Until recently, the fine dining scene in Los Angeles, California has featured only a handful of “destination dining” worthy spots, consisting mostly of a few European white tablecloths and some premier sushi counters.
But the last year has been a game changer, and LA is back on the map when it comes to restaurants worth flying for.
Here are three newcomers to watch.
Expectations were high for James Beard Award winner chef Dave Beran’s first 18-seat, tasting-menu-only restaurant since he was previously chef de cuisine at the renowned Alinea and executive chef of Next in Chicago.
While Dialogue is simply enjoyable as a restaurant, it’s so much more interesting knowing the concept. Luckily, the chef and staff are engaging and the experience interactive. Dialogue is not just the name, it is actually taking place.
The menu showcases three seasons (in this case, end of summer, autumn and looking towards winter), and is inspired by Californian terroir and memories of the chef’s childhood in Michigan. The progression of his menu is specific. There is always one ingredient transitioning over to the next dish, and only one dish which will make it onto the next menu (four menus a year). Flavour profiles are unique and inventive, and not a copycat of past creations.
While you won’t hear his life story behind every course (there are 20, so it would take a while), the experience is intimate and memorable.
Second Floor, Gallery Food Hall
1315 Third Street Promenade Santa Monica, California
Located inside the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills is chef José Andrés and chef Aitor Zabala’s new 10-seat private dining restaurant. Although positioned inside another restaurant The Bazaar, the kitchens are run completely separate.
Chef Zabala transports his diners to Spain with Catalonian and Spanish influences throughout the menu. Molecular gastronomy is used heavily here, but don’t let that turn you off. It’s done extremely well with almost every course being better than the last, and the last was delicious. The presentation is playful, and signature dishes like his “caviar bump” served on a wooden hand are meant to be fun. He pushes boundaries and challenges all that is traditional.
465 La Cienega Boulevard Los Angeles, California
In the middle of warehouses and nothingness in Culver City sits chef Jordan Kahn’s 22-seat tasting-menu-only restaurant. It’s a supernatural dining experience probably closest to Ultraviolet in Shanghai. It’s eccentric, wild and polarizing — almost exactly what one expects from LA. It is a must-try for avante garde fine dining in North America.
The 20-something course tasting menu is no “farm-to-table” or predictable “Californian cuisine” — it’s completely different. It’s interesting, unpredictable, at times simultaneously odd and delicious, and at others, again, polarizing.
I’ll say no more because it’s best to keep you wondering with this one.
The Waffle Building
3599 Hayden Avenue, Culver City, California