The first responsibility of any great restaurant is to keep you in the bubble, the soft-serve cocoon of illusion where you forget the world exists for anything but your pleasure. And the newly redesigned Spago, from the moment you toss your keys to the valet to the moment you stagger back out again, gives good bubble.
But Spago is not a Japanese restaurant. Nor, really, is it a modernist restaurant. Modernist restaurants are built around their tasting menus. The new Spago has actually de-emphasized its tasting menu in favor of an Italian-style menu structure ... And while the wild king salmon may be grilled over Japanese bincho charcoal, flavored with yuzu kosho and served with those maitake mushrooms, it is still essentially a French presentation, ideally enjoyed with a glass of Austrian wine. You are still at Spago.A heavy Asian influence and modernist techniques appear on Spago's new menu, but the restaurant is able to retain its original personality through it all. [LAT]
[Photo: Elizabeth Daniels]
B-Rod swoons over Cortez's simple plates: "And that's how it goes at Cortez: A base ingredient, selected for its freshness and high quality, is paired with one or two other components for an outcome that's simple and often startlingly good." [LAW]