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Opus overrated

l
Loveleenda Jul 28, 2007 11:33 PM

I live in the area, and I have to say, after trying this restaurant several times, I am always left disappointed. Tonight was no exception. I really enjoy exciting food and bold flavors, but something is always missing at Opus. My boyfriend and I have been patiently (for years) waiting for the Koreatown revolution. We were so looking forward to the opening of Opus a few years ago. We tried it, there were a few kinks, we went back, some new kinks, again, new kinks, etc. They are constantly changing the knowledge/age/gender/skill/ethnicity of their staff. Clearly, the management is trying to find the right formula, but they can't seem to get it right. The restaurant has changed hands from brother to sister...originally a steak and seafood restaurant. We tried it a few times during the original phase. Super attractive female asian staff...Taylor's was far superior, steaks, service and all. Then came a transition, new staff. Sexy American Caucasion women. They knew little about the menu, wine, cocktails, etc. The food was generally ok, but overpriced considering the service. Then came the new management/ownership. The brother sold the restaurant to his sister (so we were told). My guess is that he grew tired of the lack of business, and saw the opportunity to escape...cut his losses. Soooo, the sister takes over. Then begins the miriad of staff and menu changes. The new chef gets a lot of press. We decide to try once again. The bar staff, mainly a young man whose name begins with a D, are knowledgeable and personable. This staff does a great job, though the food is still overpriced, inaccessible, and not really that impressive. We return soon after only to find him gone. They have fired their entire staff...this time it's a heathy mix of attractive Caucasian and Asian women. Tonight, a few months later, I have once again succumed to the temptation of Opus...new staff, mostly men. Our service was perfunctory and scripted, the food was bland, overcooked, not special. Our neighboring table concurred. I have read countless reviews between the newspapers and food magazines. These reviews have led me back to Opus, always ready to enjoy myself. I can't help but wonder if these reviewers may have received extra special treatment, or if the restaurant was having a great day, or if I am just completely nuts. Regardless, my experiences have all been tepid at best. Go to Opus if you wish, but don't expect much, and you won't be let down.

  1. r
    revets2 Jul 29, 2007 12:32 AM

    too bad for tepid experiences. we've had only great service and phenomenal food lately. we love OPUS.

    may i ask what you ordered?

    1 Reply
    1. re: revets2
      l
      Loveleenda Jul 29, 2007 08:25 AM

      In the past, I have tried the steak. We've had pretty much all of the appetisers one time or another. Last nighe we had a hearts of palm salad with walnuts and peaches. That was pretty tasty. My boyfriend had the salmon entree...completely flavorless. I ordered butter poached shrimp with yukon potatoes and seafood emulsion. The shrimp was overcooked.

    2. w
      woojink Jul 29, 2007 08:09 AM

      That's a real shame. I too have noticed the staff turnovers, but I have not had the "tepid" experiences. I've always had really good ones... both food and service. I've asked about the new/changing staff and it sounds like there were issues with the past folks so things had to be done... I thought it was a good thing that a restaurant seemed to react on the staff side when there were issues.

      My food experiences there have been pretty strong. I also feel that the $$ value is pretty good there when compared to other fine dining restaurants. Compared to small neighborhood joints in K-Town, it is more expensive... but I've always felt that Opus had the best tasting menu value in town.

      Also, most of the time I eat alone there at the bar... probably 75% of the time.

      4 Replies
      1. re: woojink
        l
        Loveleenda Jul 29, 2007 08:35 AM

        We always sit at the bar as well. Last night was the first time we sat at a table. We were wondering if our experience would be better. The staff is changing because they first of all can't keep a good staff due to lack of business, and second the owner keeps changing the actual bar staff in order to find what combination will actually bring in business (hence the sexy ladies who have absolutely no idea how to assemble a cocktail...I had to instruct them how to make a manhattan. yikes). I have worked in restaurants and bars for years, and the food and drinks should be able to stand on their own. The wait staff in the dining room may not change as much. Living in the neighborhood, I can see this place is never all that busy. This is strange to me, since it has been written about as well as talked about so much (I even heard an interview on KCRW recently). Why aren't they busy? At this point, I can only assume that others have not been impressed enough to return. I think the food can be good, but for us, it's always something that's not quite right. I have not tried the tasting menu...almost ordered it last night, but I can't eat lamb. The guy next to us had it, and said it was ok, but the lamb wasn't good. I'll probably go back in a few months...there aren't too many options in the area. I will be prepared to like it, but I am losing faith.

