dineLA Restaurant Week celebrates its fifth year anniversary, and LA, Inc.’s promotional, prix fixe program is back from January 22-27 and January 29-February 3, featuring approximately 300 local restaurants. Given the finite number of meals, and limited budgets, it’s necessary to pick and choose. Here are the most appealing restaurants, either for value’s sake or dish degree of difficulty.
Deluxe Dining – 3 courses cost $16 at lunch, $26 at dinner
The beachfront restaurant from the owners of Hotel Erwin, chef Brendan Collins and business partner Carolos Tomazos is an especially good Restaurant Week lunch value, when $16 includes choices like goose terrine with huckleberry compote, a 6 oz. lamb burger, and sticky toffee pudding.
Sam’s by the Beach
Syria native Samer Elias offers one of the only values along Channel Road’s strip of beachside restaurants. For Restaurant Week, a $26 menu include a mezze trio, grilled butterfish in citrus sauce, and Namoura, a classic Middle Eastern farina cake baked with yogurt and rose water.
Short Order, the new burger concept from Nancy Silverton, Bill Chait and the late Amy Pressman, offers value at lunch, when their $16 menu includes options like Short Order spuds, Ida’s Old School Burger with grass-fed beef, Widmer aged cheddar and SQIRL handmade pickles. They also include a $5 gift certificate to their side-by-side sister establishments, Short Cake/Single Origin.
Starry Kitchen has an identical $16 menu at lunch at dinner, which might make this the best dinner value of any Restaurant Week participant. “Savory pork wontons in chili oil-liciousness,” “the Vietnamese minced beef-tactular” and “lychee panna cotta w/a salted plum sauce” works for me. Co-owner Nguyen Tran is quite a wordsmith, and it’s worth reading the menu for entertainment value, at the very least.
The Roof on Wilshire
This new restaurant with panoramic views and chef Eric Greenspan in the kitchen seems like an especially good option at lunch, when $16 gets you choices like the Mediterranean-influenced Wilshire Salad, a Wilshire Burger with cheddar “skirt” and a fruit cobbler with muffin streusel and strawberry ice cream that for some reason doesn’t carry Wilshire in the name.
Premier Dining – 3 courses cost $22 at lunch, $34 at dinner
Bar + Kitchen
This downtown restaurant in the O Hotel takes chances on their Restaurant Week menu, offering options like crispy pork belly with pickled sunchokes and plum puree at lunch, roasted veal sweetbreads and rabbit & biscuits at dinner and butterscotch pot de crème at both meals.
Chef Haru Kishi reinvigorated this long-standing Beverly Hills brasserie. His Restaurant Week menu includes a venison meatball sandwich with green peppercorn slaw at lunch, a pork chop with coffee mashed potato at dinner, and interesting soups at both meals.
Market-driven chef Mark Gold figured out how to incorporate ingredients like black truffle, foie gras and Dungeness crab into his Restaurant Week menu and still come in at only $34 for dinner. Hopefully they’re not trace amounts, but foie gras torchon with persimmon and chestnut, and live Dungeness crab ravioli sound good to me. He doesn’t give much away with his three dessert choices, naming them nothing more than Chocolate, Lemon and Almond.
The contemporary Asian restaurant from chef Sang Yoon in the Helms Bakery complex offers compelling options like Hawaiian butterfish with multiple radishes, Prince Edward Island black mussels with green chile rempah and Southeast Asian flavors, and lemongrass panna cotta with Asian pear in yuzu and rau ram-lime granita. At dinner, there’s even the option to order a whole steamed fish for two with Taiwan spinach, black bean ghee and sambal jip.
Mezze might be the most pork-unfriendly restaurant participating in Restaurant Week, but chef Micah Wexler and his partners atone for their porkist attitudes with a bevy of Middle Eastern spices, seasoning lamb shoulder with dukkah, shwarma with amba, and fish with coriander.
Night + Market
Kris Yenbamroong is one of the chefs who took Restaurant Week as an opportunity to develop new dishes, and unlike team Mezze, he’s a pork convert, pairing pork rinds with Chiengrai mushroom relish, and braising pig tails and trotters with palm sugar, pickled garlic and ginger. The young chef also figured out how to make prawns “dance,” and carries catfish through the “garden.”
Lima native Ricardo Zarate also developed new (Peruvian) dishes just for Restaurant Week, including Spanish mackerel tiradito with ginger sauce and shrimp chips, pan-fried branzino with pallares beans and parihuela seafood sauce, and quinoa pudding with fresh berries on their $34 dinner menu.
Ray’s & Stark
This market-driven, globally influenced restaurant from the Patina Group, starring executive chef Kris Morningstar and pastry chef Josh Graves, resides in an appealing LACMA courtyard. Their $34 dinner menu includes a rare beef carpaccio with herbs from their adjacent beds, a pan-roasted fish with shrimp chips, and chocolate peppermint mousse with several chocolate accompaniments.
The breakout southern Italian restaurant from seasoned chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack features their signature pizza, pasta, and at least at lunch, porcetto! They make textbook Sicilian cannoli, or if bah-ing is your bag, dessert could be sheep’s milk yogurt panna cotta.
Waterloo & City
The large-scale, British-inspired gastropub from chef Brendan Collins and business partner Carolos Tomazos doesn’t skimp on flavor. Their $34 Restaurant Week dinner menu includes chicken liver & foie gras parfait, roast pork chop with fried pork belly, apple and squash, and sticky toffee pudding or rum-glazed doughnuts with Bavarian crème and raspberry sorbet.
Considering entrees run in the 20s at the Viceroy’s restaurant, a $34 dinner menu is a good draw. Executive chef Tony DiSalvo and chef de cuisine Chris Crary offer choices like grilled octopus, roasted cobia with shellfish cassoulet, and chestnut cake with brown butter and cranberry sorbet.
Fine Dining – 3 courses cost $28 at lunch, $44 at dinner
Nadav Bashan and wife Romy may have the best restaurant in NELA, which is worth the drive any time of year, but especially during Restaurant Week. Their Mediterranean-influenced menu includes one of the best pork bellies in the city, imaginatively plated seared scallops, and a buttermilk panna cotta with pomegranate granita, Kalamata olive caramel and puff pastry biscuits.
If anybody helps bring my foie gras speakeasy prophecy to light, it just might be Petrossian chef Giselle Wellman, who created a special foie gras menu for Restaurant Week, for only $44.
Note: I write for dineLA on a monthly basis, including this month’s 30 at 30 (or Under) story.