We want to eat at a "Chef's Table" level restaurant
September 5, 2017 10:27 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I love watching "Chef's Table" on Netflix. I'd love to go to the restaurants that are featured on the show, but the only one near us (N/Naka in Los Angeles) is booked through the year. Can you recommend other restaurants of "Chef's Table" caliber in Orange County and Los Angeles?
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It kind of depends on what aspects of the Chef's Table experience you're going for (and I've neither been to N/Naka nor seen the episode about it). But both Providence and Melisse are great.
posted by primethyme at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Michelin Guide left LA in 2009, but a Google search says that these were the restaurants starred before then:

2 Stars: Melisse, Spago, Urasawa, Providence.
1 Star: Asanebo, Bastide, Cut, The Dining Room at the Langham, Gordon Ramsay at the London, Hatfield’s, Water Grill, Mori Sushi, Ortolan, Osteria Mozza, Patina, Sona, Sushi Zo, Trattoria Tre Venezle, Valentino, La Botte.

Eater.com did their own list.

I don't live in LA and haven't been to any of these places, so I can't vouch for the lists, but they're a starting point, at least.
posted by cnc at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2017

I was also coming to recommend some of Eater's lists or other articles. Definitely worth a shot.
posted by papayaninja at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2017

Vespertine has gotta be the choice of the moment down there? I'm not in LA, but that's my impression of the closest new analogue to San Pellegrino style dining down there.

Personally I'd go up to the bay area - probably to Manresa. Figure at ~1000/couple - its worth the cost of the weekend away.
posted by JPD at 10:57 AM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Like everyone else, I think Eater's list is great. I've been to a few on their list, my thoughts:

Providence: just spectacular, a perfect dinner. FWIW, I enjoyed Providence more than Le Bernardin, which has 3 Michelin stars and is sometimes called the best seafood restaurant in the US.

Spago: forgettable -- as in, I completely don't remember eating there at all.

Kiriko: wonderful, best sushi I've had in LA (but, I've not been to some of the other places on Eater's list). I had a smoked salmon collar that was one of the most perfect dishes I've ever eaten.

Animal: not really the more upscale experience some of the other places listed are, so if you're going for the fancy restaurant thing as much as the food, try something else. But, the food was meat-y and delightful. Get the poutine!
posted by jacobian at 11:02 AM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would just go and wait for a table or a cancellation, is this still A Thing? My second idea is to find an app or service that lets you snag cancellations, I believe OpenTable and Table8 are two such apps.

Old school style is you tip the Maitre d'. I would do no less than $100/$150. This might be gauche and not done any longer. I'm old.

Lunch reservations are easier to come by.

I have a hard time imagining it's impossible to get a table at Asanebo, and I'd like to give a special shout out to their monkfish liver. Soooooo GOOD.
posted by jbenben at 11:18 AM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

1 Star: Asanebo, Bastide, Cut, The Dining Room at the Langham, Gordon Ramsay at the London, Hatfield’s, Water Grill, Mori Sushi, Ortolan, Osteria Mozza, Patina, Sona, Sushi Zo, Trattoria Tre Venezle, Valentino, La Botte.

From this list, Tre Venezie closed and the Dining Room at the Langham was turned into a shitty steak house.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:52 AM on September 5, 2017

I disagree with jacobian re: Spago. I was expecting something kind of 90s and boring but was very, very happily surprised. Great meal.

Re: JPD's comment: I'd take Providence over Manresa any day of the week. I think Manresa is kind of silly with their weird marching servers and the portions in the tasting menu were way too big. I was stuffed by dessert. I've had the best service experience at Providence of any starred restaurant I've eaten at: the staff was attentive and careful but not the least bit stuffy.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:57 AM on September 5, 2017

Of the eater list, I'd also recommend Trois Mec and Ink, though I don't think either of those is at the level you want. I would say that if N/Naka isn't available, Providence is your best bet for that kind of experience.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:09 PM on September 5, 2017

Well, to be pedantic, Nancy Silverton was also on Chef's Table and Mozza is right in LA!

The great thing about LA right now is the extremely high quality of food you can get that in most cities is only really possible in a more formal atmosphere. I work in the industry (in LA sometimes but pretty peripatetic) and have a low tolerance for bad service and/or poorly executed food and LA is my favorite restaurant town.

A possible downside, if you really like fancy, is there's just not the same stable of restaurants that are both high-service AND culinary-art food that you get in Europe or New York/SF. SoCal doesn't really have a Faviken/Osteria Francescana/Alinea/Noma/DOM. I haven't been to Vespertine yet but its the only one I can think of that's really striving to be that, with n/naka, Providence, shibumi being up there. You might also want to try Lukshon, Trois Mec, or Saam/Bazaar

But, like I said, what I really love about LA is the quality you can get at comfortable and unstuffy restaurants that, if they were in other cities, would have to be wayyyy fancier in the service/atmosphere/menu construction. I would put Cassia, Bestia, Spring, Night + Market Song, Baroo, Rustic Canyon, MTN, Gjelina and Sqirl in this category.

Sqirl gets written off sometimes as a hipster toast place but Jessica Koslow is a fucking genius, her dishes are brilliant, and her sourcing is unimpeachable. If you want a chef's-table-as-in beautiful ingredients combined into unexpected, heartbreakingly delicious, how-the-fuck-did-they-do that combinations, go to Sqirl and get literally any of their specials. On food alone I think Sqirl is one of the best restaurants in the country. Think thinly sliced rare vension with a beautiful cold tomato soup and carefully selected herbs and greens, absolutely beautiful salads, etc. It's the kind of place where no component of a dish is overlooked, everything is there for a reason, it's all grown on really sustainable and serious farms, and they go to exhaustive lengths to get the best possible stuff. The kind of attention to detail that in another city and another space gets michelin stars.
posted by zingiberene at 2:16 PM on September 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think Bestia and Rossoblu are easily the equivalents of most of the places on the series. The places on the show are chosen for their story arcs, not just because of the food.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:39 PM on September 5, 2017

Update: a food writer friend of mine just instagrammed from Dialogue, which is from the ex-chef of Next who before that was the ex-CDC at Alinea. Tasting menu, a bit high-concept, attentive service, ticketed, 18 seats. Looks like it's right up your alley.
posted by zingiberene at 11:23 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Providence is one of my favorites, but if you want to try n/naka and are flexible on dates, it's really not that hard to score a res. I've gone 3-4 times using this method each time:
- get the Resy app
- set cancellation notifications for n/naka each night from now until whenever (it's tedious, but I usually go in and set dinner cancellation alerts for a month and a half)
- input your cc info into the app for efficiency's sake
- the moment you get a notification of a cancellation (and it will happen, several times) immediately swipe into the app and book the cancellation spot. You have time to cancel if you think about it and the date doesn't work for you.
- enjoy your meal!
posted by sprezzy at 11:11 PM on September 12, 2017

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