Location: 633 W 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Date: January 13, 2023
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 10 previous write ups! Original Chef Vartan Abgaryan has moved on to his own new place, Yours Truly (which the pandemic has sadly done in), and 71Above is now seamlessly helmed by his disciple, Chef Javier Lopez. Today the location plays host to a special Sauvages lunch — the “infamous” January Champagne Lunch.
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 upstairs for the main event.
Look at the crazy view and the crazy fog on this weird spring night.
The pre-lunch crowd.
2018 Dönnhoff Roxheimer Höllenpfad Riesling im Mühlenberg Großes Gewächs. VM 92. This bottling from the stand of very old vines in Höllenpfad is full of juicy white peach fruit that I hadn’t expected from this site – but after all, we are talking about fruit-dominated vintage 2018. That’s not to say that certain elements conducive to austerity are absent: peach kernel piquancy, ash, crushed stone. On top of which, there is only one lone gram of residual sugar. The feel is full and firm, the minerally concentrated finish persistently pithy but juicy, and there is a welcome, saliva-inducing hint of salinity. “This is my new favorite child,” quipped Dönnhoff, “but it still has to finish school,” meaning not that these old vines need to be taught anything, but rather that he and Cornelius are still learning how to best channel this site’s and those vines’ potential. (For extensive background on this bottling and its site designation, consult my review of the inaugural vintage 2017 installment.) (Drink between 2020-2027)
2019 Domaine de Chantemerle Chablis La Chantemerle.
2014 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. BH 93. A spicy nose grudgingly liberates notes of citrus, floral, wet stone, oyster shell and iodine. There is a fine blend of power and finesse with outstanding punch, complexity and balance on the beautifully lingering and markedly dry finish. A classic Montée de Tonnerre of refinement and grace. (Drink starting 2022)
From my cellar: 2016 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly Cuvée Nicholas et Mathis. 92 points.
Crispy Chicken Bites. Mustard Emulsion, Dill. Crispy with just a touch of heat.
Caviar. Brioche, Dashi Gelee, Chives.
Our private room.
Today’s special menu.
1995 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Blanc des Millénaires. VM 95. The 1995 Brut Blanc des Millenaires shows just how compelling this often overlooked vintage can be. Layers of lemon, pastry spices, crushed rocks and savory herbs literally jump from the glass in this exquisite, perfumed, beautifully delineated Champagne. The 1995 shows lovely flavor complexity and nuance from its extended time in bottle, yet it also retains plenty of freshness, verve and acidity. This is a great showing from Charles Heidsieck. The 1995 was made before the tenure of the house’s current team, headed by CEO Cécile Bonnefond. It will be very interesting to see what develops at this historic property over the coming years. (Drink between 2013-2022)
1996 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. BH 97. A distinctly reticent but elegant nose with a purity of expression that is truly impressive to experience as it’s relatively high-toned and while the yeast comes up with air, it’s relatively muted at presence, combining with intense, precise and superbly detailed and complex flavors that culminate in an explosive and wonderfully long finish. This may very well rival the sublime ’90 in time even if it’s not quite as concentrated. This is still a baby so there is absolutely no rush whatsoever.
1998 Krug Champagne Clos du Mesnil. VM 97+. The 1998 Blanc de Blancs Clos du Mesnil has developed beautifully since I last tasted it. What a wine. For the first few years of its life, the 1998 seemed to lack personality, then, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, it blossomed. Today, the 1998 is rich, powerful and explosive, none of which was a few years ago. Layers of textured fruit, pastry, spices and crushed rocks jump from the glass. Still an infant, the 1998 promises to drink well for two to three decades. This is without question the best bottle of the 1998 I have ever tasted. Time to do another complete vertical? (Drink between 2013-2038)
1990 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. BH 95. This is a wine that I know extremely well from 750 ml and it’s one that is beginning to tire though I hasten to point out that it’s still enjoyable and just beginning to show signs of fatigue. However there are no such concerns with the same wine from magnum that remains magnificently fresh and while it’s clear that the aromas are mature, that’s not at all the same thing as describing the yeasty and baked apple suffused nose as tiring. There is equally good depth and vibrancy to the beautifully delineated flavors that are supported by a fine and firm mousse that allows the texture of a well-aged Dom to be easily appreciated. For my taste this has arrived at its peak though note well that it should easily be capable of effortlessly holding for years to come. (Drink starting 2015)
Hiramasa Crudo. Passion Fruit, Mandarin, Avocado, Jicama, Furikake, Cilantro, Habanero. Super fabulous crudo with a really zining sweet, spicy, savory, tangy marinate. 71 Above often has these really interesting complex flavors.