        1. re: Loveleenda
          Amuse Bouches Aug 3, 2007 05:45 PM

          When I went (back in March) I had to instruct them how to make a Shirley Temple.
          The food was good, but I wasn't super impressed -- yes, it's inexpensive for fine dining, but my husband is still talking about how small the portions on the tasting menu were.

          1. re: Amuse Bouches
            wilafur Aug 3, 2007 05:48 PM

            it is a tasting menu after all.....one should not expect large portions. =)

            1. re: wilafur
              Amuse Bouches Aug 3, 2007 05:57 PM

              I explained that to him, but other tasting menus I've had have been calibrated so that the total amount of food you get is satisfying. Opus was for him, on the small side. I was more satisfied, but I was also in my first trimester of pregnancy, and my appetite at that point was on the small side.

              It wasn't a bad meal by any means; I just don't really get the unrestrained raves that Opus receives on the board.

      2. j
        jeffro Jul 29, 2007 09:12 AM

        Dined at Opus last night (saturday) and couldn't have had a more positive experience. The flavors where bold, the dishes where very well executed and the service impeccable. We had the 6 course tasting menu with the wine pairings. Sardines, Foix Gras, Squab, poached egg, pablano soup, etc. For 60$ a head (+36$ for wine pairing) it would be hard to find a better deal in town.

        Wonderful meal.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jeffro
          l
          Loveleenda Aug 1, 2007 09:55 AM

          I'm sure the tasting menu is a great value, and a great experience. Our waitress seemed reluctant to share any information about it. We had pull everything out of her.

          1. re: jeffro
            blackbookali Dec 16, 2008 10:02 PM

            Madone, try the salad! Thats enough rich food to give Ghandi G O U T.

          2. hrhboo Jul 29, 2007 09:16 AM

            Does the ethnicity of the staff really matter? You don't say much about the food, which I have always found to be deicious and inspired. The tasting menu is really the way to go. If there is a component you don't enjoy (such as lamb) they are always happy to replace it with something more to your liking.

            19 Replies
            1. re: hrhboo
              l
              Loveleenda Aug 1, 2007 09:42 AM

              Our waitress told us that the chef is very reluctant to change the tasting menu unless you are allergic. She was pretty adament about this.

              1. re: Loveleenda
                hrhboo Aug 1, 2007 12:37 PM

                That is simply not true. At the start of the meal the server always inquires about your preferences and if there is anything you don't eat. They are ALWAYS accommodating! The tasting menu changes all the time, even on the same night. I often see the tables around us enjoying different courses to the ones we are enjoying.

                1. re: hrhboo
                  l
                  Loveleenda Aug 3, 2007 05:59 PM

                  Honestly, our server did not even mention the tasting menu at first. We had to ask a neighboring table what they were eating. When I mentioned not being able to eat lamb, the waitress strongly discouraged us from ordering the tasting menu. She mentioned that the chef really does not like to change anything on the menu. This might not be the case, but she certainly implied that it was not up for debate.

                  1. re: hrhboo
                    l
                    Loveleenda Aug 3, 2007 06:04 PM

                    Honestly, our waitress was not accomodating. That is my problem with the restaurant in the first place. Inconsistency. She did not even mention the tasting menu to us. We had to ask a neighboring table what they were eating. I made a point to ask about substituting anything for lamb. She clearly said no. She mentioned that the chef has a set tasting menu, and that he really prefers not to change it. She discouraged us from ordering it, which I found to be disappointing, since this is so obviously what gets talked about so often. She was overall uninformative and absolutely not accomodating. I wish I had your experience. I wish I had your server, but after so many inconsistent visits, I'm not sure I've got it in me anymore.

                    1. re: Loveleenda
                      w
                      writergirl Aug 3, 2007 08:27 PM

                      Probably the reason she didn't is because they don't officially offer it any longer. According to a previous chowhound post, basically diners were being complete jerks about special requests, splitting dishes, etc. It became cost ineffective to offer it. So they don't officially serve it, but if you ask for it, they'll accommodate you. Here's the previous post:

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/398200

                      Can I ask how you know the management "cleaned out" the entire staff, rather than it just being the normal turnover of a restaurant? Maybe they all got sitcom deals...

