive West. J’Adore is where a fellow named Jose Dahan, the former executive chef at Redondo Beach’s Le Beaujolais, landed as of last January.

On a Monday evening, I found J’Adore extremely quiet, inhabited by nobody but a waitress, who also happens to be part owner. But it’s a pleasant place, done in gray and fuchsia with floral paintings. I was happy to be there, and was won over by a wonderful appetizer: tender, sweet slices of raw scallop in a quite salty soy-mustard sauce with some black mustard seeds floating in it.

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The menu, which changes every week, is always a seven-course dinner. Your only area of choice is the entree. I took a soft-shell crab which turned out to be staggeringly good, crisply breaded and served with a basil cream sauce and some exquisite strips of grilled eggplant mixed with pimientos and olives.

The cheese course--there’s always a cheese course--consisted of Brie, goat cheese and the rather more uncommon St. Paulin, all properly served at room temperature. The pastry that followed was a wonderful raspberry-blackberry tart with a rich layer of ground pecans under the pastry cream.

This was clearly worth going to Palos Verdes for. I went back another week on a Tuesday and still another on a Friday, which incidentally proved that J’Adore can get crowded on weekends. Among the hits served those weeks:

A pistachio-studded pheasant pate with rather lemony aspic and a slice of pear in it. An austere bouillabaisse, like a creamless bisque with plenty of saffron in it. Intense pear sorbet one night, intense raspberry sorbet another. A quail salad, with the usual meager little bird being enriched with a subtle stuffing of pork and chicken. Sweet, fresh salmon in understated cream-ginger sauce. Chicken in a rich sauce of cream, veal glaze and Stilton cheese. A crepe filled with hot apricot puree and topped with custard sauce and raspberry puree.

A lot of work goes into all this, though not always, I’m afraid, to quite such good effect. Oysters in won tons with orange caviar proved less exciting than the name suggested, and the soups can be excessively mild, such as celery-flavored broth and a rather flavorless consomme. One night I took a steak garnished with tasty “sweetbread crisps,” little fried pieces of sweetbread. The vegetables formed a beautiful pattern: a cherry tomato, a minuscule green tomato, an infinitesimal turnip, and today’s usual snow peas, long beans and carrots, plus a purple potato (which at first tasted like artichoke). The steak, unfortunately, could have been a little more tender.

But J’Adore is quite a good little restaurant and about the only thing that would ever get me to drive down to quiet, spacious, remote Palos Verdes Estates. Unless, of course, I happened to get a quiet, spacious house on Lunada Bay.

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J’Adore, 724 Yarmouth Road, Palos Verdes Estates. (213) 541-3316. Open for dinner Mondays through Saturdays. Wine only. Street parking. All major credit cards accepted. Dinner for two, food only, $54.

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