Monday, March 31, 2008

Cobras and Matadors

Cobras and Matadors

(323) 932-6178
7615 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Adequately Fed: $30
Green Lentils Sauteed with Jamon Serrano**
Bacaolao Salt Cod Cakes with Aioli***
Roasted Game Hen in a Catalan Sweet and Sour Sauce***
French Toast*****
(Out of Five Stars)

As part of Los Angeles' Restaurant Week, Cobras and Matadors features a prix fixe menu for $25 a person for a three-course meal usually priced around $30. Not much of a discount, but enough to make this place a good value. For more information on Restaurant Week, visit

For each course, appetizer, main course, and dessert, there are three options to choose from. My companion and I chose different items to share to try to get a small plates tapas experience. Tapas are a wide variety of Spanish appetizers that can be combined to form meals. I suppose it would be the equivalent of Iberian dim sum. Looking at our selections however, I don't think most of these are traditional tapas dishes. But I won't let that detract from my opinion of an excellent plate.

Both of the appetizers, cod cakes and lentils, exhibited the qualities I like to see in each respectively. The cod cakes had a crisp exterior with a juicy interior topped with aioli that did not overwhelm, but complemented the fish. I have never eaten lentils outside of a soup, but this dish sauteed with Spanish ham gave me quite a surprise. Contrary to what I thought, they were crunchy and not mushy. The flavor had hints of Balsamic vinegar that made these legumes tart and sweet. It was excellent in small quantities, but it felt too heavy to finish.

Cod cakes and Lentils

I once roasted a game hen brined in papaya nectar that turned out tender and sweet. Cobra and Matador's game hen reminded me of my own experiment. Though the sauce was good, with a fruity flavor of apples or pears, it was too sweet. The chicken was overcooked and relied too heavily on the sauce to convey flavor. It could have used a longer marination if it had any at all. The paella had a creamy risotto consistency with mussels, clams, prawns, chorizo topping saffron rice. I love good paella that does not feel dried out or grainy. The texture of this dish fit that description, though it was a little sour for my tastes. The chorizo gets a special commendation for taste.

Game Hen and Paella

To finish off our night, we sampled the flan and French toast desserts. My first forkful of the flan was strangely unfamiliar. I don't know if it is because I haven't had flan in a long time, or if it was somehow different. But with each successive bite, I found myself more and more enamored with this caramel custard. The whipped cream was excellent. It always pleases me when restaurants pay attention to such details as these. Bad whipped cream always seem to be a distraction from an otherwise good dessert. The French toast also came with whipped cream and a plump strawberry. It had a great flavor as well.


Overall, the amount of food was just right. I left the restaurant feeling great without being weighed down by the food or lightened by my emptier wallet. The service was friendly; the buser even offered to take a picture of us when he spot us taking pictures of the food. The venue is small but picturesque. It seemed to fill up around 8:00, but with a reservation, you should be fine. My gripe is with the tight seating, tables almost side to side. Also, the acoustics were terrible, making a cacophony of overlapping conversations. I really did not care what my neighbor thought of her pets. But even this was not enough to deter me from giving Cobras and Matadors a good review.

Recommendation: Valet is $5.50 so look for side streets. Not cheap enough to go often, but delicious enough to treat yourself from time to time.

A special thanks to my photographer, my lovely girlfriend Yoko.


joshua said...

I gotta say that this is one of the very best blogs I've ever visited yet.

Congrats! Take these words like a blossom blessing as I'm bloging around.


Anonymous said...

I also really liked reading this restaurant description. It is not possible to find a complete representation of a restaurant without visiting yourself, but this review gave a great taste, without bias (from what I can tell). Thank you!

spain itinerary said...

Yumy Paella ! The food in those photos looks great, I am literally getting hungry right now.