                      1. re: writergirl
                        l
                        Loveleenda Aug 3, 2007 09:39 PM

                        We learned about the "cleaning out" of staff from the bartenders as well as one of the past managers that "couldn't wait to get the hell out of here because the owners suck."

                      2. re: Loveleenda
                        Clare K Aug 6, 2007 08:46 AM

                        Very strange. I went with a friend who has a shellfish and nut allergy and they were more than accomodating. We asked first if this was okay, and made it clear that if it wasn't, it would not be a problem for us and we would happily order off the menu. The waiter went and talked to the chef, then came back saying it would be no problem at all. And this meant that we could not have anything with ANY shellfish or nuts, including broths, reductions, etc.

                        We were pleasantly surprised that they would be willing to customize the tasting menu to fit my friend's allergies.

                        1. re: Clare K
                          d
                          Diana Aug 6, 2007 10:47 AM

                          Allergies sort of are a different matter. Eating something you are allergic to can kill you.

                          But I kind of wish the flexibility was for everyone.

                          1. re: Diana
                            hrhboo Aug 6, 2007 10:55 AM

                            Apparently it is. Here's a link to a recent post from a couple with dietary restrictions.

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/421726

                            1. re: Diana
                              Clare K Aug 6, 2007 11:14 AM

                              I believe they do. In fact, the chef (in my experience) has always asked if there is anything we won't eat/dislike.

                          2. re: Loveleenda
                            r
                            revets2 Aug 7, 2007 01:26 PM

                            sounds like you got a bad apple of a waitress. i'm glad we've never run into this waitress. we've been twice with friends who don't eat squab and the chef has gladly replaced with something else both times.

                          3. re: hrhboo
                            l
                            Loveleenda Aug 3, 2007 11:21 PM

                            I just wanted to point out that I am commenting on my experience. It was real and very true, and unlike yours. They are NOT always accomodating. They did NOT inquire about our preferences. They DID tell us we would not likely be accomodated.

                            1. re: Loveleenda
                              b
                              brunello Aug 4, 2007 04:40 AM

                              As a long time eater at such places (including CUT in the shorter period) if you are specific to the waiter they were accommodating. Maybe it was the direct manner with what I presented (not for my benefit as I'll take stomach to hand for a great meal that might pain me later) but I've never been bashful or timid and I don't expect "NO" for an answer.

                              No great (or great aspiring) restaurant I know of would like to see if 2 (or more) people stand up and walk out, It's a spectacle unto itself that I'll gladly take advantage of that cachet.

                        2. re: hrhboo
                          l
                          Loveleenda Aug 1, 2007 09:52 AM

                          Ethnicity certainly doesn't matter. However, the management seems to think so. Why else would the clean out they entire staff, bring in a new staff of a specific ethnicity, again and again. It bothers me that the management does this, sacrificing the quality of a talented staff for looks, etc. If the food is so great, why treat the staff this way.

                          1. re: Loveleenda
                            wilafur Aug 1, 2007 10:13 AM

                            not sure what you mean about replacing talented staff with untalented staff. everytime i have been to opus (i go @ 1x mo), the servers and the mgmt have been tip top. the servers has always provided me with a great description of the dishes coming out along with reason(s) why the wine was paired with the particular dish.

                            as for the bar, i can't comment on ability to make frou frou drinks as i usually drink patron or ketel soda's....but the service from all the bartender's have been exemplary.

                            as for the food, other posters have summed up my feelings. the food is damn good and i love the fact that they go outside the box when it comes to the tm.

                            1. re: wilafur
                              l
                              Loveleenda Aug 3, 2007 05:48 PM

                              I had a bartender that could not make a manhattan, which is as classic as a gin martini. As for frou frou drinks, I ordered on from the Opus bar menu. None of the bartenders knew how to make them. They forgot to put in our dessert order. I did mention we had one excellent bartender. He was the only reason we kept returning. No one else (at the bar) has known about the food or wine. This has of course been over the span of the few years that Opus has been open. But everytime a new staff, that is strange.

                            2. re: Loveleenda
                              Clare K Aug 1, 2007 10:20 AM

                              Don't you think it's a huge assumption on your part to think that the management is purposely hiring people of a particular race to try and figure out what works? I've been to Opus many times and have never noticed that the staff is made up of one, particular ethnic group. It always seems pretty mixed to me. And short of one or two "hot" waiters/waitresses I've seen there, most of the staff seems pretty average/normal looking to me. Not like a lot of other LA hotspots where most of the waitstaff look like supermodels.

