This week, Jonathan Gold rises to the top of the US Bank building to review 71Above, the restaurant by chef Vartan Abgaryan. The Times critic begins largely distracted by the restaurant’s jaw-dropping view:
Unless you have remarkable powers of concentration, you will notice none of this. Because the key fact of 71Above is neither Abgaryan’s lush cooking nor the sprawling list of Burgundies, the suave caramel custard nor the quirky cocktails named after Los Angeles neighborhoods. You are there for the restaurant’s location, 950 feet above downtown Los Angeles, a circular dining room reaching nearly all the way around the building. [LAT]
While the $70 prix fixe may be “more than you want to pay for a meal that doesn’t coincide with a birthday or an anniversary divisible by five,” it actually “ends up costing about the same as it does at most other high-end restaurants in town.” Furthermore, Abgaryan’s elaborate cooking style assures you get what you pay for, albeit sometimes at fault:
The puréed sunchoke soup is poured over a construction of trout roe and dill. Slivers of raw hamachi are arranged into a sort of soy-slicked Noguchi sculpture. Beautifully poached oysters are garnished with a bit of sea urchin, a dab of caviar and a drizzle of Champagne butter — the flavors may blur into one another, and there always seems to be one ingredient too many, but there is no question that you are getting what you paid for. A dish of potato, chorizo and egg may sound like the burrito you had for breakfast last week, but the textural contrast between the soft egg and crunchy potato is lovely, and the suave spicing of the chorizo is closer to Bel-Air than to Boyle Heights. [LAT]
The Golderster concludes the review praising the vegetable dishes and recommending the parsnip with duck fat, cauliflower with vadouvan, suckling pig, and caramel custard.