Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: February 9, 2018
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Awesome in all ways
This is my sixth visit to one of LA’s latest and hottest event restaurants, 71Above. The first can be found here. Tonight is the combined birthday of Foodie Club partner in crime Erick and my friend Liz Lee!
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.
2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. VM 95. Brioche, dried pear, smoke, almonds, chamomile and wild herbs are all laced together in Krug’s 2000 Vintage. A wine of striking depth and resonance, the 2000 is absolutely gorgeous today. The first signs of very early tertiary complexity have begun to appear while the acidity is softening, both of which make the 2000 delicious today. At the same time, there is no hurry. I imagine the 2000 will still be gorgeous 20 years from now. Slight elements of reduction linger on the close. The blend is 43% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier, a rare vintage in which Chardonnay is quite high.
2000 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet. VM 95. The 2000 Chevalier-Montrachet is quite a bit brighter and fresher than the 1999 tasted just prior. Here the flavors are bright, precise and lifted. Orchard fruit, slate, smoke, citrus and white flowers are all beautifully delineated, with perfumed, mineral notes that ring out on the finish. The 2000 is in a beautiful place today.
2014 Louis Jadot Bâtard-Montrachet. VM 94+. White peach, white flowers and spices on the lively nose. Delivers an outstanding combination of richness and brightness, with vibrant lemony acidity framing and energizing the flavors of stone fruits, lemon and acacia flower. This very long, palate-staining Batard should offer superb aging potential.
2003 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. BH 91. The white flower and very ripe green apple aromas are nuanced by notes of straw and melon with rich, sweet and opulent medium full flavors that are thick, powerful and display ample pain grillé plus a touch of bitter lemon on the long finish. This is a dense, mouth coating wine with huge amounts of dry extract and while it will certainly age, there is so much baby fat present that it could be approached now. A very fine example for the vintage.
2007 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. VM 92+. Pale yellow. Complex nose melds lemon, lime, apple, flowers, powdered stone and sexy fresh herbs. Silky on entry, then quite firm in the middle, with the crushed stone element initially dominating underlying fruit. With aeration, this showed a richer texture and emerging citrus fruit and floral qualities. There’s a slightly saline quality here and a firm spine but the wine avoids coming off as hard or rough. Still, its classically dry finish, with flavors of pineapple and crushed stone, give it a youthful austerity. This was bottled in the spring of 2009, and I would not be surprised if it went into a shell in the next 6 to 12 months.
Erick brought: 1986 Maison Leroy Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. BH 92. An intense green fruit nose trimmed in an almost pungent minerality and background hints of botrytis-tinged honey notes combines with notably dense flavors of considerable depth and much better delineation than the average ’86 displays today. There is fine length and while this is at it’s peak, it should hold here for a number of years to come. (Drink between 2004-2004)
Erick brought: 1996 Maison Leroy Meursault Les Narvaux. BH 88. Elegant, pure and nicely complex but not nearly as dense or concentrated as the d’Auvenay version yet despite the absence of real concentration, this is really quite lovely with outstanding balance and real finesse. The nose is beginning to display distinct secondary characteristics and I would be drinking up in earnest over the next 2 to 4 years as the Narvaux will begin to decline because there just isn’t the requisite mid-palate density to stay at this level much longer. Multiple notes since release. (Drink between 2007-2007)
From my cellar: 1969 Remoissenet Père et Fils Grands-Echezeaux. BH 88. Bricked through to the center. There is plenty of sous-bois present on the distinctly earthy but agreeably spice tertiary nose. The delicious and vibrant middle weight flavors possess reasonably good complexity though the lean finish is slightly drying. This is on the fragile side and assuming that this bottle was indeed representative, my sense is that the wine is beginning to crack up. As such, I would suggest drinking up soon.
Erick brought: 1990 Domaine Leroy Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots. BH 93. This has always struck me as a curious effort that is somewhat cab-like because the ’90 Boudots is a very ripe effort with notes of secondary fruit, spice, earth and a distinct gaminess that continues onto the meaty and impressively rich if slightly rustic big-bodied and robust flavors that culminate in a long finish where the only nit is a hint of warmth. This isn’t really my style of red Bugundy but there can be no question that this is a very high quality effort that is still drinking beautifully and will be 25 years from now and perhaps even longer. Whether one likes the style is a question for each person to consider but as I say, the quality is indubitably here.
1993 Dominique Laurent Clos Vougeot. BH 87. In contrast to the typical ’93 at this point in the vintage’s evolution, this is remarkably open and expressive though I was surprised to find the intial hints of sous bois, something that frankly is highly unusual in such a (relatively) young wine. Otherwise, this is pretty and certainly delicious but it doesn’t have the concentration that one should have at this level and all the more so given the natural concentration of the vintage. In short, this is barely acceptable for a grand cru.
1970 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Ygay Reserva. 92 points. Still vibrant and dark red, a little VA but not off putting, surprisingly strong fruit and good acidity with a little dill on the finish. Plenty of life left in this one.
2001 Château Mouton Rothschild. VM 91+. Good full ruby. High-pitched aromas of blackberry, mint and minerals. Juicy but quite tightly wound today; much more austere than the comparatively pliant Clerc-Milon-not to mention firmer and less fleshy than it appeared from barrel a year ago. Juicy acidity contributes to the impression of structure. Unlike most 2001s, this seems already to have gone into a shell. This penetrating, mostly cabernet sauvignon (86%) Mouton will need at least a decade of bottle aging.
Liz brought: 1961 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg. 95 points. Golden yellow. In the nose, orange juice and peel, elderflower. Very fresh despite notes of very ripe fruit (quince, apricot jam). Very transparent in its aromatics. On the palate very pleasant with nice minerality, mild acidity, a voluminous body. Notes of mokka in the finish. Unbelievable, but true: this wine doesn’t seem to have reached its summit.
From my cellar: 1946 Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Convento Selección. 100 points. So good I just giggle every sip. This is a remarkable dessert wine and I’m grateful to Steve for sharing it not once but twice with me. Ethereal integrated sweetness, lightness, Christmas spices, and magic.
Chef Vartan on the left.
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.
Tonight’s meal was my best yet at 71Above (and they were all good). Really tuned up even further — plus the wines (and company) were amazing.
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!