                              It just seems that you are inventing a problem that just isn't there. If you are not impressed with the food, fine. Service, fine. But to assume the management has some ulterior motive when it comes to who they hire sounds more like a conspiracy theory to me than reality.

                              Clare K.
                              http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

                              1. re: Clare K
                                hrhboo Aug 1, 2007 12:38 PM

                                The ethnicity of the staff seems pretty mixed to me too, and I eat there about once a month also.

                                1. re: Clare K
                                  l
                                  Loveleenda Aug 3, 2007 06:18 PM

                                  I don't mean to make this sound caddy, or like a conspiracy theory. It is merely an observation. When they first opened...I was there. There were half dressed women behind the bar. They did not provide good service. When we returned, there was a new staff. We thought this was a good sign. We figured they were still figuring out what works. This time, an all Korean female staff behind the bar. This did not strike me as odd, because it is Koreatown. Most restaurants in the neighborhood have Korean staff, male or female. It seemed logical. They were not attracting American clientelle. Then the multitude of changes continued, including the restaurant changing ownership. I have only sat at a table in the dining room once, so I don't pretend to comment on the different staff that wait tables, only on the bar staff. All I know, is that the one time we did sit at a table, we did not have good service. I don't care what my server/bartender looks like, as long as I get good service. One of the last times I went to Opus, the entire set of knowledgeable bartenders was gone, replaced once again with an all Korean female bar staff. When we asked when the other bartender was working, the bartender told us that the management fired the entire bar staff and hired an all new bar staff. I understand how I might sound like I'm inventing a problem, but this situation exists. I have at times enjoyed the food, other times I haven't. At times, I have enjoyed the staff, other times, I haven't. After working in restaurants for most of my life, it has been my experience that it all tricals down from the management. They are in control of all of these factors.

                            3. russkar Jul 29, 2007 09:44 AM

                              We feel Opus is one of the best choices near the downtown area and enjoyed a nice TM there about a month ago. The Chef's style isn't for everyone and he always pushing the envelope, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: russkar
                                l
                                Loveleenda Aug 1, 2007 09:53 AM

                                I agree, the chef is very talented. I've been to Meson G, and enjoyed the food there as well. It's the management and staff that has left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

                              2. stollingrone007 Jul 29, 2007 10:43 AM

                                One must keep in mind the many things that Opus is (and isn't).
                                It's a great place to try progressive cuisine w/o emptying your wallet. The decor is nice. The current wait-staff is pretty knowledgeable. The wine list is respectable and well-priced. And you don't have to make reservations 30 days in advance. Lastly, it's a nice restaurant without the Hollywood "scene."
                                Does it have the best food? No. Is the decor amazing? No. Are the waiters and bartenders encyclopedic? No. Is it ever flooded with people? No. But who wants a restaurant that is jam-packed? It's in K-Town, remember?
                                Opus isn't the best at any one thing. But it does many things well. And for the price - it's pretty hard to beat.
                                Lastly - have you tried the yellowtail sashimi w/ avocado and potato pancake? It's hard not to like this place after eating it.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: stollingrone007
                                  n
                                  NAspy Jul 29, 2007 11:59 AM

                                  That's a very good assessment. We have gone several times and while service has ranged from eager and ignorant to professional and knowledgable, the tasting menus have always been very good, particularly considering the prices. No, not every dish is great (the yellowtail sashimi was disappointing for me), but some are truly inspired, and at only $10 or so a course, you are getting the best fine dining value in town.

                                  We have never ordered off the menu and probably never will. Maybe that's why we like it so much -- it's different, courageous and creative. Sure he falls flat sometime, but I love the experience of watching this very talented chef have the guts to just try it out and see if it works.

                                  1. re: NAspy
                                    mollyomormon Jul 29, 2007 12:52 PM

                                    I also admire him a lot for making a sincere effort to make fine dining accessible to a much wider range of people than every other place in town that offers tasting menus. I sincerely hope what the OP said about Opus havign slow business isn't true. I need to get back there!

