Restaurant: 71Above [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: March 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. Today the location plays host to a special James Beard Foundation luncheon in conjunction with the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. It features dishes both by 71Above chef Vartan Abgaryan and a number of guest chefs.
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!
We have the entire place today for this large luncheon.
On the left is Sommelier Catherine Morel who organized the gigantic wine efforts.
NV Duval-Leroy Champagne Brut. BH 90. This is also distinctly cool and restrained with lovely nuances of green apple, citrus peel, tangerine, white flowers and ample yeast character. There is a relatively finely beaded mousse supporting the delicious and nicely intense middle weight flavors that terminate in a reasonably complex and lingering finish where the yeast component telegraphed by the nose is more pronounced. I like the crispness and delivery though I would be inclined to hold this for a few years in the hopes that more depth and texture will develop. To be sure, this is perfectly good the way that it is but it lacks the overall complexity needed to be at the next level.
Oyster with Chili Lime Mignonette. Bright and delicious, if a touch hard to eat (neatly) standing around.
Foie Tart with Fennel Meringue. These sweet and rich puppies were so amazing I had about half a dozen!
We move on over to the tables and take our seats.
Bread and delicious French butter.
2012 La Chablisienne Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. BH 93. Out of the entire range of 2012s this is the wine that offers the clearest expression in terms of Chablis character as it would be almost impossible to miss this one. The purity and elegance of the green apple, lemon rind and essence of white flowers is remarkable and added to this are nuances of shellfish, saltwater and quinine. There is a lovely intensity to the delicious and overtly mineral-driven big-bodied flavors that offer excellent length and fine depth. Impressive and built to age.
agavin: cheap but good grand cru Chablis
Sweet Potato with Tahini, Snap Peas, Mustard and Harissa Vinaigrette. Guest Chef Jessica Largey. A nice salad. The Tahini dressing was very tahini (aka sesame and lemon juice). Made it feel very Middle Eastern.
2012 Domaine Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières Cuvée des Pierre. BH 91-94. Strong reduction flattens the underlying fruit to the point that it is impossible to read. This is a big wine with imposing size, weight and muscle where the underlying minerality adds lift to the explosive flavors and finish that are also supported by a citrus-inflected acid spine on the bone dry and hugely persistent finish. This is almost painfully intense yet it remains harmonious and well-balanced. This too is very much recommended provided that you have the patience to cellar it for at least 5 years as it’s unlikely to drink well before that.
Veal Lasagna with Parmesan Mousse, Bone Marrow Vinaigrette and Black Truffle. Guest Chef Timothy Hollingsworth. The sauce and the truffles were great. The lasagna itself was very dense, more a pile of pasta.
2007 Henri Boillot Chambertin. VM 93-96. Deep, bright, saturated ruby. Soil-driven aromas of black fruits and licorice. Brooding and pure, with brisk acidity giving a medicinal reserve to the sweet flavors of blueberry, licorice and flinty minerality. There’s a coolness and suavity here that screams out Chambertin. Penetrating, classy wine with a palate-saturating bitter chocolate finish hinting at great complexity to come. The tannins are perfectly integrated.
2004 Domaine Trapet (Jean et Jean-Louis) Chambertin. BH 92. Deeply pitched aromas of warm earth, spice, game, smoke, crushed herb and pure dark berry fruit aromas perfectly complement the powerfully built yet refined flavors that are taut, muscular and focused. There is no excess here as it seems as though everything is in perfect harmony. No, it isn’t quite as elegant as the Latricières but it compensates with more concentration, depth and length. This is absolutely a top tier 2004.
agavin: From Mag. The meany greenies were blowing off, so not too bad for a 2004.
Spring Lamb: Rack, loin, fritter, crispy terrine, raisin, olive, red walnut. Very nice rare hunk of lamb. I actually really liked the loin. This was prepared by 71Above chef Vartan Abgaryan.
2010 Guy Breton Régnié. VM 91. Bright ruby-red. Highly expressive, floral bouquet evokes violet, lavender, red berries and spicecake, with a smoky overtone. Bright and racy on the palate, offering sweet raspberry and cherry flavors and notes of candied flowers and peppery spice. Finishes with very good energy and mineral cut, leaving a floral note behind.
Bittersweet Chocolate with Raspberry, Thyme and Red Wine. Fabulous dessert by pastry chef Gregory Baumgartner.
The crew of chefs and Emil line up for brief speeches.
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.
Today the crew did a bang up job on this large scale lunch. This is a hard format, basically a banquet, yet food quality was spot on. Wines were nice too, although not at the level (for Burgundy) I would pick myself.