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Week in Reviews Part II: Five-Starring Sona, Raising the Bar at Wine Bistro

We're too often stuck in our little online bubble that we forget about the printed word on real paper. So for a second round of reviews this week, we take to the April pages of Los Angeles magazine and Angeleno, where Patrick Kuh and Brad A. Johnson wax poetic on restaurants they love or hate. Consider this a James Beard Foundation nominee showdown.

(2) ANGELENO: Brad Johnson boldly proclaims, loud and clear, that Sona is a five-star restaurant. Johnson scores out of five stars, five being "world class." To compare, the LA Times scores out of four stars, and S. Irene Virbila only gave Sona two-and-a-half in Feb. 2006. Chef and owner David Myers continues to wow Johnson, bite by bite:

On previous visits, I have enjoyed marinated clams with poached, saffron-scented potatoes. I've been captivated by the slippery texture of caramel-braised salmon belly that was juxtaposed with Chinese sausage. If I concentrate, I can still savor an incredible piece of Wagyu beef from Japan. I've eaten ice cream as appetizer and squash brown butter for dessert—and, against my initial instincts, loved every bite. One night, Myers slow-cooked an entire suckling pig from a place called Devil's Gulch, and I'm pretty sure everyone in the restaurant got a taste.
While beautifully written, Johnson's review is laced with his previous four-star review from 2003. We just need to know now. We also enjoy this month's Top 10 Hot Spots list, especially Johnson's take on Table 8: "Ok, our offical verdict is in: The new cowboy Goth decor doesn't work." Agreed. [Angeleno]

(1) LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE: Patrick Kuh goes to a restaurant older than most of our readers. Studio City's Wine Bistro opened in 1978, but Peter Roelant---who worked at L'Orangerie in its 80's heyday, then ran Four Oaks in Beverly Glen for 16 years before it closed last year---recently took over the kitchen. He's turning things around, but Kuh believes the resto still has a way to go "before it can become the eagerly given tip between friends." A plate of sand dabs, however, sends him to a wistful state:

To taste Roelant’s version—in which the almonds, just browned, redolent of good butter, and cut with a spritz of lemon, are sent cascading over the crisp, thin fish—has been a homecoming of sorts for me, a reminder of those places whose menu pages are written in purple ink and whose walls are lined with the worn wood slots designed for customers to keep their napkins between meals. I feel I’m in a bistro where matters are in the right order. First comes the display of quiet skill, then the state of mind.
You can actually find Kuh's review on the meager Los Angeles magazine website. Other new reviews this month include DuPar's, Tengu Santa Monica, Tasca Wine Bar, and Lasher's. [LA Mag]

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