Location: 6703 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 486-6703
Date: May 29, 2019
Cuisine: Modern California
Rating: Really good fine dining
Auburn is a much anticipated recent opening in LA’s often bankrupt fine dining space.
It occupies the space formerly belonging to the legendary Citrus, then Alex, then Hatfields (all of which I enjoyed).
They’ve partially roofed over, divided and modernized the space, removing the 80s-90s LA garden feel (which I kind of liked, but it’s certainly still very attractive).
The kitchen is large, open, and bustling!
Chef Eric Bost’s (République, Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse) debut restaurant auburn juxtaposes the higher echelon of traditional fine dining with an emphasis on guest exploration and conviviality while paying homage to Los Angeles’ uninhibited culinary identity in a space designed with honest materials by local makers.
Chef Eric Bost grew up in North Carolina, running around his grandparents’ restaurants at an early age. Upon graduation from business school, he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America. After an externship at Le Cirque in NYC, Bost traveled across Europe, where he met his future wife, Elodie, and made Paris his home. During their time in France, Bost worked his way through some of the world’s best restaurants, including Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée and Les Ambassadeurs at the Hôtel de Crillon. His experience led him to be chosen by Guy Savoy for his opening team in Las Vegas in 2006. Two years later, the restaurant received 2 Michelin Stars with Bost as Chef de Cuisine. Within months, he was appointed Executive Chef and maintained their prestigious rating, garnering numerous accolades along the way. With the opening of Guy Savoy Singapore in 2010, Bost established a restaurant consistently voted amongst the best in the country. Most recently, Bost was the Executive Chef at Los Angeles’ beloved République. Now, after nearly a decade at the helm of revered restaurants, Bost ventures on his own with auburn.
Our table, right by the kitchen.
The big menu — but that wasn’t big enough for us.
So we asked for (and got) EVERYTHING!
Larry brought: 2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. BH 96. A wonderfully layered and nuanced nose features an intense yeasty character to the maturing fruit that displays interesting phenolic characters, in particular petrol, along with aromas of apple, pear and soft citrus hints. In contrast to the nascent maturity expressed by the nose the flavor profile is still tight and backward with a genuinely gorgeous texture, all wrapped in a strikingly persistent and highly complex finish. For my taste the 2000 Brut is at an inflection point as the nose does offer enough maturity so that it’s really quite pretty whereas the palate impression is substantially younger. As such it really just depends on how you prefer your Champagne because I suspect that the nose will be very mature by the time the still very youthful flavors attain their majority. For my taste preferences it would be no vinous crime to begin enjoying this now but be aware that this will age for a very long time. The best approach is probably to buy 6, or even 12, bottles and enjoy them over a longer period of time.
Erick brought: 1996 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé. VM 95. A head-turning beauty, the 1996 Dom Ruinart Rosé boasts gorgeous, resonant fruit to match its considerable structure and intensity. Although quite pretty and expressive, the 1996 has enough balance to develop gracefully in bottle for years to come.
Amuse of fried pork skins.
Amuse of pea tartlets (on dry black rice).
Amuse of iberico pork.
Really nice bread with:
Something (maybe basil) butter.
HIRAMASA CRUDO. green strawberries, citrus fern, celery. Really bright and zesty.
Walker brought: 2016 Caroline Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets. VM 93. Pale, bright straw-yellow. Musky, slightly reduced aromas of yellow peach, ripe pear, flinty minerality and smoky oak. Rather broad and glyceral on entry, then rich but lively in the middle palate, with pear, lime and wet stone flavors framed by harmonious acidity. The slowly building, tactile, classically dry finish dusts the palate and lingers impressively. Lovely concentration and savory minerality here.
2008 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. BH 96. This is a classic example of Corton-Charlemagne with its impressively layered floral, green fruit, lime and stone-infused nose that precedes citrusy, precise and powerful mineral-driven flavors that possess real muscle on the almost painfully intense and steely finish that delivers striking length. While it’s not quite as great as the Montrachet, it easily holds its own. A wine to own but note that only the patient will ever see it at its best as this is likely to evolve glacially.
Matthew brought: 2008 Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Meix Chavaux. BH 89. The first bottle displayed a distinct lactic note but a second bottle was extremely fresh with a hint of the exotic on the nose of citrus, stone and floral elements that complement well the minerally, supple and nicely textured flavors that possess good mid-palate flesh, all wrapped in a racy and well-delineated finish.
SANTA BARBARA BOX CRAB. tomato seeds & gelee, mashua leaf, seaweed-lemon granite. Awesome dish. It’s ice cold with very interesting texture and a bright flavor. Lovely.
HALIBUT. ramps, sunflower, green blueberries, artichoke, pistachio.
With the sauce.
WHITE ASPARAGUS. porcini mushrooms, trotters, spruce. Lovely.
CABBAGE. charred leeks, onion essence, alpine cheese. Really lovely for a vegetable!
From my cellar: 1996 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Clos Vougeot. JG 93+. I am a very big fan of the Clos Vougeot at Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat, which I find consistently to be one of the best examples in the Côte d’Or. The 1996 is a lovely example of the vintage that hails from the plus and buffered camp, with a lovely core of pure fruit fully carrying the structure of the vintage. The bouquet is deep, complex and quite sappy in its blend of plums, black cherries, woodsmoke, a touch of venison, coffee, a great base of soil and a stylish framing of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and impressively pure on the attack, with a fine core, ripe tannins and a long, focused and tangy finish. This is certainly approachable today, but in terms of complexity, it is still a tad on the primary side and a few more years of bottle age should be rewarded with even greater aromatic and flavor complexity. A lovely 1996.
Walker brought: 1966 Château Belgrave. 86 points. Tannins were high, lots of life still in the taste. Decanted well – not much sediment. A little harsh at first, but after taking a bit of dark chocolate (Brix) WOW what a difference. Smoothed out nicely and had a very good flavor. Earthy in bouqet and slight taste. Very nice experience overall.
SONOMA DUCK. cherries, mustard greens, amaranth, black garlic. Nice. Duck was hiding.
30 DAY DRY-AGED RIB EYE. smoked beets, vidalia onions, orach, oxtail broth. Great beef.
EPOISSE. sunchoke, seeds & flowers. The cheese comes later!
Here it is, all molten.
Then on top. Delicious.
YOGURT. Mushroom caramel. Nice dessert.
STRAWBERRY & MILK. Fermented plum. Absolutely stunning strawberries and cream dessert.
ROSE. Buckwheat honey. Interesting.
Finish of dried leaf.
Finish of strawberries and other dried sweet stuff.
Folk looking a bit satiated. This was a long dinner. It started at 8:00 and took a while to get going. I wasn’t in bed until close to 2am. Sigh.
Overall, food was fabulous Audacious for LA fine dining, very California in style, but with nearly every dish working out. Lots of dishes. Even the vegetables — especially the vegetables — were great. Bravo on the food. Hope the dishes change frequently.
Our wines were pretty much great.
The chef, his wife, and the whole crew were super friendly. The wine director was off tonight though, and although super accommodating with the wine, the remaining crew was overwhelmed by our style of dinner. They took way too long to get bottles open. Way too long to get them poured etc. The dinner was so long it worked out, but there were long stretches where a bunch of us had all empty glasses. That shouldn’t be at serious fine dining. Really, it’s best for groups like us to leave the opening and pouring to us — just bring us the glasses — but we had the vague feeling that would be stepping on their territory and the bottles weren’t on the table. So we waited.
But awesome evening — if long (it started so late).
For my catalog of Chinese restaurant reviews in China, click here.