Monday, November 27, 2023

71Above (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

71 Above Restaurant at US Bank Tower
633 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Mon 11/27/2023, 09:00p-11:35p

71Above View

I last posted about 71Above in September 2016, shortly after it opened. I recently found myself back here, and figured that it's high time that I filed another dining report on the place. You might recall that the restaurant opened with Vartan Abgaryan leading the charge. However, he stepped down from his post in February 2019, and thus, the man running the show these days is Executive Chef Javier Lopez, who's actually a longtime associate of Abgaryan's.

About the Chef: Javi López got interested in cooking at an early age, often helping his mom make dinner at home. He ended up attending culinary school, and then apprenticed at the Jonathan Club. Following, he secured a position at Joe's in Venice, and later moved over to XIV, Michael Mina's build-your-own-tasting menu spot near West Hollywood. In July 2011, Lopez became sous at Alex Reznik's La Seine in Beverly Hills. It was during this time where he met Reznik's friend Vartan Abgaryan, who convinced Lopez to join him at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in March 2012. However, Abgaryan soon decamped to take over the kitchen at Cliff's Edge, and again, Lopez followed at the start of 2014, becoming CdC there. The two both left the Silver Lake restaurant in the autumn of 2015 to start work on 71Above, which debuted in July the following year.

71Above Menu 71Above Cocktail List
71Above's menu is a three-course prix fixe priced at $98 a head (plus 18% service), with the wine pairing tacking on an extra $56. In addition, you get the option of supplementing with extra courses if you desire. Also shown above is the cocktail/beer list, while the surprisingly impressive wine list (still curated by Catherine Morel) can be viewed here. Click for larger versions.

Mushroom Dashi Broth
Amuse bouche duties were handled by this smoky, deeply savory mushroom dashi broth, which was perked up by the zippiness of charred scallion oil and chives. A cozy and heartwarming opener that was appropriate for the chilly weather we've been having.

Blini, Egg Yolk Jam, Chives
Caviar Service
Caviar Service [$81.00] | Kaluga, 28 Grams, Blini, Egg Yolk Jam, Chives
Kaluga caviar ate sticky and nutty, with a persistent, refined brine, and unsurprisingly, paired like clockwork with those fluffy potato blinis. You couldn't really go wrong with the chives or scallion emulsion, but my favorite accoutrement was that egg yolk jam, which had this sweetness that really complemented the roe.

Chilled Asparagus
1a: Chilled Asparagus | Citrus Sabayon, Lemon-Miso Vinaigrette, Pistachio Crumble, White Balsamic Gel
Bright, bitter slivers of asparagus were matched by a bevy of sweet, citrusy notes while the nutty bits of pistachio provided further interest.

Yellowfin Crudo
1b: Yellowfin Crudo | Tomato Vinaigrette, White Soy, Cucumber, Citrus, Finger Lime
Yellowfin arrived with a surprisingly potent kick of umami, I'm assuming courtesy of the soy. Tart, juicy cherry tomatoes offered up some contrast, and I liked the herby accent from the dill, too.

J-M Sélèque Extra Brut Soliste 1er Cru, Champagne, France 2014
To drink, I opted for the J-M Sélèque Extra Brut Soliste 1er Cru, Champagne, France 2014 [$188], a relatively uncommon bottling made from Pinot Meunier. The wine had a lovely nose filled with sweet, buttery brioche and peach--think bread with stone fruit preserves. Taking a sip, I found the sparkler superbly balanced and easy to drink, with a healthy dosing of orchard fruit joined by yeasty, toasty notes and just enough minerality. I enjoyed this quite a bit more than I was expecting to.

Farm Salad
1c: Farm Salad [$29.00] | Lettuces, Market Vegetables, Seeds, Goat Cheese, Citrus Vinaigrette
The requisite salad came together nicely. I appreciated the interplay between all the nutty, bitter, and fruity flavors here, tied together by a kumquat-boosted vinaigrette. The juicy, semi-sweet, salted-roasted beets made pretty good sense, too, while just as important was the creamy chèvre, which imparted a certain heft to the dish. Nice crunch from that cracker, too.

Grilled Octopus
1d: Grilled Octopus [$29.00] | Smoked Paprika, Morita Chili, Fingerling Potatoes, Celery, Lemon
The octo was a toucher chewier than I'd prefer, but was nonetheless still rather enjoyable. The pungency of that smoked paprika emulsion paired seamlessly, and I was a fan of those hearty potatoes as well. However, the tang of the pickled celery was a bit overpowering, so I could've used less of it on the plate.

Ōra King Salmon
2a: Ōra King Salmon | Fish Fumet, Tomatillo, Epazote, Lime, Avocado, Shelling Beans, Chochoyotes
Salmon sported a pleasingly rare cook (though I wouldn't have minded it even rarer), and was taken up a notch by the headiness of the fumet. The beans imparted a welcomed weightiness, while all that greenery served as a counterpoint to the fish.

A5+ Japanese Wagyu – Filet Mignon, 6oz
2b: A5+ Japanese Wagyu – Filet Mignon, 6oz [$110.00] | Charred Gai Lan, Black Garlic, Peanut, Lime, Coriander Vinaigrette
A well-seared Wagyu tenderloin was luxurious without being overtly decadent. The bitterness of the kai-lan worked to offset the meat, and I didn't mind the peanuts, either. My concern here was with the black garlic, which was too intense by my reckoning.

Spiced Carrot Granita
3a: Spiced Carrot Granita | Cream Cheese, Raisin, Pineapple, Almond Streusel, Pecan Ice Cream
The creation of Pastry Chef Filiberto Flores (Yours Truly, Wolfdown, 71Above), our first dessert was essentially a reimagined carrot cake. It was a fun take on the classic, and I was particularly fond of the streusel.

Chai Poached Pears
3b: Chai Poached Pears | Pear Brandy, Walnut, Diplomat Cream, Palmier, Chocolate Chai Ice Cream
The sweet-n-spicy nature of chai tea was well conveyed in this dessert, especially thanks to the ice cream, and I liked the hits of nuttiness present, too. As for my favorite component, it'd have to be that delicate, flaky puff pastry.

I've always maintained that the food at 71Above is better than it needs to be for a "view" restaurant, and based on tonight's meal, that much still holds true under Lopez's leadership, a few gripes notwithstanding. This place is a pretty important Downtown dining spot by my estimation, and I'll probably make my way back here eventually.


Blogger BMan1113VR said...

Odd to see an asparagus dish and raw tomatoes on a fall tasting many. The food looks good though.

Monday, January 15, 2024 1:57:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

That's a good point. Do you think the kitchen is sourcing those ingredients from places in the world where they're still in season?

Wednesday, January 17, 2024 8:23:00 AM  

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