Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: April 23, 2019
Cuisine: New American
Rating: Awesome in all ways
71Above is one of my favorite LA restaurants and I’ve been many times. In fact there are 8 previous write ups! Today the location plays host to a special DRC dinner that owner Emil organized with a special menu. Chef Vartan Abgaryan has moved on to his own new place, Yours Truly, and 71Above is now seamlessly helmed by his disciple, Chef Javier Lopez.
Besides being located on the 71st floor (950 feet up!) of the US Bank building, being the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi, it’s owned and operated by my friend Emil Eyvazoff!
Gorgeous build out.
Look at the crazy view and the crazy fog on this weird spring night.
We set up shop for this evening in the private room.
Just a few stems.
The special menu.
NV Taittinger Prelude. VM 91. (a 50/50 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir; L2068TD00100): Light, bright gold. Mineral-accented lemon and lime pith on the nose, with complicating notes of honeysuckle and pear skin. Dry and precise, offering vibrant citrus fruit and fresh fig flavors and showing strong mineral spine. Finishes bright and long, with lingering floral notes and a touch of ginger.
2002 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. BH 97. There is a distinctly phenolic character to the secondary-tinged yet super-fresh nose reflects notes of bread, yeast, pear, baked apple, spice and a hint of citrus. The bold and full-bodied flavors possess superb complexity while being underpinned by a notably fine but dense mousse, all wrapped in a gorgeously persistent finish. This is a seriously impressive effort and one of the best of the Krug Brut vintage series released in many years. Note that while this should continue to age effortlessly, it could certainly be enjoyed now.
Another amuse of Oyster, poached uni, caviar, tarragon, and champagne. Delicious.
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet. BH 93. More noticeable wood spice than in the prior wine combines with wonderfully pure green fruit and white pear aromas underscored by intensely stony notes, leading to ripe, chiseled, vibrant, wonderfully precise flavors that offer excellent definition. This really coats the palate and the finish lingers for several minutes. I like the punch here yet the intensity is delivered in an ultra refined, classy and pure style.
2008 Paul Pernot et ses Fils Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. BH 94. Here too the nose speaks of honeysuckle, citrus and lightly spiced pear aromas that serve as an elegant introduction to the pure, cool and understated middle weight flavors that possess outstanding depth of material and stunning length. This is a hugely long and quite serious yet impeccably well-balanced Bienvenues.
2014 Louis Jadot Bâtard-Montrachet. BH 94. There is enough wood to notice surround the beautifully complex array of pear, white peach, lilac, acacia blossom and anise-suffused aromas. As is usually the case this is a broad-shouldered and concentrated effort with its imposingly scaled flavors that brim with palate coating dry extract before concluding in a youthfully austere and almost painfully intense finale. This is an impressive effort that is built to reward extended cellaring and indeed one that will need at least 6 to 8 years before it will display at least some of its full potential.
Hamachi Crudo. Kumquat, coconut, lime, lemongrass, salsa seca, ginger, cilantro.
1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux. BH 91. Intense, ripe and slightly roasted black fruit nose with developing complexity that leads to rich, full-bodied, rounded, sweet flavors underpinned by big tannins and the wine finishes with grand cru quality length. This is quite big and certainly dramatic but for all its richness and power, it’s not an elegant wine per se. All of that said, it’s still a relatively youthful wine and could be drunk now with pleasure or held for a few more years to fully round out the finish. Multiple and consistent notes.
1996 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux. BH 91. The Domaine de la Romanée-Conti fashioned outstanding ’96s and while this will not challenge the dominance of its more esteemed stable mates, it is clearly a lovely effort. The expressive nose displays lovely spice and violet aromas that offer more elegance and finesse than usual and lead to rich, sweet and moderately structured flavors supported by bright but not aggressive acidity and excellent finishing persistence. I quite like the ’96 Ech and while it can finally be approached now with pleasure it should be capable of holding at this level for years to come. Multiple, and consistent, notes.
Avocado and steak tartare. Avocado with citrus, seaweed, thai basil, puffed rice, black radish, sesame, lime oil. Wagyu sirloin tartare. Mustard, piquillo, marcona almond, caper, yolk, crostini. Very nice. The steak paired better with the reds, the avocado with the lingering whites.
2014 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux. BH 94. A wonderfully complex nose features a broad array of spice elements with those of plum, violet, sandalwood and Asian-style tea that are also trimmed in soft wood nuances. There is good punch to the refined, cool and pure medium-bodied flavors that possess better concentration on the balanced, persistent and youthfully austere finale where the only nit is a very subtle hint of warmth. Of all of the wines in the Domaine’s portfolio, in my view the Ech is the most improved over the last 10 years and it shows as the 2014 is bigger and more powerful than usual.
