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Sep 7, 2007 09:57 PM

My experience at Opus

So I've been wanting to go to Opus for a while, and I finally had a chance to go tonight. Overall, I thought it was fun and the food good-- not excellent, but well worth it. That seemed to be the consensus from what I've been reading, too, that it was decent but not excellent.

I ordered the 5 course tasting menu, after I inquired. The tasting menu itself wasn't on the menu, and I had to ask the waiter if they still offered it. He said they did, and when I inquired how many courses it was; he said I can pick. So I did! I asked for a 5 course. I had my two moms with me, and I was taking them out. I asked what was on the menu, and he said it was as the chef wants-- completely spontaneous. The moms were hesitant, but I told them they had to: the entire table had to order or no go.

So this is what we got:

Amuse bouche of small chunks of shrimp in a honeydew puree. Refreshing, and a fun way to start the whole dining experience. The two moms were intrigued.

Hamachi ceviche with a dollop of melon sorbet. This was delicious. The hamachi was in tiny cubes with lots of parsley. The melon sorbet was really, really excellent.

"breakfast egg;" I think a few people who have posted about Opus have had this before. Poached egg with creme fraiche, bacon, and honey. It was rich. Mom 1 didn't like it.

Heirloom tomato with a scoop of burrata cheese and a mound of chiffonade basil. The tomatoes were delish. Mom 2 loved the heirloom tomatoes especially.

Spicy posole. YUM. We all dug in with bread. (Is that uncouth?) Spicy, chunky, warm, filling. I had just gotten my September issue of Gourmet with the Latin American focus, so I was intrigued. Hadn' had it before.

John Dory atop a mound of Lentils. By far the moms' favorite dish. They kept going on and on about the fish. It was a small portion, but then again, it is a tasting menu.

Seared lamb with red wine reduction and some spring veggies (green beans, yellow and green zucchini and yellow beets.) Delicious! Mom 1 didn't want her lamb, so I ended up eating a double portion, which was fine by me. Mom 2 thought the lamb wasn't done right, she said it smelled funny. Lamb does have a different odor than beef, and I said so, but she was convinced that it was because it wasn't cooked enough. Me? As long as I don't get sick immediately, I'll eat and be happy so no complaints from me.

Dessert was a sweet potato ice cream, sliced from a terrine mold, with toffee bits and pomegranate seeds in a shallow pool of creme anglaise. Also delicious.

So.... while I ordered a 5 course meal, I got 8. After 5 courses, the moms were disappointed that they hadn't had any meat or fish dishes. Me, I was wondering where my damn dessert was! We were all sort of confused, and I was about to order a separate dessert and coffee when the server came around and let us know that we had a fish, meat, and dessert still to come out. Mom 1: Oh, good. I thought we were done already! It was $50 for my "5 course" tasting menu. I had 2 glasses of wine, Mom 2 had a glass of wine (Mom 1 had none), and Mom 2 and I had espresso at the end which racked up the bill just north of $200 before tip.

All in all, I'd definitely go back but I'd have to be honest and say that it's because I enjoyed the company and I'll always have a satisfied and warm and fuzzy feeling associated with the place. The moms really enjoyed the experience! I can see why people are so flip floppy about the restaurant though. The food was innovative enough (I thought... but I'm not really a high end foodie) and the service was so so. Dishes were cleared away promptly, and they checked on our table fairly regularly, true. However, wine wasn't really an expertise by the server, which I thought was too bad, and the server rushed through the explanations of the dishes as he served them, as if he'd forget what the chef had just told him. The restaurant itself is beautiful, sort of a hidden jewel smack dab in Koreatown between the Wiltern/LG theater and a Denny's. The two moms were sufficiently impressed and totally confused that they had no idea such a place in Ktown even existed.

I wish more people would go: We had a reservation from open table for 5:45pm and we stayed till 8 and had a great time, but even at 8 when we left, half the restaurant was empty. I think the chef is doing really fun things, and I certainly had a good time. But the more I think about the place, it's not necessarily the food that sticks in my head as much as what a good time I had with the moms and their reaction and our discussion of the dishes.

So if you haven't tried Opus... maybe it's time to give it a go? Like I said, innovative enough, but not stellar. But maybe that could change if more people went and the chef had sufficient reason to be busy? I'd hate to see the place fail.

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  1. Next time, if there is one, try ordering off the menu. You might enjoy the food more than the tasting get exactly what you want, and the food is still really innovative and good. I think one reason some folks aren't thrilled with Opus's food is they order the tasting menu, and may get served things they'd never order normally (like your mom and the lamb.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: writergirl

      Yes, I will definitely order off the menu the next time I go, I think. I really like the restaurant, physically, too. The restaurant wasn't exactly busy when I was there so I don't know how loud it would get if the place was filled, but it had the right ambience that I was looking for. I might go there on a Tuesday night to try the chef's "bacos."

      1. re: acidspit

        I went to Opus last night after googling "place to eat near the Wiltern" and happening upon this sight. It sounded decent enough and was really close to the Wiltern which was key. I was very disappointed in the food. It's really not even mediocre- I'd call my dinner last night "bad"- especially with their trendy Hollywood pricing-. $21 for a greasy, unappetizing looking, mostly tasteless piece of chicken. No carbs or veggies on the plate with the chicken (besides a small amount of limp greens that were supposed to be a garnish), I guess you are supposed to order side dishes for another $10? My friends had pasta which was also close to $20 a plate, I tried it, it was mediocre at best. And their presentation was lousy- my food looked like someone had slopped it on the plate. There is a bar menu that is half price until 8pm, we were told we could only eat that at the bar, but then we saw 2 different tables seated next to us eating burgers and fries, which I assume was off the bar menu. ??? Service was slow, they told us they were slammed, and comped us our brie fries appetizer (also not good, a plate of tasteless fries with some brie melted over it with the rinds sticking out unappetizingly on the plate). After dinner we hung around waiting for the show to start at the Wiltern, and they ignored us after we were done with our food, although I would've ordered more drinks. On the positive side, the service was very nice and friendly, our waiter was very sweet, and the atmosphere is ok. I'd go there for drinks before a show and possibly for the 1/2 off bar menu, but never again for dinner.

        1. re: mfscams

          Opus was good when Chef Josef Centeno was there. Since he left a while back, I'm not surprised that you had a disappointing meal. Sorry to hear how bad it was for you.