Location:222 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Date: December 12, 2015
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Meaty goodness
The stylish DTLA location is right next to the Disney Concert Hall and Patina. Otium’s concept is very much 2015. The loud hard surfaces, no tablecloths, paper menus, elegant but superficially informal style, emphasis on shared plates. All typical of new trendy eateries. I have no problem with most of these trends, except the noise. Otium is about 80-90% of the volume of Republique, which is still too loud.
But the space does look good. Here is our private “room”. More an area, an attractive one too and it worked quite well — except for the noise. Service was fabulous. You can see the wine glasses arrayed in front and they were individually labeled for each wine. I love not having to reuse stems. That way you can go back to and savor previous flights.
Chef Timothy Hollingsworth (above) cooked at the French Laundry for five years — that’s pretty enough said. As you’ll see, his food has not only very contemporary plating, but very bright ingredient driven flavors with deft pairings.
A pair of passing apps. Hamachi. Nori, Avocado, Sweet & Sour Tomatoes. This had a real citrus zing in the mix, lending an addictive brightness and making for a fabulous pairing with the Champagne.
Arancini. Typical Roman fried rice balls. These were nice and moist in the center, with great texture.
Greg Castells is our host, and as president of Martine’s Wines he brings some serious wine power into the room. The founder, Martine herself also joined us, and they brought bottles of rare wines in stunning condition. Martine’s imports some of France’s top artisanal producers. These include crazy great Burgundy like Leroy and Jayer and insane Rhones like Rayas.
Scallop tart with caviar, sea urchin, and truffle. Wow. First off the crust was to-die-for flakey. Then the rich pairing of soft umami flavors from the scallop (raw), caviar, and uni. Almost like a Yamakase dish (except the pastry). Great start. And a great pairing with the Champy.
1996 Domaine d’Auvenay (Lalou Bize-Leroy) Meursault Les Narvaux. Burgound 90. Slight petroleum notes make for an odd nose but the middle weight, pure and delineated flavors are blessed with great sève and impressive concentration. The finish delivers excellent cut, definition and exceptional length. In sum, this is a lovely and altogether stunning wine for its level. Note: another recent bottle was very underwhelming as it was somewhat flat and without the lift and vivacity displayed by the bottle reviewed above.
2002 Domaine d’Auvenay (Lalou Bize-Leroy) Meursault Les Narvaux. Tanzer 92+. Pale yellow. Perfumed nose combines minerals, flint, smoke and a roasted nuance. Superconcentrated yet downright elegant, with strongly mineral flavors of lemon and liquid stone. Finishes with superb length and lemony cut.
This dish was insane. The rice was cooked down to that perfect creamy (congee-like) consistency. Nice cheesy quality. Then the rich butter and truffle factor, and even the delicate hazelnut crunch. Amazing pairing too with the whites.
1964 Maison Leroy Grands-Echezeaux. AG 94. Leroy’s 1964 Grands-Echézeaux was simply phenomenal. A model of clarity and precision, it flowed with sensations of red cherries, spices and mint, showing remarkable poise as well as freshness.
agavin 97: My WOTN (and a close call with the 02 Narvaux). Tons of delineated fruit, precise, with a lovely balance on the palette.
1991 Domaine Leroy Clos Vougeot. Burghound 92. This has always been a very impressive wine and one that I have watched evolve since the wine’s release. It has developed an interesting floral element to go with the regal, still entirely fresh fruit and earth notes and it remains completely primary on the nose, indeed even brooding. The flavors are big, rich and powerful and offer outstanding complexity and while the tannins are just beginning to soften, this remains a youngster with a bright future. This should offer an exceptionally wide drinking window and for perfectly stored bottles, it needs another ten years to really be at its peak. Multiple, and consistent, notes.
agavin: 90 points. Deeper colored. This has a bit of that strong Burgundy flavor that MZ declared as “horse”. I taste it all the time and it isn’t our favorite. This note marred an otherwise excellent wine.
