Posted in food, reviews
July 29, 2010

Setá : Uptown Whittier

For our anniversary TheBoy and I went to Setá, a restaurant in Uptown Whittier. The chef, Hugo Molina, has gotten a fair amount of coverage for his work in the community- educating youths about healthy food and sustainability, as well as his use of organic, local and sustainable ingredients. Not only that, it’s been dubbed a must for Foodies, so how could we not go?

We made reservations, which I’d say are a must. It’s a small restaurant, with about a dozen or so tables. So if you’re there on a crowded night, you might be out of luck if you show up without one – though the lounge portion does have access to the full menu.

While the picture’s blurry, it’s pretty representative of the decor. Sleek, clean lines everywhere. Gorgeous.

We were seated by the window, which gives you a view of Philadelphia St, and a city parking lot.

It sounds like a terrible view, but it really isn’t. Uptown Whittier is made up of a lot of older buildings, and has a neat sort of vibe to it. A little old, a little hip, and all with a small town vibe- which is neat, as it’s not that far from Downtown LA.

Again, another slightly blurry pic, and a not so great pic of TheBoy (sorry, baby!). Shared because you can see the gorgeous bar/lounge in the background. There’s actually a separate lounge that’s adjoining, and had live music, but we didn’t peek our head in there. They have their own menu, as well as access to the full restaurant menu.

When this picture was taken, we’d ordered our appetizers and drinks, and were enjoying the rolls. Which were fabulous- as was the butter.
This would be my Coconut Mojito. While you might read that and think that it was using Malibu rum or something like that- oh no no no. It was a lime and mint, muddled in coconut water (the liquid from a young coconut) with Bacardi rum.

It was light, refreshing, and such a wonderful twist on one of my favorite drinks. I’m definitely going to try duplicating it at home.

It’s also led to a slight obsession with coconut water. I bought some at the grocery store today, it made me so happy (as did the discovery that it’s one thing in the single serve aseptic packaging that the oldest kidlet doesn’t like).

This would be the Dungeness Crab Cake, with a lobster cream sauce. At least, it’s most of it. I admit, I’m a horrible foodie at times. My first instinct is to dive in, not to document. This is why I stick with the moniker of food enthusiast.

The crab cake was luscious- plenty of lumps and fried delicately, topped with a mango salsa. This may or may not have sparked a recent obsession with mango. (Excitingly, the coconut juice I found had mango in it, too!) Alright, it did. All too quickly, it was gone, and I couldn’t wait to see what the entree would bring- given that this was a splendid way to start off a meal.

This was TheBoy’s entree. The Alaskan King Salmon, topped with a chardonnay whole mustard cream, served on shaved brussels sprouts, with cream cheese mashed potatoes as well as vegetables.

I got a bite of everything, and my goodness was it wonderful. The mashed potatoes were creamy and full of flavor. The salmon was perfectly cooked, the sauce full of flavor- and the brussels sprouts were delicious. If you weren’t a fan as a kid, seriously, try theirs. It is wonderful.

And now, the best chicken I’ve ever had. This is the Petaluma Free Range Chicken, with mushroom agnolotti (a half moon ravioli filled with mushroom and fried crisp), with a truffle sauce.

The chicken was moist, the skin crisp. The sauce was rich, earthy and velvety. The agnolotti was crispy and just… honestly, words fail how wonderful this was.

I’ll put it simply- I ate the entire crab cake, which was about 4″ around and 2 1/2″ tall. Knowing that we would be ordering our own desserts, I ate half the chicken, all the agnolotti and most of the vegetables. I over ate, simply because the food was that good.

They whisked away my leftovers, bringing back an adorable little paper box with my chicken inside. We ordered our dessert and enjoyed some conversation while we waited.

Here is the Tangy Lemon. A meyer lemon cheesecake, served on an almond cookie (as its crust) with a strawberry coulis. I hadn’t yet poured mine (our waiter was so kind to wait until I got a picture), but you can see the completed dessert in the background with TheBoy.

I honestly have no idea how this was made- since the cookie is separate from the cheesecake. But you know, I just don’t mind. It was tart and not overly sweet and the almond cookie gave it a nice bite and sweetness.

It was so good I might not try the others!

All in all, I can’t wait to go back and try something else. The restaurant’s been open for a little over a year, and in reading many of the Yelp! reviews, it seemed that a lot of the disappointed foodies who visited went right when it opened or still within the first few months. Service was excellent- our server was knowledgable, wonderful and just attentive enough. Yes, it bothers me when they hover.

The price range is high- I will say that. It might knock it out of contention for an any night dinner for any SoCal readers, but definitely consider it for a special night out.

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