                                  2. re: stollingrone007
                                    Pamela Aug 3, 2007 01:49 PM

                                    I strongly agree with your post (and some of the others as well). Went to Opus last night. My Mom had never done a tasting menu, and so I thought it would be fun to let her try it out at Opus for her birthday. We had a 7-course tasting menu. Great service! Everyone was so attentive--from the server who primarily handled drinks, to the server who described the courses, to the server who constantly refilled our water glasses, to the server who took away our plates, to Chef Josef himself. Chef Josef made an appearance at least four times. All the servers were so friendly. (Also, in terms of ethnic constitution, the servers were very ethnically diverse. Sex-wise, it was not so diverse, as there were mostly male servers.)

                                    Was it perfect? No. I thought the food was good--some more than others. There was a green, spicy soup with pork belly that was out of this world, and a yellowtail dish that was excellent as well. Some of the dishes I did not care for, simply because they were ones that I dislike and avoid at all cost (fois gras and veal, for example). I also felt that more than a few dishes were a bit too salty, and noticed that they tend to use a lot of bacon. I also thought that they could have described the courses a bit slower, louder, and slightly more enthusiastically.

                                    Nonetheless, the experience was an awful lot of fun, the food was inventive, and the service was excellent. It was also quite a value. In a tasting menu at Opus, each course is $10. We ordered the 7-course tasting menu, but ended up getting at least 12 courses total PLUS two glasses of very fruity wine each...for free! I ended up tipping 32%, but felt bad about it afterwards; I should have tipped far more than that, considering how many extras they gave us. Next time I know better.

                                    1. re: Pamela
                                      w
                                      woojink Aug 4, 2007 01:27 PM

                                      Your experience sounds really great. Did you mom like it?

                                      I was there the night of the 2nd also. Sat at the bar and had a tasting menu by myself. Had a great time. In fact, I've just invited a colleague and his wife to dinner there next week... hopefully they can make it. If so, maybe I'll post an updated review.

                                      Only thing I would suggest is that if you have ingredients like foie and veal you don't eat, let them know, and I'm sure they will substitute and accomodate. I've taken people there that have had similar tastes, and they restaurant was completely able to accomodate.

                                      1. re: woojink
                                        Pamela Aug 5, 2007 10:33 AM

                                        That was me/us. I know this because we were the only ones sitting by the glass wall that separates the dining area and the bar.

                                        There certainly are a lot of Chowhounds around.

                                        I wanted to ask all of you one thing: How much do you usually tip when you have the tasting menu?

                                        1. re: Pamela
                                          Servorg Aug 5, 2007 10:47 AM

                                          Why would you tip other than normally, tasting menu or not?

                                          1. re: Servorg
                                            Pamela Aug 5, 2007 10:51 AM

                                            Because they give you so many extra "courses" for free. In another thread on tasting menus, there were posters who indicated they overtipped; many felt guilty about tipping too little, in spite of overtipping. I also felt that.

                                          2. re: Pamela
                                            w
                                            woojink Aug 5, 2007 07:12 PM

                                            I generally tip pretty heavy for a couple of reasons... one, I usually bring my own wine and so the check amount is far less than it normally would be if I bought wine, and second, they are so damn nice to me there... probably a combo of tipping well and coming in 2-3 times each month.

                                            I try and tip in the 25%-30% range. Your tip of 32% is just fine. If I'm ever in a situation where I want to tip a little more, I'll usually put some additional cash in the check holder... assuming the rest was using a CC... waitstaff tend to appreciate that.

                                    2. love2eat Aug 1, 2007 12:46 PM

                                      Not to veer off topic but is Opus open for lunch? Their website seems to have no mention of it.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: love2eat
                                        Servorg Aug 1, 2007 01:33 PM

                                        Opus Hours of Operation:
                                        Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm Friday & Saturday: 5:30pm - 11:00pm Bar & Lounge: Monday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 12:00am Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm - 1:00am

                                      2. w
                                        woojink Aug 4, 2007 08:06 AM

                                        Well this topic has certainly gotten big.

                                        One thing I see as very odd is that in the original post, the OP talks about two primary things... staff turnover and mediocre food. In fact, here is a quote, "Our service was perfunctory and scripted, the food was bland, overcooked, not special."

                                        Later on, the OP then talks about how s/he likes the chef and thinks he's talented (tried him at Meson G). Also later on, the OP complains that the staff was not good, but at the same time bemoans the turnover. The thing is, if the OP experienced bad staff, incompetent bartenders, and the restaurant/management decided to get rid of them, how can the assumption as to why they left be anything other than.... "they got fired because other customers, like the OP, had bad experiences"?

