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LA Times Critic Calls Auburn the ‘Most Exhilarating’ Restaurant This Year

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Plus, some of the best overall eats of 2019

Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

After a few weeks of playing at the edges of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times co-critic Bill Addison is back to the heart of the city, landing smack-dab at Melrose and Highland to review Eric Bost’s glossy new upscale restaurant Auburn. He comes away mightily impressed.

Auburn is the first solo restaurant from Bost, who spent a lifetime working in fine dining kitchens in Europe and running the kitchen at Republique down the street. The slick, neo-Nordic restaurant sits on hallowed ground once occupied by other famous fine dining restaurants like Citrus and Hatfield’s, and works a multi-course tasting menu designed to let diners choose their own adventure. And what a ride it is, says Addison:

In its aesthetics, the tone of service and the left-brain-right-brain merger in the cooking, Auburn heralds how special-occasion experiences can still dazzle as we speed toward the 2020s. Bost is pulling off some uncanny balancing acts by freshly squaring casualness with formality, and by creating dishes, served in a mix-and-match degustation format, that equally rouse emotions and the intellect.

Here everything clicks, from the food to the drink pairings to the show of the open kitchen inside.

Servers know how to establish a rhythm to the meal without constantly interrupting conversation. Sommelier Rick Arline and dining room manager Roderick Daniels are aces with the wine list, which has range without being unwieldy.

Some dishes carry an “aloof beauty,” others are “pointedly conceptual;” only the ribeye falls flat (and not on preparation or cooking, but just because it doesn’t wow like other dishes), says Addison. It’s “the menu’s safest bore,” he notes, adding: “I’d much rather end the savory portion of the meal with warmed, runny, just-funky-enough Epoisses spooned over soft sunchokes.” Sounds like a plan.

Tacos from Sonoratown.
Matthew Kang

Meanwhile, co-critic Patricia Escárcega spent the shortened holiday week recapping some of her favorite meals so far this year. They include Teddy’s Red Tacos, Vartan Abgaryan’s “frequently clever and delicious” food at Yours Truly, and Sonoratown, with its “marvelous flour tortillas.”