Restaurant: 71Above [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: June 6, 2017
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Awesome in all ways
This is my fifth visit to one of LA’s latest and hottest event restaurants, 71Above. The first can be found here. Tonight is my wife and her sister’s birthday so we slogged through nearly 2 hours of traffic to downtown.
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!
This is no casual opening, but a massive (and gorgeous) multipart buildout that encompasses the entire floor. Above is part of the lounge/bar.
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.
Some bonus rose champagne from our host Emil.
Plus we opened both these bottles side by side:
From my cellar (and the restaurant has it on its list): NV Savart Champagne Bulle de Rosé. JG 93. The Savart “Bulles de Rosé” is excellent wine. The cépages is seventy percent pinot noir, twenty-two percent chardonnay and eight percent still red wine (also pinot noir). The wine was finished off with a dosage of six grams per liter and offers up a very complex and still fairly youthful nose of strawberries, blood orange, chalky soil tones, fresh baked bread, caraway seed, orange zest and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, complex and beautifully balanced, with a fine core, lovely soil signature, refined mousse and a long, crisp and complex finish. This is superb juice.
From my cellar: 2005 Morey-Blanc Corton-Charlemagne. BH 94. More evident wood with hints of spice and vanilla frames the green fruit and spiced apple aromas and a trace of it can also be found on the full-bore, rich and intense big-bodied flavors blessed with excellent concentration and muscle, all wrapped in a minerally, delicious and serious finish of superb length.
Butter and cheese pasta. For my son. Haha.
Gem Lettuce. Lemon, caper, parmesan, chervil, anchovy, garlic breadcrumbs.
Beets. Chocolate wheat berries, blood orange, kumquat, cocoa nib.
Hamachi. Crudo, matcha, tofu, mulberry, masago, fresno chile, basils.
English Pea. Chilled soup, shiso, hazelnut, mint, buttermilk. Really yummy soup. Gazpacho-like.
Carrot. Pickled raisin, kefir, chermoula, sunflower seed, mint.
White asparagus. XO sauce, uni aioli, basil, sea bean.
Morels. Cavatelli, english peas, pistachio, pecorino cream, mint, lemon.
Foie gras. Mousse, strawberry, rhubarb, black pepper crumble, wild fennel, cashew. Soft and sweet with interesting textures.
Halibut. Fava, sugar snap peas, asparagus, carrots, lemon verbena.
Young chicken breast. Swiss chard, beets, black truffle, buttermilk, dried cherry, jus gras.
Spring Lamb. Loin, crepinette, ramp panisse, fava, plum, pickled mustard.
I brought some gelato I had made for my wife’s birthday: Amareno on the left (white base with cherry’s I picked myself) and Stracciatella on the right (white base with chocolate drizzled in).
Creme Faiche Mousse. Cassis Lemon Curd, Creme Anglaise, Dill Kefir-Cassis Foam, Creme Fraiche Ice cream.
Caramelia Custard. Laproaig 10yr Scotch Caramel. Coconut sorbet, smoked pork powder, praline hazelnuts, Himalayan pink salt. Amazing flavor combo and texture. Really good. Particularly the pork powder really brought it up.
Chocolate. Cremeux, gel, ganache, smoked yogurt sorbet.
The group of us.
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. At the chef’s table one gets a 6 course (+ a few bonuses) for a very reasonable (considering what you get) $110 a person!
It should also be noted that an interesting menu wouldn’t be anything without great execution. As you can see in this post, 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!