Double date night! What a perfect time for dinner at Opus, where I've been woefully delinquent in visiting. It's close to grandparents' house for the baby drop-off -- perfect. (In my excitement for a night out I forgot my camera.)
I've always rooted for whatever restaurant takes on this daunting retail frontage. The vaguely Asian "zen" (I know, groan) style decor meets dark steakhouse/cigar bar/urbane lounge vibe (think dark woods, leather, slick glass partitions) is a smart update on this huge space in the Deco landmark, where I'm sorta bummed to not be joining Lauren for the Patty Griffin show tonight. The design tries to find some intersection of sensibilities so that K-town locals, Hollywood big shots, Hancock Park matrons, and concert-going kids will experience some level of both comfort and glamour.
In addition to the massive dining room with soaring ceilings and the deep bar located at the entrance, Opus offers a semi-outdoor smoking lounge and a private dining room. That sure is an awful lot of space to fill, so it's no wonder several businesses have cycled through here. I'm curious how many seats need to be occupied for Opus to be profitable. But compared to its various neighbors over the years, Denny's never seems to have a problem.
The fabled $30 "spontaneous" tasting menu bargain didn't disappoint. That being said, nothing was a complete knockout either. Including amuse bouche and another small interlude we were given five courses of varying sizes -- a generous number of items, even if the portions weren't very filling in the aggregate. Asparagus soup with a lobster dumpling had a smooth nutty bite and got our mood up, as did the additional complementary glasses of prosecco for us gals who didn't order the wine pairings. But I found prosecco to be an odd choice for an actual pairing, since it's an aperitif, not a "serious" wine to which foods are carefully matched. We also weren't clear about what dish it was supposed to accompany.
Chef Centeno next tried to take on la nueva cocina with a deconstructed breakfast thing: a poached egg and bacon concoction, mixed with honey and Cream of Wheat, came coddled in the shell. Though extremely creative, this course wasn't entirely successful.
The intriguing Sangiovese/merlot from the Western Cape of South Africa took care of the early prosecco problem. It was a great partner to the braised veal cheeks and sweetbreads with winter vegetables and huckleberry reduction. I didn't think the beets and string beans belonged on that plate. But nothing like a great glass of a soft, well-rounded wine to remind me of my foolish, often unfounded wine prejudices.
Pound cake with delicate pineapple and banana ice cream gave the meal a subtle finish. And to sweeten things a little, our excellent waiter poured a round of lightly effervescent moscato d'Asti all around, also to make up for his having forgotten the octopus side dish we had ordered in addition to the tasting menus.
Dinner left little else in need of compensation, except for one not-so-minor-thing: I ate a tub of curried chicken salad when I got home at midnight. With this appetite of mine, I better be ordering the six course tasting menu instead.
3760 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles 90010