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josef centeno leaving OPUS

jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 09:37 AM

I used to love going to Opus for their great tasting menu. I never really liked their standard food, but Josef had a great global tasting menu. It was 10 bucks for each course, as many courses as you like. They never advertised it really, you just had to go in and ask for it. When we used to get the tasting menu, we would be one of the only ones in the whole restaurant getting it. Now, its gone!!!!! To me, Opus is now practically worhtless.

I called in and they said that Josef is leaving to open up a small global tasting restaurant in Silver Lake. Hooray. Does anybody know any details?

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    AquaW RE: jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 09:59 AM

    Yes, Opus is well-known for their great & definitely affordable tasting menu (I am not sure what you mean by "they never really advertised it" -- it's not heavily promoted, but the tasting menu was listed on menu). But a number of factors got Josef to scale back and, eventually, take off the tasting menu. Very unfortunate, but I'm glad it lasted as long as it did.

    But him leaving Opus and going to Silver Lake is news to me, last I heard was that he was developing a Oaxacan-themed menu @ Opus. Still, him moving is no guarantee of a tasting menu return. Would love to see how this develops.


    2 Replies
    1. re: AquaW
      Woolsey RE: AquaW Sep 25, 2007 10:47 AM

      As Eater LA mentions, "PR worked overtime to make sure he was covered in all the right places." While the tasting menu at Opus may not have been as ubitquitous in foodie circle as, say, Campanile's Grilled Cheese Night or Lucques' Sunday Suppers, it got a good amount of press. It wasn't exactly a secret.

      I suspect that, at ten dollars per course, the tasting menu was probably becoming an unsustainable loss leader - too many people were getting the menu without enough alcohol sales, too few orders off the full-price menu. (Many diners lured by a bargain-priced tasting menu are not likely to splurge on an expensive bottle of wine but rather maybe have one or two reasonably-priced glasses throughout the meal to keep costs low.) That's almost certainly why it's going.

      1. re: AquaW
        jlrobe RE: AquaW Sep 25, 2007 02:47 PM

        Sorry. I never noticed it. When I went in I couldnt find it and asked the server if they had one. I am not super perceptive though :).

      2. Woolsey RE: jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 10:22 AM

        I stopped in at the bar at Opus last night before Editors at the Wiltern while waiting for two friends to straggle in from more far-flung reaches of the city. I tried the masa dumplings with braised oxtail and dry jack cheese atop of bed of mâche, and they were really excellent and quite filling. As my friends were running late, and the drinks were pretty strong - good for the bartender for suggesting an old-fashioned when I said I normally drink bourbon - I ordered the warm cheese with avocado and chorizo to go with the too-greasy tortilla chips (the one hiccup in the food) as none of the desserts were calling to me. The cheese was like a gourmet version of the Velveeta-Rotel dip often augmented with pork sausage that is ubiquitous in Texas; it was delightfully Proustian for me. The bartender told me the chef made it himself as that dish "is sort of his thing." The first friend to arrive had the hummus plate. It wasn't earth-shattering, but we enjoyed it, especially as the olive selection was pitted to make eating easier and neater.

        The drinks were pricey, and the room, while lovely and sexy in a generic way, somehow felt a little wrong for the ethnic-inspired food I tried. The masa dumpling dish had a lot of personality; the dining room, which has a sort of hotel quality about it, really did not. From my admittedly limited experience with the chef's cuisine, something more funky and relaxed - a little more (God, how I hate to say it) Silver Lake - actually seems to fit. I'm looking forward to this move if it's true.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Woolsey
          jlrobe RE: Woolsey Sep 25, 2007 02:45 PM

          I dont want to spread rumors. I was under the impression that he found a place in silverlake, but I am apparently wrong. Anyhow, officially, he said he is staying with Opus and wont open a new spot for 8-9 months.

          I guess I will have to srping for Hatflields seven courses at 78 bucks. Not too shabby!

          I like the decor. Opus used to be an American chophouse so it fit nicely when I first went.

          1. re: jlrobe
            Woolsey RE: jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 03:21 PM

            The Hatfield's tasting menu is an excellent deal; it just doesn't have the course flexibility. (Hatfield's is definitely on my shortlist of restaurants, but I'm still waiting impatiently for Comme Ça.)

            The decor isn't awful, just a touch bland. I think it would serve steaks or Continental food better than the Latin-inspired dishes I had. Of course, I did notice it's quite an eclectic menu, so perhaps that decor is the only way to go without dressing it like a Cost Plus.

            1. re: Woolsey
              carter RE: Woolsey Sep 25, 2007 03:29 PM

              That look was there previously when Atlas Bar & Grill was the occupant, and thus they only had to make affordable changes to create the current look.

              1. re: carter
                lesleyb RE: carter Sep 25, 2007 05:20 PM

                No, no. Atlas was atrocious. Kind of burgandy, if I recall from a horrible work happy hour years ago. They served quesadillas, crappy ones, and cold chicken wings straight from the freezer to the fryer. When Opus Bar & Grill opened, pre Josef, it was a breath of fresh air. Gorgeous. I think from Opus B&G to just Opus, very little, if anything was done to the decor.