Here begins the Flannery Beef meats, this one actually being pork. Bryan Flannery was there with us and his passion for bringing the best meat to the table really stood out, both personally and in the flesh itself 🙂
1999 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Cros Parantoux. Burghound 94. It seems that this has barely budged since it was bottled and at this point, the 750 ml note remains accurate though I found a bit less wood influence here than I did in the smaller format version: An expressive, ripe and elegant nose of Vosne style spice, moderate oak and a mix of earth, minerals and violets leads to rich, round and impressively precise flavors that deliver serious punch and excellent depth. I very much like the overall sense of harmony and fine balance here. This should age well and Jayer lovers will definitely be pleased. Note that in this format the ’99 Cros will age for decades and it will require at least 20 years for this to be at its best.
agavin. 94 points. Superbly balanced, but brooding, young, and a bit closed.
2001 Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Cros Parantoux. Burghound 91. Explosive aromas of Vosne spice, fresh earth, soy and candied plum soar from the glass and the Cros does a better job of integrating the moderately toasty oak notes. It is also much more concentrated and one can literally smell the density as the powerful, complex, intense yet defined flavors offer impressive depth and persistence. This is really lovely if not incredible juice by the standards of this wine.
agavin: 95 points. This was much more open with an amazing searing finish. Great young Burg.
Flannery Beef Callote. So rich it was almost like Wagyu. Cooked perfectly too. A real heart stopper and delicious.
Flannery Beef brisket. Served on this little Totoraku-style grill. Dense and delicious.
1989 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape (magnum). Parker 97-98. A wine that continues to catch up to the 1990 (and probably has greater longevity) is the 1989. A dense-colored Rayas, but not as thick-looking as the 1990, this dark ruby-colored wine exhibits plenty of roasted herb notes intermixed with scents of tobacco, sweet creme de cassis, and kirsch. Full-bodied, highly-extracted, powerful, and tannic (resembling 1995 more than 1990), it is shedding its cloak of tannin and beginning to approach full maturity.
1996 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape (magnum). Parker 89-91. This lighter-styled wine appears diluted in terms of color, but it possesses surprising quantities of sweet black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of resin, licorice, and tobacco. It is a medium to full-bodied Chateauneuf with far more flavor and intensity than its light-ish colors suggest. The wine requires consumption over the next 5-8 years.
Lamb loin. Pine nuts, pole beans, tomato, yogurt. This huge rich dish (and we had one of these each!) featured some seriously delicious lamb, and an almost risotto made of pine nuts. The yogurt really brightened it up too, and in combination with the flavors gave the whole thing a bit of a middle eastern vibe.
1937 Château Gilette Crème de Tête. 93 points. Pristine condition, even given its age. The nose is so expressive – apricot, orange rind, bees wax, creme brûlée. Wow. Outstanding mouth feel, and length to burn. Tremendous.
Banana Cream Grand Macaron. Various caky and puffy bits in a giant macaron.
1970 Niepoort Porto Vintage. 94 points. Unbelievable bottle! So ridiculously dark. Coffee nose. Very young and dense. Seems surprisingly primary. Still some unresolved tannins. Long finish. With more time, there is an appealing confectionery aspect that emerges. I have had other bottles of this wine and they were more than ready to drink (and actually quite average). This particular bottle needs at least 10 more years of bottle age. Superb!
Overall this was another incredible evening.
The food was pretty awesome. The scallops and risotto incredible, and the then the assault of amazing meats. My favorites of those were the pork, the wagyu-like steak, and the lamb. There was so much food I couldn’t even finish my lamb. It must have been thousands of calories of meat.
The wines too were out of this world. I was slightly let down by the Clos Parantoux, only because they were great rather than absolutely mind blowing. But the 64 Grands-Ech and the 02 Narvaux were absolutely amazing — and there wasn’t one “bad” one in the bunch, the “worst” of the lot being the 91 Clos Vougeot — and it was still a nice wine. But even the most illustrious roster has to have a ranking.
I’ll be back to Otium both for more wine dinners I’m sure, and to try the menu under more typical circumstances. The overall balance of the normal menu is less meat heavy. Meat there is, but there is also quite a bit of seafood.
Thanks again to Martine’s wines and Otium for putting together such a wonderful event.