Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: August 8, 2016
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Awesome in all ways
Besides being located on the 71st floor (950 feet up!) of the US Bank building, being the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi, and showcasing the food of Chef Vartan Abgaryan, it’s owned and operated by my friend Emil Eyvazoff!
And behind that is the stunning dining room with its computer controlled auto tinting windows. Beyond that the view continues all the way around with the chef’s table and several more intimate private dining areas.
The view alone is worth the price of admission, and offers varied sights depending on your 360 degree angle. Notice how even the second tallest building downtown (seen under construction here) is below eye level! On a clear day you can easily see the vast sweep of the Pacific and several mountain ranges.
Ron brought: 2005 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. VM 94. Bright yellow. Vibrant pear and melon aromas are complicated by suggestions of ginger, brioche and smoky minerals. Dry, smoky and precise, offering intense orchard and pit fruit flavors that gain weight with aeration. A dusty mineral quality adds focus and lift to the long, penetrating, floral finish. There’s a Burgundian thing going on here that’s quite intriguing.
From my cellar: 2008 Henri Boillot Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. VM 91-94. Musky, highly complex aromas of lemon, lime and hazelnut. Sweet on entry, then impressively tensile in the middle palate, offering superb intensity to its citrus, spice and mineral flavors. This tactile, penetrating wine builds impressively toward the back end and finishes with outstanding lift and persistence. Rigorous, almost painful, wine, but wonderfully rich for chardonnay with barely 13% alcohol. These vines are in the upper portion of Charmes, next to the top of Puligny-Montrachet Combettes.
Amanda brought: 2013 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Chevalier-Montrachet. BH 92-94. There is enough wood to remark upon to the spicy nose of citrus peel, acacia blossom and plenty of wet stone nuances. The rich, powerful, vibrant, fresh and beautifully detailed middle weight plus flavors brim with an intense minerality on the firm and hugely long and saline-inflected finish that is almost painfully intense. This is clearly built to age and will need at least 5 years to harmonize and will reward at least 10.
Ron brought: 2012 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Corton-Charlemagne. VM 93+. Ineffable perfume to the aromas of lemon, lime, lavender and crushed stone. Juicy, tangy and youthfully tight, with a distinctly dusty, extract-rich texture to the flavors of citrus peel, flowers, fleur de sel and minerals. A classic Corton-Charlemagne from vines harvested late (Colin has two sources, one in Aloxe and the other in Pernand; the two vignerons harvested on the same day and Colin carried out a single vinification). The crop level was normal as there was no hail here.
With a tangy green sauce. Not only is this dish gorgeous, but it had a really bright quality and a great interplay of textures. Isn’t it interesting to note how the humble radish has become such a staple part of recent dishes? Mostly I assume because of it’s striking color contrast and crunchy texture.
Chevy brought: 2007 Marcassin Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard. 94 points. Delicious and elegant chard with tasty fruit, mineral notes, and oak on a silky palate and long finish.
Larry brought: 2010 Sine Qua Non The Monkey. VM 91. Bright gold. Deeply pitched aromas of pit fruit nectar, orange marmalade and coconut, with a smoky topnote. Lush and expansive, offering palate-staining peach, melon and honey flavors and a late jolt of spiciness that adds lift. Shows a wild blend of richness and energy that will allow it to work with a wide range of foods. A weighty yet lively white blend with impressive finishing energy and refreshing bitterness.
Tomato Tart. Heirloom Tomato, Burrata, 25-Year Balsamic, Basil, Parmesan. Chef Abgaryan really likes to play with texture and tangy/sweet combinations. The play here between the peeled tomatoes, marinated and acidic, and the sweet buttery crunchy pastry and the soft burrata and chewy parm — awesome!
From my cellar: 1978 Camille Giroud Pommard 1er Cru. 93 points. Vibrant cherry, with truffle, tobacco and chocolate. Very expressive in all regards. It came across as, possibly, a Barolo at first due to the strong cherry and earthy charateristics. Sustained power balanced by elegance and smooth tannins with a very long finish. In the end, undenyably Brugandy.
From my cellar: 1998 Domaine Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin Très Vieilles Vignes. VM 95+. Saturated ruby. Knockout nose combines dark berries, violets, spices and smoked meat. A ’98 of remarkable sweetness and depth. Huge but broad tannins are completely buffered by the wine’s sheer concentration. Resounding, utterly fresh finish. This comes across as more accessible today than the Mazis or Griottes due to its sheer volume and sweetness, but it should age well for two decades.
Brian and Jennifer brought: 2005 Faiveley Clos Vougeot. BH 92-95. This too is very deftly oaked with an earthy and very ripe mix of briar, dark berry fruit and pungent underbrush aromas leading to muscled, energetic and sappy flavors where the mid-palate fat almost completely buffers the firm though not aggressive tannins that add a chewy texture to the gorgeously long finish. There is a really attractive underlying tension here but like most of these grands crus, this is a wine for the patient that will last for decades.
Amanda brought: 1990 Château Léoville Las Cases. JK 96+. Deep, dense ruby. Lovely nose, dense with blackcurrant, a little graphite and the faintest hint of cigar box. Rich and plush on the palate, fine grained and pretty much fully resolved tannins, densely velvety.
Ron brought: 1985 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. 94 points. Clear medium blood-ruby-brick red. Lovely complex mature bouquet of red currant paste, cranberries, rose petals, cedar, orange peel, black tea, old leather and stony red soil. Oh so smooth and mellow on the palate, with balanced acidity and fully resolved tannins. Not big or bold enough for some people, but I could cozy up with this all night.
Larry brought: 2007 Domaine Grand Veneur Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes. RR 96+. Bright purple. Exotically perfumed bouquet of ripe raspberry, boysenberry and cherry, with complicating notes of cola, sassafras and star anise. Deep, juicy dark fruit flavors provide impressive palate coverage and are braced by zesty minerality. The dark berry and cola notes resonate on the long, focused finish. This is already appealing but seems built to age.
Suckling pig. Loin, Belly, Confit Pressé, Young Lettuces, Cherry, Mustard. An awesome trio of pig. The rich pork belly, the succulent loin, moist and with delicious herbal notes, and the confit fritter. Wow! A bit of chorizo juice on top too.
Overall, 71Above is just a seriously well conceived and executed one-of-a-kind restaurant. Really, it’s more like a NY, Singapore, or Tokyo kind of concept. First of all, the view is just awesome. I can’t wait to come back on a really clear day. Particularly once they begin brunch service, a nice winter day will offer an observation deck like panorama.
But then Emil and crew built out such a lovely space to capture the drama. It’s modern, but welcoming. Not too loud, you can here the conversation and the music both. And from when you enter off the double elevator ascent it folds from one experience to another: lounge, dining room, more intimate corridors, chef table, quiet and romantic view areas in the back, and a series of two adjustable private dining rooms. The attention to architectural detail is amazing.
Then the menu has a creative format with a fixed price (currently $70) and three savory courses. You can pick from six options per category. If you are a glutton like me, you can add extra courses – and of course dessert.
But an interesting menu wouldn’t be anything without great execution. As you can see above the plating is modern but approachable and highly attractive. But the flavor on the dishes is paramount, and really quite excellent, particularly considering their complexity and textural variation. There is a balanced quality between opposite forces in Chef Abgaryan’s cooking that pulls from Chinese culinary theory, while that specific flavors and combinations are largely American/European. It’s both approachable and sophisticated. Bravo!