                                        I've been to Opus several times and have seen the staff change, but how is that something new in the restaurant business... esp in LA?

                                        The commment about how the manager's felt that the "owners suck" and "they couldn't wait to get out of there" tells me two things. One, these managers probably needed to leave (read: get fired), especially if they are telling customers that. And/Or Two, they are friends of the OP or know s/he somehow... which, if true, comepletely taints this post (from a first time poster - no rancor there, truly, welcome to chowhound) as from someone who was/is pals with staff that got fired from the establishment.

                                        All that being said, I've (and many of my friends) have had great meals at Opus, with good to great service. Staff turnover has happened, and for the most part, they were people who sound like weren't great.

                                        I won't get into how really odd it is to judge ANY restaurant having never had the food there.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: woojink
                                          l
                                          Loveleenda Aug 4, 2007 09:07 AM

                                          The reason the staff spoke with me, is because I went there several times and sat at the bar...which is often empty. I am not friends with any of the employees there. I also did not expect them to be so candid. It just came up during friendly bar conversation. I mentioned enjoying the food, because there have been times when I have. There have also been times when I haven't. It is this inconsistency which bothers me. As far as staff turnover, of course a natural change of staff is inevitable. However, when you live in the neighborhood and literally see a staff change from week to week, that is not a good sign. We were also disappointed to see that the best bar staff, that was there the longest, was suddenly gone at one of our last visits. They were the most capable and knowledgeable that I experienced. When we returned shortly thereafter, there was a new staff that told us the other staff had been fired. It was this new staff that was the worst we experienced. This is precisely why I bemoan the staff turnover. They finally had an incredible staff, only to be eliminated. If the new staff was not good simply because they were "new", then this means the management is not training the staff well. I have had some great meals at Opus. I have experienced great staff at Opus. Just never at the same visit. My point is that I am befuddled by all of the hagiographic praise for Opus. I am easy going, and always ready to enjoy myself, but have yet to have an experience that is complete at this restaurant. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if some of the people on the posts about Opus went there blind without having heard of the chef, or read the reviews.

                                          1. re: Loveleenda
                                            w
                                            writergirl Aug 4, 2007 09:47 AM

                                            The first time I went to Opus I had never heard of the chef, and hadn't read about them. I really liked it then (this was several months ago, before they dropped the tasting menu.) In fact, after I ate there I searched the boards because I thought it might have been a new restaurant. The last time I went, we didn't get the tasting menu (the server mentioned it still existed), just ordered off the regular one, and it was really good (the squid and pickled watermelon app. was amazing.) The server gave us complimentary Prosecco because the Jonathan Gold review had just hit the stands. I also saw the same server we had the first time, so he hadn't been fired. Maybe we've just been lucky with the food and service, it's not in our neighborhood, so we don't go often. I am not the type of diner who eats somewhere because of who the chef is. For one thing, my husband wouldn't put up with it! He would be hard pressed to name any chef, so the food is everything to him. I can't remember ever mentioning a chef in my posts, unless it's that horrible Joachim Splichal.

                                            It does seem some people have gotten a little carried away in their defense of Opus though...

                                            1. re: Loveleenda
                                              w
                                              woojink Aug 4, 2007 01:15 PM

                                              I'm going to try and chronicle my experiences at Opus...

                                              The first time I went to Opus, I'd never heard of the place or the chef. I was very impressed and thought that the food was terrific. The waiter that helped us that first visit... nearly 10 months ago was there for only 30-45 days longer. Turns out, he got a job at another restaurant, maybe you've heard of it... Pizzeria Mozza. He now works at Osteria Mozza.

                                              Opus with the current chef and owner has only been open for a year or so as I understand it. Prior to that it was a steakhouse and prior to that it was the Atlas. The current/new Opus is just that... a new restaurant that's been open for about a year. I don't relate it to previous occupants of the space or different owners. IMO You can't judge a current restaurant by the previous tenants of that space.

                                              Since my first visit, I've usually eaten alone at the bar, and I'm there a couple of times a month so I've come to know the bartender staff and the waitstaff fairly well. The one thing I will agree with the OP on is that there has been a lot of staff turnover. Relating any of that to an ethnic or racial matter of any type makes no sense to me.

