Three of the four wines that I received as part of my "Spontaneous Wine Pairing." From left to right, a wonderful Spanish white, sake, and Champagne:
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the beautifully decorated Opus Restaurant (located on Wilshire Blvd. right next to the Wiltern in the old Atlas space) since the LA Times Food Section article regarding the best deals in town appeared on September 13th. The LA Times listed Opus' 3 course tasting menu for $30 and they also offer more courses at higher prices. But you definitely want to get the 3 course meal since you may end up with 4 or 5 courses at no extra charge.
What I love about the tasting menu is that it is "spontaneous" so you don't know which dishes you are going to receive: an LA Chowhounder wrote of her experience and even though we were there on the same night, her table received different items than our table did. Same goes for the wine pairings which makes sense since even the server probably doesn't know which dishes the customers are going to get until the chef decides.
Above, our first course which was an avocado creme dotted with fresh salmon roe and salted hijiki. This dish was simplicity at its best! The salty, crunchy salmon eggs went so well with the smooth, creamy blandness of the avocado. I was served the Champagne with this course.
Above, the hamachi sashimi with preserved lemon, sweet ebi with umbashi (salted plum) sauce, and the kodai skewer. My favorite item on this plate was the kodai skewer which was served with a white soy sauce sauce. You can taste the high level of skill that went into making this sauce: Chef Josef Centeno explained that he simmered the white soy sauce with bonito flakes, and normally when I have a broth or a sauce with bonito the taste of the dried fish really overwhelms, but not at Opus; this sauce was wonderful and obviously the bonito enhanced the sauce rather than dominated it. The sake was served with this course.
Above, the halibut cheek with artichoke (I think, I was getting pretty drunk at this point) and a tomato salsa. Like a grilled hamachi collar with a simple ponzu dipping sauce, I think that this dish would have been much better with just the cheek with the sauce. Would a customer be able to enjoy the minimalism of the cheek (which is such a delicacy!) or do they expect superfluous stuff on the plate? I drank the wonderful Spanish white with this course.
Above, the braised short rib served with sweetbread with a lobster bearnaise sauce. We received a glass of Australian red with this course and I was really drunk. I took a slice of the sweetbread and declared it the best roasted potato that I've ever had! (I then realize my mistake.) The bearnaise blew me away; most of the time I can just taste the tarragon but once again an item that can usually dominate the sauce ends up enhancing it. The short rib's braising sauce carmelized wonderfully, and did I taste a bit of coffee in that sauce?
For dessert we received a tapioca creme brulee served with a great cherry sauce; the tartness of the sauce really complimented the sweet tapioca.
So, for $45 I received a five course dinner with four wines which were poured quite heavily - practically full glasses. Another plus is that the server took our valet parking tickets so that our cars would be waiting for us when we exited the restaurant. That was such a great finishing touch to a fabulous meal.
3670 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010