2014 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echezeaux. BH 95. Here the expressive nose is even spicier and more floral with its lovely array of rose petal, lilac and lavender scents adding elegance to the mostly dark pinot and earth aromas that are also trimmed in a bit of wood but in this case it is even more subtle. As is virtually always the case this is bigger, richer, more powerful and more muscular with excellent volume to the rich and mouth coating flavors that deliver superb length on the chiseled, robust and hugely long finale. Patience will definitely be required.
2014 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Corton Domaine Prince Florent de Merode. BH 93. A notably floral nose consists of ripe plum, spice and plenty of earth while being trimmed in all-but-invisible oak. There is good power and muscle to the generously proportioned and notably rich big-bodied flavors that culminate in a robust finish that offers fine depth and length. This is not as concentrated as the best here but it’s clear that the vineyard work continues to push the quality level forward each year.
Heritage Pork. Loin, fritter, mustard seed, pork jus. Great pork.
1990 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes. BH 89. As long time readers know, I have never thought very highly of this wine and I have had on the order of 3 cases of it without ever finding one that I thought was very good, let alone great. This would include a bottle that was air expressed directly from the domaine so my objections have nothing to do with storage, provenance or shipping. However, the bottle in this tasting displayed the best fruit/acid/tannin balance of any ’90 VV that I’ve yet had and while I would stop well short of according it the accolades that it once received in abundance, it didn’t not display the green finishing tannins and overtly advanced aromas that its predecessors have. In short, a wine of moderate promise and while by no means great, at least acceptable in the context of the extremely high standards of this wine and this vintage.
1993 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares. BH 91. The ’93 Bonnes Mares is a big and burly wine with an expressive, intense nose revealing some aged notes to accompany the black fruit followed by muscular, concentrated, beautifully detailed flavors of excellent intensity first class length. While this is clearly an impressive wine of real quality, there is a rustic side to this wine that I’m not entirely convinced is ever going to completely disappear. Time will tell but it’s clear for the present that this is quite structured and will require at least another 7 or 8 years of cellar time, perhaps more but it should be worth the wait. Consistent notes since release.
From my cellar: 1996 Louis Jadot Bonnes Mares. VM 94+. Medium-deep red-ruby, with a hint of development at the rim. Deep, smoky aromas of espresso, bitter chocolate, meat and licorice, plus a floral topnote. Then penetrating, brisk and tightly wound, with terrific verve and structure. Boasts superb vivacity but comes across as surprisingly supple owing to its excellent extract. Finishes firmly tannic, with late hints of woodsmoke and chocolate. “The grapes ripened on photosynthesis during a clear, cold September, retaining strong acidity. The cool weather allowed for a natural cold maceration prior to the fermentation.”
Wagyu. Japanese A5 8+ Grade Ribeye, broccolini, black garlic, peanut, grilled onion jus. This beef was incredible!
1989 Château d’Yquem. VM 97. Laid-back, extremely young aromas of honey, creme caramel, smoke and earth; essence of semillon. Rich, large-scaled and powerful; really expands in the mouth. Lovely harmonious acidity and bright notes of orange peel and minerals give this very youthful wine great clarity of flavor. Classy and impeccably balanced. The subtle, oak-spicy, nutty finish goes on and on. Conveys an almost saline impression of extract. This should approach peak drinkability within the next eight to ten years and last for decades.
Domestic cheeses and season accompaniments. Always love some good cheese.
Gelato made by me:
Valrhona Dark Sorbetto – Doing the dariy free thing — a super intense Valrhona 63% Chocolate plus 100% cocoa plus cocoa mass — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — the best no milk straight chocolate I’ve yet made — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #chocolate #cocoa #sorbetto
Mango Passionfruit Sorbetto – 95% mango, 5% passionfruit, plus a little lemon, just throws a bit of acidity into the too-sweet mango to brighten it up — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #mango #passionfruit
Toasted Almond Coconut Sorbetto – when I can’t use milk this Thai coconut milk base with toasted almonds from Sicily is pretty darn awesome — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #coconut #almond #CoconutMilk #ToastedAlmond #sicily
Chef Javier Lopez and the rest of the kitchen crew.
Sommelier Catherine Morel on the right did an impeccable job.
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 hear 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’s dinner excelled on all counts. Service, food, company, and of course the wines. Sure the 2014’s were a “tad” young, but they still showed! We learned that they should be opened and decanted at least 12 hours ahead of time.