                                              The bartender that the OP seemed to have liked (name starts with a D) was a good bartender for me... he took really good care of me and I, of course, tipped him well... so I'm assuming that helped. From my experience, I think there were some patrons he was far more attentive to than others... just an observation, not an empirical statement of fact. Could be that the OP was one of the folks he paid good attention to... again an assumption, nothing more. He knew the food, IMO he knew the beer list better than the wines, but I'm a pretty serious collector, so I didn't really ask much... perhaps I'm the wrong guy to judge.

                                              I do recall that whenever I had female co-workers go with me to Opus they all regularly commented on how good looking ('HOT!") this particular bartender was... and they ALL heavily bemoaned the fact that he wasn't there any longer. I also heard that he was fired along with several other folks, and that timeframe did cause a significant amount of drama at the restaurant. I don't know why he was fired, I don't want to know why he was fired... I can only assume it was for cause or a good reason. It would be wrong to assume anything otherwise without firsthand knowledge of the facts.

                                              If I recall, shortly after this staff turnover, or during, they hired a new GM. A tall guy. When I talked to him, he came from a pedigree of high end, fine dining places in LA. I don't think he was a good fit at Opus, I sensed some conflict between him and the staff and the owners. IMO, this guy did not feel warm and fuzzy. Then they had a woman GM, who I liked, she seemed nice and was really nice to me. I don't know how good a manager she was/is, I'm a customer, not an employee. I do know that they seemed ot have some additional waitstaff turnover during this time. Now, this woman is no longer there and they have another GM whom I've recently met and she seems really great.

                                              So the OP is right, the restaurant has had multiple GMs in the past year. Not a good thing. However, I think it is really important to note that aspect of the restaurant have improved with each change, so I think they are getting their feet under them and the "front of the house" is stabilizing. From my vantage point, they did go through a lot of waitstaff and bartenders, and other than the one guy I mentioned earlier, each iteration has been an improvement on the previous one. There were times that I saw servers and/or bartenders that seemed to have some serious struggles.

                                              All that being said, I would have to say that having a restaurant of this type, especially one that isn't a Korean food restaurant in K-Town is a VERY, VERY AMBITIOUS undertaking. The area is VERY homogenous and Korean centric... of course FAR, FAR less so than 10 years ago, but still very Korean centric. By the way, I'm Korean and have been going to K-Town since the mid 70s as a kid with my parents, so I'm VERY familiar with the area and it's dynamic. Koreans are talking about how many "white" people or non-Koreans are moving in to K-Town... there goes the neighborhood :)... I'm kidding!

                                              K-Town is NOT a destination place for a western food restaurant. The food in K-Town is superb, but the overwhelming majority of it is Korean and/or Asian. People just don't plan on going to K-Town for really great western food. That being said, I can't imagine how hard it would be to recruit, train, and retain strong staff for a western restaurant in this area... especially when there are a lot of new "hot" restaurants opening up in town in far more "foodie-centric or foodie-friendly" geographies. It's gotta be super tough.

                                              Why do I defend Opus? Why do I go there regularly?

                                              First and foremost, I love the food. I mean, I really love the food. I love new things, I think the chef at Opus is out there trying new edgy things and doing it without getting caught up in the stuffiness of the trappings that come with traditional fine dining restaurants. To me, I feel like he really wants great food to be available to anyone in a comfortable place. Why shouldn't that be supported?

                                              The biggest challenges Opus has had is in the area of front of the house staff. I'm pretty certain that they would agree with that. However, I've not ever had any bad or negative experiences there in this regard... I'm not saying nobody has. Also, I'm pretty confident that the chef and ownership of the restaurant is really passionate about providing a great dining experience to all their customers. Whenever I've spoken to the chef at Opus, he displays a passion for delivering great food and dining experience that you really don't see enough of... and that makes it a great place worth going to.

                                              In conclusion (I feel like I just wrote a TOME), I like Opus, the food is absolutely first class, I have not had bad service there, the place has had some staff challenges, but given the set of circumstances and geography that they have to contend with, I think they've done a DAMN FINE JOB of execution and delivery. That's why I defend the place. That's why I want it to stay in business and succeed. We need to reward chefs and restaurants that have a passion for food with our support. God knows there is enough mediocrity out there making people rich.