2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne. VM 98. I remember the first time I tasted the 2002 Dom Pérignon with then-Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy at Hautvillers. It was the upcoming release at the time. As was his custom, Geoffroy served the 2002 in a flight that included a number of previous releases. The bouquet was immediately stunning for its audacity. I had never tasted anything like it. Two thousand-two was a year marked by extreme ripeness in the Chardonnays, and that opulence has always been a big part of the wine’s profile. Today, what strikes me most about the 2002 is its timelessness. That youthful opulence remains, yet the 2002 is still vibrant, almost shocking in its freshness. Apricot, ripe peach, tangerine oil, butter and dried flowers all build towards a captivating crescendo of aromas and flavors that saturates the finish. Readers can look forward to another two decades of exceptional drinking. (Drink between 2022-2042)
2002 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare. JG 94. It is funny how often I drink the 2002 Rare from Piper-Heidsieck, given that I cannot get a sample out of this Grande Marque of the 2008 Rare or any other recent releases these days. In any case, the radio silence has not soured me on the beauty of the 2002 Rare, which remains one of the finest wines I have had the pleasure to taste from Piper. The bouquet is complex, deep and refined, offering up scents of apple, lemon, fresh-baked bread, chalky minerality and a nice touch of upper register smokiness. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a fine core, lovely balance and grip, elegant mousse and a long, focused and still vibrant finish. At age twenty this wine is cruising along beautifully at its plateau of peak maturity and still has plenty of life ahead of it. (Drink between 2022-2045)
2012 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. VM 96. Pol Roger”s flagship Brut Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is fabulous in 2012. Rich, open-knit and seductive, the 2012 will drink well right out of the gate, although it certainly has the pedigree to age well for decades. Lemon confit, chamomile, dried flowers, mint, spice and a kick of brioche infuse the 2012 with notable textural richness and resonance. Time in the glass brings out gorgeous aromatic lift to round things out. The 2012 is classy and polished all the way. (Drink between 2022-2037)
Crispy Octopus. Smoked Paprika, Morita Chili, Fingerling Potatoes, Celery, Lemon. Very nice crispy octopus.
2007 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare. 93 points.
2004 Paul Bara Champagne Grand Cru Annonciade. 92 points.
2003 Dom Pérignon Champagne. VM 95. The 2003 Dom Pérignon is in a gorgeous place right now. To be sure, it is a powerful Champagne that reflects the personality of a year marked by frost, that took out 70% of the Chardonnay, and then record heat and drought over the summer. The 2003 is just starting to head into its first plateau of maturity. Brioche, baked apple tart, lemon confit and marzipan build into the rich, layered finish. (Originally published in May 2021) (Drink between 2021-2038)
2006 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. VM 98. We started with the 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, which is every bit as racy and seductive as it has always been. It’s a great, great vintage for Comtes. (Drink between 2022-2046)
Lettuces, Market Vegetables, Labne, Cumin, Cilantro, Parmigiano-Reggiano. Very nice interesting cumin notes. Good texture.
Risotto Milanese. Saffron, Crispy Bone Marrow, Parmigiano-Reggiano. Perfect risotto, if very rich. I only had a bite as I was saving my blood sugar.
NV Jacques Selosse V.O. Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut. VM 95. The NV Extra-Brut V.O. (Version Originale) (2015) is super-expressive right out of the gate. It marries richness with translucence in stunning style. Dried flowers, mint, pine, spice, baked apple tart and brioche add gorgeous aromatic presence. In this release, the V.O. is so compelling. As always, V.O. is a blend of parcels on the upper slopes of Avize, from vintages 2015, 2014 and 2013 in this release. Disgorged: April 5, 2021. (Drink between 2023-2033)
2008 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare. 93 points.
2008 Dom Pérignon Champagne. VM 98. The 2008 Dom Pérignon is a huge, powerful Champagne and also clearly one of the wines of the vintage. This is one of the most reticent bottles I have tasted. So much so that I am thinking about holding off opening any more bottles! The 2008 has always offered a striking interplay of fruit and structure. Today, the richness of the fruit is especially evident. Readers who own the 2008 should be thrilled, but patience is a must. (Originally published in May 2021) (Drink between 2028-2058)
2008 Veuve Clicquot Champagne Brut La Grande Dame. 92 points.
Murray Cod. Little Neck Clams, Celadonian Prawn, Celery Root Chowder, Fennel. Very nice seafood flavors. The Cod was perfectly moist and flakey. Excellent seafood dish.
Mignardise. Choux au Craquelin, Pate de Fruits, Madeleines. My diet only allowed me a nibble of each, but the pastry cream Choux seemed awesome.
Pure and Concentrated Evil — Kentucky Mud Pie Gelato — Expresso Knob Creek Bourbon Custard Gelato base with layers of house-made Crushed Oreo Valrhona Fudge Ganache, and house-made Vanilla Coconut Cream Cheese Icing — The Plaid Mode of Gelati and includes a hefty Caffeine kick — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #coconut #valrhona #chocolate #ganache #expresso #bourbon #custard #oreos #icing
Orange Old Fashioned Sorbetto — Cold Pressed Orange Juice, Knob Creek Bourbon and Angostura Bitters! Topped with cherries — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Really tastes like an Old Fashioned –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #orange #tangerine #bourbon #KnobCreek #bitters #Angostura
The chefs and to the right, our awesome Somm, Katherine.
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 lunch excelled on all counts. Service, food, company, and of course the wines. Years ago I used to complain about too much Champagne… no longer!