          2. re: Woolsey
            FoodieKat RE: Woolsey Sep 25, 2007 04:25 PM

            And what a great concert that was too! I came in from OC last night to see the Editors, and I walked past Opus, and meant to go in, but would you believe, I wasn't sure I liked the look of the place. I am very new to OC/LA, so this is my excuse. :-) Will try Opus next time I'm in LA.

            1. re: FoodieKat
              Woolsey RE: FoodieKat Sep 25, 2007 07:09 PM

              I can understand why you walked on by. I've done the same thing dozens of times. Honestly, I hate the self-important name - OPUS! We are making something important! - and the made-for-generic-romance decor. Really, with all the orchids and hookeresque red lights and candles strewn about (even on the urinals!), I half expected a bus boy to come up and French me at any moment. The place is set for seduction. All that's missing is a heart-shaped box of Russell Stover, an ice bucket with a cold bottle of André, and Barry White on the stereo.

              1. re: Woolsey
                SauceSupreme RE: Woolsey Sep 25, 2007 08:47 PM

                His former restaurant Meson G exhibited the same qualities.

                1. re: SauceSupreme
                  Woolsey RE: SauceSupreme Sep 25, 2007 11:29 PM

                  Oh, baby - Silver Lake, get ready for luv!

                  1. re: SauceSupreme
                    FoodieKat RE: SauceSupreme Sep 26, 2007 12:24 AM

                    Lol. Well, now I am definitely going to have to visit Opus next week! In the end I opted for Furusato, which was just a bit further up Wilshire (sushi was just OK, salmon teriyaki cooked perfectly). Funnily enough though, the Editors themselves showed up and sat at the table opposite me and my hubby, so not all bad. :-)

            2. wilafur RE: jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 10:53 AM

              i do not think josef is leaving opus. he scouting locations in the silver lake area for a small tasting menu type restaurant....which is backed by the same folk(s) behind opus. i believe he will split his time between the 2 places.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wilafur
                New Trial RE: wilafur Sep 25, 2007 04:42 PM

                That was my understanding from the Chef last time I was in.

              2. hrhboo RE: jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 10:59 AM

                Does anyone if Opus still has bacos? I know that they will be served every night of the week soon, but I'm not sure if this has happened yet. I wanted to go there tonight.

                3 Replies
                1. re: hrhboo
                  Woolsey RE: hrhboo Sep 25, 2007 11:08 AM

                  They were listed on the backside of the bar menu last night.

                  1. re: Woolsey
                    wilafur RE: Woolsey Sep 25, 2007 11:12 AM

                    and listed on the new dinner menu as well.

                    1. re: wilafur
                      MeowMixx RE: wilafur Sep 25, 2007 12:59 PM

                      Bacos. Absolutely delicious inventions.

                2. luswei RE: jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 01:59 PM

                  i hope josef comes to silverlake. we loved opus tasting menus but it was too far to frequent and with the wiltern next door, if there was a concert that night, parking was often a huge headache/long wait.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: luswei
                    jlrobe RE: luswei Sep 25, 2007 02:54 PM

                    I hope he goes to silverlake too. That place needs another place to compliment blairs and canele (atwater village).

                    It would be further for me. I live near palos verdes and brave the drive every weekend to come to where all the action is.

                    How far is opus from Silverlake? 20 minutes?

                  2. Woolsey RE: jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 02:40 PM

                    Update from Eater LA:


                    So it's yes and no.

                    1. s
                      so_hungry RE: jlrobe Sep 25, 2007 03:32 PM

                      so i spent some time chatting with josef recently when i had an event there and here's what i know--

                      he is going to oversee the current "opus" as it transitions into a lighter fare catered more to the immediate surrounding community. he is also phasing out the tasting menu there. if you've gone recently, you'll see that the menu has changed slightly.. it will incorporate more mexican fare, but no beans or rice, etc.. all under his direction.

                      the new location will be josef at his best. whether in silverlake or elsewhere, that is where he is going to focus on fine dining and create the dishes he is known for.

                      he'll be at the new location, but is still very much a part of Opus and its new menu..

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                        Noodlesoup RE: jlrobe Nov 11, 2007 01:00 PM

                        We were so looking forward to Opus after reading and hearing so many good reviews but were very disappointed. Four of us went last night for dinner and waited about 15 minutes before our drink order was taken. Three drinks were served about 10 minutes after placing our order and we were told then that they did not carry the scotch our friend ordered. He then ordered Glenlivet the 2nd time and after several minutes was told they did not have that either. He then ordered a vodka. At that point, I would have expected the waiter to go straight to the bar and return with the ordered drink. Instead he went to a table of six, took their order, stopped by at a table of 4 and then went to the bar. By that time the too-oily tortilla chips were almost gone, so we ordered the 3 dips and more chips. We had to keep reminding our waiter to bring them. The dips were great; chips not so much. We had the yellow tail appetizer which was delicious and the octopus which was plentiful but boring. The slow-cooked pork was very good, but the pasta bolognese was not flavorful at all. Our service during all of this was quite incompetent and we were ready to leave without the usual desert and coffee. When the bill arrived we found a charge of $150 for a glass of scotch that was never served! The waiter never apologized and just adjusted the bill. We have no plans to return.

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