                                              1. re: woojink
                                                l
                                                Loveleenda Aug 4, 2007 05:01 PM

                                                That is a great chronicle. I completely agree that the challenge of keeping a restaurant with Western cuisine in business in K-Town is quite a feat. That is why I am so frustrated with my experience. I really want them to stay open and make things work. It really is the only place like it in this enormous neighborhood. I half assume I have been unlucky. One thing I can tell you is that it has definitely been in the current carnation of ownership and cuisine for about 2 years. I also did hear about the GM that was not so great. Like I have mentioned before, I wanted so much to like this place, and reviews like yours do make me go back, but I'm running out of steam, spending $100+, waiting to enjoy myself. I might just have to get in my car and go to The Hungry Cat or Luques.

                                                1. re: Loveleenda
                                                  w
                                                  woojink Aug 4, 2007 09:44 PM

                                                  Thanks. I'm pretty sure that the current owner/chef combo - two different people - took over the restaurant just a year ago. I'll bet they've either very recently had, or will have their first anniversary. The incarnation immediately prior to the current one would be when Opus really a steakhouse... so in my mind the restaurant is a year old. I'm going to confirm this the next time I go back.

                                                  If you do go back, have a small tasting menu.

                                                  1. re: woojink
                                                    l
                                                    Loveleenda Aug 5, 2007 11:09 AM

                                                    My mistake, I actually think you are right...woopsy. So many changes, it gets confusing.

                                                2. re: woojink
                                                  k
                                                  keaton Aug 4, 2007 10:38 PM

                                                  On the other hand, Denny's just keeps going right? How long have they been doing business there?

                                                  1. re: keaton
                                                    j
                                                    jlaws Aug 5, 2007 11:45 AM

                                                    My wife and I dine out often, mostly in the high-end restaurants of the Los Angeles area. It is interesting to see so many opinions on this restaurant.
                                                    I am a 50-something exec, and my wife is younger and also in management. We're not interested in gossip, "hotties", ownership scuttlebut etc. We do love fine dining. We don't golf, or sail or any of the usual hobbies people enjoy. Our hobby is fine dining and wine collecting (and drinking).
                                                    Opus is an excellent restaurant. It is not rated, (or ballot box stuffed on Zagat), as high as many other restaurants, in whose class it belongs. The food is near the top in innovation, but it also has the basics of steaks and salmon. The staff is very engaging, reasonably knowledgeable, and efficient. The wine list is excellent. The restaurant has many other little extras, and staff stopping by to engage, that it is always a pleasant experience. We think it is one of the better experiences in LA dining.

                                            2. l
                                              Loveleenda Aug 4, 2007 09:52 AM

                                              Wow. I didn't know there were so many passionate Opus eaters. I didn't mean to cause such a rucus. I do have a question for everyone though. I realize there is a tasting menu, which is obviously the thing to get. Someone in this thread has mentioned that it is not officially offered anymore. Opus has an entire menu. Why doesn't opus get any attention for it's actual menu, only for something that is not officially on the menu.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Loveleenda
                                                w
                                                woojink Aug 4, 2007 01:23 PM

                                                Don't worry about the ruckus. I've always felt that Chowhound is a better community when there is a pure passionate discourse about the FOOD.

                                                Here's an earlier thread on the tasting menu dealio...

                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/398200

                                                1. re: woojink
                                                  l
                                                  Loveleenda Aug 4, 2007 05:07 PM

                                                  Thanks for the link.

                                                2. re: Loveleenda
                                                  j
                                                  jlaws Aug 5, 2007 04:40 PM

                                                  We ate from the regular menu. As mentioned in my previous post, it was outstanding.

                                                3. p
                                                  proovit Aug 5, 2007 11:21 AM

                                                  I was very surprised by this post. Went to Opus for the third time last Friday. I've always thought the food was wonderful, and a real expereience, if you do it right. The tasting menu, at least the way we did it, was $10 per course, with a minimum of 4 courses. We had 5 courses. We asked if we could have different courses. Sure. They charge an extra $10 for eating different courses in tandem. So, for $110 we got to share 10 different courses. Some were better than others. All were interesting. Some were oustanding. All were fun. This is a great place.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: proovit
                                                    p
                                                    proovit Aug 5, 2007 01:28 PM

                                                    And I forgot to mention all the in between courses they bring.

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