Los Angeles: 3 Nights, 24 Dishes

Few cities can compete with New York when it comes to dining, but LA is definitely a worthy contender. Last weekend I spent three nights in the City of Angels with three of my favorite ladies, my favorite faux-cousin and my favorite former boss. Spending time with my friends made the two red-eyes in four nights well worth it — and so did all the food we ate! In three nights, I tried 24 dishes. (And that was just dinner — there was also brunch, ice cream, poolside cocktails, lunch salads and many glasses of wine.)

On night number one I ate at Red Medecine, night number two at Ink and night number three at Son of a Gun.  Each restaurant’s menu consisted of seasonal dishes for sharing, and share we did. From Sweatbreads to Lobster Rolls to getting some of the last legal Foie Gras in CA (I don’t even like Foie Gras but we couldn’t resist ordering it while we still had the chance, a mere week before it was illegal to buy), we really had it all. The precise intention, superior caliber and distinct rarity of each ingredient made every single dish nothing short of an artistic masterpiece.  Every course was spectacular in its own right, but my standouts include the Akaushi Beef from Red Medecine; the Sugar Snap Peas, Octopus and Poutine from Ink; and the Linguine and Clams from Son of a Gun.

Here’s the list of 24, from three of the best restaurants in Los Angeles:

Red Medecine 

SNAP PEAS / soymilk custard, verbena,
mint coconut water

AMBERJACK / red seaweed, buttermilk, lotus root,
tapioca, succulents

DUNGENESS CRAB / passion fruit, brown butter,
black garlic, vietnamese crepe, hearts of palm

SWEETBREADS / prune, leeks, mustard, chicory,
smoked bone marrow

AKAUSHI BEEF / pistachio, lettuce stems, celery,
fermented tea

BRUSSELS SPROUTS / caramelized shallots, fish sauce,
vermouth

Snap Peas with soymilk custard, verbena, mint coconut water

Amberjack with red seaweed, buttermilk, lotus root, tapioca, succulents

Ink

beau soleil oysters, oyster leaf, mignonette ice

burrata, trout roe, apricot, persian saffron

sugar snap peas, a mojo of itself, coffee, cardamom, coconut

shishito peppers, almond-bonito sand, tofu mustard

hamachi, dashi sponge, soy-yuzu, radish, rice cracker

foie gras, waffle, smoked maple, hot sauce

brussels sprouts, pig ears, lardo, apple

soft shell crab, tarragon mayo, caper, potato

octopus, ink. shells, young fennel, pimenton

halibut, embers of zucchini and potato, tomato dashi

poutine, chickpea fries, yogurt curds, lamb neck gravy

wagyu beef, carrots, tendon, horseradish tofu

apple, caramel, walnut,burnt wood ice cream

Beau Soleil Oysters, oyster leaf, mignonette ice

Sugar Snap Peas, a mojo of itself, coffee, cardamom, coconut

Shishito Peppers, almond-bonito sand, tofu mustard

Hamachi, dashi sponge, soy-yuzu, radish, rice cracker

Foie Gras, waffle, smoked maple, hot sauce

Soft Shell Crab, tarragon mayo, caper, potato

Octopus, ink. shells, young fennel, pimenton

Son of a Gun

lobster roll, celery, lemon aioli

puntarelle, fava, artichoke, pecorino, lemon

kennebec french fries, malt vinegar aioli

linguine and clams, uni aglio-olio, chili, breadcrumbs

frozen lime yogurt, graham crumble, toasted meringue


I do have to admit that after so many small plates, meant to share, that came out as they were ready; after too many upgrades on street food and too many deconstructed desserts, I was really ready for a slice of pizza. For my next trip to LA, I’m going to skip the multi-mini-course feasts and keep it simple. I’m going to look for some of the other food the city does best, like tacos, sushi and frozen yogurt — each meal on its own, one at a time, and preferably not to share. That said, there’s little better, in my opinion, than sharing food with friends, no matter how precious or plebeian. So would I do it all again? Yes!

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