Beginning tonight, one of LA’s most impressive new fine dining restaurants will open for the first time. Somni, meaning “dream” in Catalan, certainly feels like one for world-traveling gourmands and well-heeled patrons in Los Angeles.
Going inside the former Saam, a highly rated restaurant-within-a-restaurant at the SLS Beverly Hills, this new experience emulates the ones by chef José Andrés across his restaurant empire like minibar in D.C. and é in Vegas. Former Saam chef Aitor Zabala will oversee the menu, priced at $235 per person outside of wine or non-alcoholic pairings (but including the valet fee). It’s one of the most expensive new affairs in town, just short of Vespertine’s $250 tasting (and well short of many high-end omakases around town).
Still, the 25-course dinner is as intimate as they come, with just 10 seats made of a single slab of oak encircling a monastic-looking preparation area. Toward the far wall, a fish tank holds live seafood while one of LA’s most expensive stoves sits in the kitchen. Rumor is the stove itself cost in the millions of dollars, which means Zabala and Andrés aren’t kidding around here.
According to Zabala, “Somni is our American dream — our opportunity to add to the legacy and culture of Los Angeles.” And certainly this space adds up to that, with its sleek wood panels, clean white marble touches, and colorful bull heads meant to recall the legendary El Bulli in Spain. It’s clear that with this kind of investment and dedication, Somni’s looking for international recognition — and glory — for LA’s emergence in the world of fine dining. Whether they can accomplish that remains to be seen, but clearly the stakes and ambition are high.
Zabala and Andrés haven’t released too many details of the courses yet, but Somni’s Instagram account reveals delicately plated modernist dishes that look like art pieces as much as they do food. Somni opens tonight and takes reservations on Tock. There are two seatings nightly, one at 6 p.m. and another at 8:30 p.m., with three wine pairings ranging from $175 and up to $500 per person. The juice pairing costs $75 a person.