In a season packed with openings, Angelenos have their pick of new and notable dining options. Here are five we’re betting have just what it takes to stand out from the L.A. crowd and the test of time.
New kid on the block East Borough elevates French-influenced Vietnamese classics with intense emphasis on seasonal market-driven produce, seafood and meats served with a lot of soul, in the heart of Culver City. Palates sing when pomelo, crab-paste butter and ginger-jasmine rice take the small plate offering of head-on blue shrimp to the next level. While the tamarind-glazed lamb ribs with crushed peanuts, Sriracha and Thai basil are the epitome of this global mash-up, where Provence meets Saigon. The collaboration between Paul Hibler (Pitfire Pizza, Superba Snack Bar), Superba chef Jason Neroni and partners John Cao and chef Chloe Tran presents an exciting, intimate dining room and unpretentious, lively modern décor, which lend the sophisticated plates and original concept a neighborhood feel in the best way, like a local’s secret find.
The ever innovative trailblazer, chef Josef Centeno (Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá) ignites the gastronomic scene with Orsa & Winston — a restaurant in Downtown’s Old Bank District reflecting Japanese and Italian culinary traditions. Dinners are served in courses spanning from a family-style, four-course meal ($50 per person) to a 20-plus course “super omakase” menu at the four-seat chef’s counter at $195 per person. For example, you can start your evening with fresh kanpachi crudo in a perfectly balanced persimmon and anchovy jus, and end with a delicate pear ricotta cake. Seating only 33, guests are blissfully engulfed in the dining experience amongst the Caesarstone counters, the wallpaper designed to resemble crystalized umeboshi paste and a luxe, cognac-colored window sofa. The libations, from heady Old World vintages to a tightly curated selection of beer and sake, are also chosen to indulge the senses.
The dining room at Mondrian Los Angeles boasts breathtaking views. Enter celebrity chef Brian Malarkey (Top Chef) and restaurateur James Brennan, who opened Herringbone’s L.A. outpost in January. The elegant ocean-to-table, “fish-meats-field” concept not only takes advantage of the dazzling panorama and indoor-outdoor dining spaces but also serves sublime and beautifully plated seafood, ranging from family-style whole fish ceviche to a remixed classic lobster thermidor infused with smoked vanilla. Malarkey explains the experience as the “fabric of social dining” where guests can linger for hours “as the lights dim and the music picks up,” creating a memorable meal. At night the all-white candlelit room is decidedly romantic, with an otherworldly nautical theme featuring ropy chandeliers, giant urchins and glowing lanterns that evoke underwater life.
At République, diners eat and drink French-inspired fare in a space steeped in both Old Hollywood and foodie history. The eatery lives in a landmark of architectural beauty with a storied past serving as Charlie Chaplin’s offices when it was built in 1929 and as the home of legendary gourmand staples Campanile and La Brea Bakery, opened by chefs Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton in 1989 and shuttered in 2012. Launched at the end of 2013 by husband-and-wife chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke together with restaurateur Bill Chait, the laid-back bar and bistro spins familiar dishes into unexpected bites such as eggs on toast, a comforting combination of Santa Barbara uni and soft-scrambled eggs at the communal table in the front of the restaurant. A more intimate, formal dinner is served in the back beneath soaring ceilings, including delicious seasonal options such as live Santa Barbara spot prawns with Romanesco cauliflower, brown butter, lemon and capers. The bar comes alive in the evenings, offering a stellar wine list and outstanding charcuterie.
Opened in January at the breathtaking, gothic Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, L.A. Chapter brings urbane sensibility in a small but perfectly appointed dining room decked out with black-and-white tile floors and plush banquettes that conjure up chic Paris bistros and hip New York City cafés. Restaurateur Jud Mongell and chef Ken Addington of Brooklyn’s Five Leaves eatery partnered with the Ace Hotel to create a communal space that serves many purposes — from morning coffee by Stumptown and after-work drinks to an intimate date night — as well as tasty food such as roasted black cod with gingered leeks, baby bok choy, Meyer lemon and sunchokes. The housemade ricotta with fresh figs, thyme and honeycomb with grilled fruit bread accompanied by a crisp sauvignon blanc is sure to become an addiction this spring.
Photos Courtesy of Alen Lin, Dylan + Jeni and Ryan Tanaka