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Jul 16, 2007 04:16 PM

Opus Was Amazing (Long)

Last night my SO and I ventured out to our first fancy meal in L.A. We just moved from Boston and have been feasting on Tacos and Thai up till now. But it was our anniversary, so we decided to splurge at Opus. It was amazing.

We sat at one of the tables with the big cushy chairs. When our waiter came by he was very relaxed and friendly, a welcome relief from the saccharine hostess. We ordered the four course tasting (my SO eats only vegetables and fish – and I eat more than that – and the waiter was very cool about making sure that my tasting had meat in it.) He also pointed us to a great bottle of Albariño. I said we ordered 4 courses (and we only paid for four) but we got 7…and they were all amazing and well conceived.

Amuse Bouche: Creamy Corn Soup with Strawberries in a shot glass
The tasted like the sweetness of corn. Even though it was creamy, the fruitiness of the corn was well matched with the brightness of the strawberries – and the strawberry seeds crunched in your teeth in a really satisfying way. I wanted to lick the shotglass, but I wasn’t drunk enough yet.

First Course: Hamachi Yellowtail with Tonburi and Celery Ice.
This was garnished with some explosively fresh chives (I think garlic chives), parsely and julienned radishes. The fish was really amazing, cut into cubes like little pats of butter. Like most of the dishes, there was a subtle sweetness. The mountain caviar (tonburi) really popped like caviar. This was some of the best raw yellowtail I’ve ever eaten. Again, I refrained from licking the plate.

Second Course: “The Egg” or Breakfast.
I got the Bacon, she got it without bacon, but both of us were speechless. I’ll admit that it sounded gimmicky reading about it here and elsewhere, but the elements worked together with so much subtlety. It really was like a great breakfast all in one little egg. Plus, I really like eating with a tiny spoon.

Third Course: Spotted Prawn Soup with Chard
I wish I knew the exact provenance of the broth that this prawn was swimming in. It was dark, sweet, somewhat smoky. I’ve never had fish stock that I liked so much. The prawn tasted like good lobster tail, it was bizarrely good. And the chard was good…but mostly because it was in the broth.

Fourth Course: Carrot Ravioli with morels, brown butter sauce and aged cheese
So pillowy. The pasta was light, the carrot filling was light, the brown butter was perfect and the morel was fresh. Here, though I didn’t lick the plate, I did sop up the sauce with some bread. Often I find ravioli to be heavy – even when it’s great. There was nothing heavy about this. I could have been happy with just the morel in the butter though.

Main Course: Squab (me) Some kind of white fish (her) over fresh green garbanzos and cherry tomatoes
We haven’t been able to stop talking about those garbanzos. I looked at the farmer’s market today for them, in vain. Green garbanzos and cherry tomatoes is fresh, almost Provencal, but it’s also strange and exciting. My squab was delicate, rare and covered in enough of it’s own jus to make it happy. Her fish (we didn’t catch the name) was also perfectly cooked, and the grape on it provided the link to that sweet through line through the entire meal.

Dessert: Fig and Almond Tart with Chocolate Drizzle
I don’t like figs, and she does. I liked this as much as I can like figs though. The texture was almost like creamy eggplant, and the whole thing was not a cloyingly sweet as some fig preparations can be. Plus the crust was appropriately salty which offset the cloy for me a bit as well. We shared a glass of white port with this as well.

Overall it was an amazing dinner (and certainly an absurd value for the amount of courses that we ate). We’ll be back when we can afford it. We’ve eaten some good food in NY and Boston (Chestnut, Grocery, Craigie St. Bistrot, etc.) and this matched or surpassed them all. Plus, we took the train home. What could be better?

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  1. Great report. What was the damage (and what did you drink)?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Damage: 150 for the two of us.

      Drink: We shared a 40 dollar bottle of Albarino and a 10 dollar glass of white port.

      Not cheap, but I've spent much more on far inferior meals.

      In my opinion, the only value that comes close to this Chestnut in Cobble Hill in NY, and frankly, I think Opus is cheaper and slightly better food.

      1. re: badschiraldi

        Thank you for the excellent and detailed review! this makes me want to go back to Opus so much!

    2. great review. i went this past friday and had a similar TM......and it was fantastic as always. i really dug the diced hamachi dish and the new york strip w/ green garbanzos (our main course).

      1. Trader Joes was carrying frozen green garbanzo beans for a while. I haven't looked recently, though. They were quite good.

        1. I concur! Opus was a pleasant surprise.

          Last night, my bf and I also tried the innovative tasting menu. While we opted for the 6-course tasting menu and 2 glasses of wine for me, the end result consisted of 10 dishes, 2 glasses of white wine, 1 glass of red wine (compliments of our server Stevie), and 2 glasses of port (compliments of the chef).

          To begin, we received a basket of parmesan crusted bread and large tortilla chips with a side of butter.

          Amuse Bouche: cold melon soup topped with shrimp in a shooter glass. When presented with the soup, I thought the combination was unexpected and rather odd--melons and shrimp; who knew? The sweet soup tasted light and refreshing--a great palate cleanser--and the little bits of chopped shrimp was quite tender and savory.

          1st Course: a _generous_ portion of yellowtail tartare with caviar and celery sorbet ball. Amazing and insanely buttery. The flavorful celery sorbet was scooped like a small melon ball, and the cool celery flavor complemented the tartare and vinaigrette excellently.

          2nd Course: musha (mackerel) with some sort of palm root (?). I wish I had payed better attention because I can't quite remember what it was that we ate with the delicious seared mackerel. It was something that I had never eaten before; it sort of tasted like a root and looked like a root... therefore it was a root?

          3rd Course: cutesy looking breakfast egg (sherry and creme fraiche plus honey and bacon bits). Note: mix the contents of the egg well to thoroughly appreciate it. It was perfect and the egg was cooked just right. We enjoyed the egg so much that we found ourselves carefully scraping the interior of the egg when there was obviously nothing left! The sweet cream and hints of crispy/salty bacon left us feeling very comforted and happy.

          4th Course (2 soups in tandem): poblano soup with creme fraiche and crispy pork belly and sliced grapes; pistachio soup with dungeness crab and sprinkled with chives. The poblano soup was my personal favorite of the night and I highly recommend it. There was so many flavors dancing in my mouth: the spiciness of the poblanos, the creaminess of the soup, the salty pork belly, and the sweetness of the grapes.

          5th Course: squid with a dark blackish colored sausage. The squid was well prepared and I wish I knew what kind of sausage it was that I had eaten. Overall, an appropriate combination.

          6th Course: ravioli with a creamy/buttery sweet sauce, topped with foie gras. Yum, yum, yum! The sweetness of the ravioli sauce was delicately offset by the foie gras.

          7th Course: sea bass (?) matched with caramelized ginger and charred romaine lettuce. The fish was well executed: it was baked crispy on the thin outside crust and fluffy in the inside, just the way it is supposed to be prepared. The caramelized ginger enhanced the dish with a subtle hint of sweetness.

          Main Course: NY steak and braised short rib with 2 types of beans. The steak was cooked medium rare and was perhaps the most tender NY steak I ever had.

          Dessert: banana slices, nuts and creme fraiche ice cream with complimentary (!!) port. While the dessert by itself would have been a fun, but slightly mediocre ending to a fantastic meal, the port truly enhanced the fresh and clean flavor of the creme fraiche.

          I look forward to dining here again. For $60 each for the two 6-course tasting menus and $24 for wine, the meal was an absolute bargain. Big thanks to Stevie and the chef for their enthusiastic efforts!