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Sep 25, 2007 09:37 AM

josef centeno leaving OPUS

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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  1. 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

      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

        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. 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

          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

            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

              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

                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

            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

              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

                His former restaurant Meson G exhibited the same qualities.

                1. re: SauceSupreme

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

                  1. re: SauceSupreme

                    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. 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

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

              2. 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

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

                  1. re: Woolsey

                    and listed on the new dinner menu as well.

                    1. re: wilafur

                      Bacos. Absolutely delicious inventions.

                2. 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

                    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?