The Dish on Dining
Some of the newest eats we can’t wait to sink our teeth into.
A 13-foot Buddha, Versailles-like crystal chandelier, traditional Japanese masks and jewel-box gilt details all in a former church should not make for a coherent dining experience, but somehow they do at Agura—the first US restaurant for Japanese restaurateur Yasumasa Kawabata. The Japanese-French fusion menu features some spectacular sushi arrangements, like the ornate Agura platter with five different types of fish wrapped in cucumber and garnished with flying fish roe. Eclectic entrees include curried lamb chops with couscousand luscious pan-fried halibut in Madeira sauce. Skip your usual glass of vino in favor of a hardto- find sake. We recommend the award-winning Tamagawa or a specialty cocktail like the Manhattan made with plum wine. A highbacked chair in the dining room or a stool at the sushi bar is ideal seating, but the large patio is also prime territory. Better yet, invitea few friends along and book one of the screened-off private rooms. Just be sure to remove your shoes before stepping inside. 514 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-289-1940; aguradining.com —ERIC ROSEN
Expect the unexpected at one of the newest additions to Downtown’s burgeoning dining scene, The Gorbals. Situated in the historic Alexandria Hotel, the restaurant is the brainchild of Bravo’s Top Chef season-two winner Ilan Hall. Inside this industrial, modern space (think clean walls, stainless steel bar tops and hip-hop music on the sound system), snag a seat at the long, oak communal table or the most coveted spot of all—a stool at the bar facing the bustling open kitchen.
Hall’s worldly travels and ancestry inspire the eclectic menu (his mother is Israeli and his father Scottish; the restaurant is named for the neighborhood in Glasgowwhere his father grew up). Hall’s creativity impresses with offbeat items such as bacon-wrapped matzoh balls, Manischewitz-braised pork-belly ribs with clapshot (mashed turnips and potatoes) and cremini mushroom soup with haggis meatballs. But Hall’s pièce de résistance is gribenes (fried chicken skin) with lettuce and tomato on rye. “Everybody loves crispy roast chicken, so why wouldn’t they like just the skin on a sandwich?” asks Hall. “For me [the menu is] all the best bits of everything.” 501 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, 213-488-3408; thegorbalsla.com —LESLEY MCKENZIE
Bouchon in Beverly Hills
Los Angeles has its share of famous chefs—especially of the reality-TV variety—but it’s not every day a talent with seven Michelin stars makes his triumphant return, as Thomas Keller did this past November with the opening of Bouchon in Beverly Hills.
Widely considered one of the top chefs—if not the top chef—in the country, Keller hasn’t graced LA kitchens with his legendary culinary talent since working at Checkers Downtown in the 1990s. But now the Southern California native is finally back with the third location of Bouchon (the other twoare in Yountville and Las Vegas), a French bistro with traditional design touches like a pewter bar, mosaic floors, pastel murals and brass fixtures shedding a “La Vie En Rose” pink tint on the enormous dining room.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY KAHIKI RUBINO (AGURA); JOE SCHMELZER (THE GORBALS), ALEX J. BERLINER © BERLINER STUDIO/BEIMAGES (BOUCHON INTERIOR); ROBERT OLDING (ROAST CHICKEN)