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Nov 9, 2013 07:38 AM

Alma or Allumette, Bestia or Bucato...oh and Orsa & Winston

First trip back to my hometown in over 5 years and planning has been tough. Booked a table at Alma but mixed reviews have me hesitant. Saw the menu and concept at Allumette and was intrigued. Also booked Bestia but unlike Alma it looks like sentiment is universally positive. Bucato caught my eye too but didn't want to have Italian twice during my short stay so looking for opinions on which.

Unrelated, also booked Orsa & Winston. Saw there's 5 and 9 course options. Anyone know if they are different or is 9 course just an extension of the 5?

Lastly, seems like every restaurant I look at is closed Sunday, Monday or both. Any favorites that are open Sunday/Monday?

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  1. Bestia is open Sunday/Monday. Are you looking for another suggestion not already on your list? If so you should take a look at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica. Also open Sunday/Monday for dinner.

    See a CH review here

    1. Alma > Bucato > Bestia > Allumette

      If you already have a table at Alma, consider yourself lucky and go. Please, please, please don't pick Allumette over any of the other choices; it is good on paper but not on your taste buds. Bucato is a close second if you're more in the mood for Italian.

      2 Replies
      1. re: soniabegonia

        Not trying to derail, but what was so bad about Allumette? I keep meaning to go try it. But too many other places keep calling out to me I suppose.

        1. re: Stravinsky

          Every single dish was oversalted, oversauced or overprocessed. And the Asian flavors he tries to incorporate just didn't work at all. For example, the pork dumplings that every review seems to rave about -- they sound good on the menu and are pretty to look at, but the sauce was overly sweet and so salty that my tongue felt like it was burning. And the skin was tough and gummy. It was really not good. And so the evening went -- when we were ordering,we were so excited, but with each dish, our excitement died little by little, and by the final dish, we just wanted to leave. We had planned to get dessert but we just wanted to pay and get the hell outta there.

          It's just not in the same league as Alma. Not even close. It really shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath.

      2. >> Unrelated, also booked Orsa & Winston. Saw there's 5 and 9 course options. Anyone know if they are different or is 9 course just an extension of the 5?

        I think I asked while I was there, but I forget exactly. I don't think it's that the all 5 are within the 9. It might be like 3-4 of the 5 are in the 9 so that the 5-course meal is a little more unique.

        I'd definitely call and ask the restaurant though.

        1. Sonlabegonia already said it, but yes, if you already have a table at Alma you should go. Not sure what mixed reviews you are reading, but there shouldn't really be any.

          As far as Bucato and Bestia, well, it depends what you want to get out of your meal. Do you want to have an absolutely insane experience with bread, pasta, and vegetables? Then I would go to Bucato. Do you want to have a pretty insane meal that includes great pasta, pizza, and large and small plates of meat/fish? Then go to Bestia.

          If you're only in town once, and can afford the splurge, why not get the Chef's Omakase at Orsa and Winston? =D

          From looking at various reviews of people who got the 5 and 9 courses it looks like a few of the courses are different from the 5 and 9, but a few are standards, like the milk bread focaccia.

          1. Are you just looking for opinions on the stuff you listed or other possible options?

            To me, Alma and Allumette do a similar shtick, of which I think Alma executes much better. Bestia and Bucato are both solid choices. Have not been to Orsa & Winston, so can't comment on that. I haven't seen too much feedback, and if I was only in LA for a short time, I really wouldn't want to risk one of my meals on a newbie.

            19 Replies
            1. re: andytseng

              >>To me, Alma and Allumette do a similar shtick, of which I think Alma executes much better.

              This is right.

              >>Bestia and Bucato are both solid choices

              This, I'm not so sure.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                <<This, I'm not so sure.>>

                I am sure. They are both solid choices, IMHO. What's your beef with one of them ipse?

                FWIW, in the Celeb Sighting Dept: Joni Mitchell and Henry Winkler were both celebrating birthdays (separate) this past Sat. at Bucato. Which goes a long way to explaining why I had no shot getting my party of 6 in the door for a 7:30 PM, despite calling at the stroke of 9:30 AM. OTOH, my friend, who told me about the Celeb Sightings, got his party of 4 in by calling at 9:30 AM. They don't have many tables for more than 4 at all.

                1. re: Ciao Bob

                  Sometimes I feel like the kitchen at Bestia forgets that a restaurant should be about serving good food, not about serving good ambiance. Just sometimes, though. Not always.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    You gonna eat that marrow, ipse?

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      i'd agree with ipse. not a big fan of Bestia. the food we had ranged from solid to mediocre with nothing blowing us away. nice ambiance, trendy, hipsters through the roof. good bar and cocktails.

                      but in the end none of us felt like we were in a hurry to return.

                      1. re: chowseeker1999

                        Interesting. What did you order there?

                        The only thing that really made me want to rush back was the Saturday porchetta, which is really more of a suckling pig. With polenta and crispy kale chips.

                        The lamb ragu fusilli is also really good.

                        I am not entirely sure what the standout dishes are they keep people coming back in droves though. It's just generally high-quality stuff, with a hip atmosphere.

                        1. re: Stravinsky

                          See my previous post. I thought the suckling pig "porchetta" was good but not worth ordering again. Several dishes I would consider ordering repeatedly:


                          1. re: Porthos

                            Still waiting for a version of porchetta like this one from Cotogna SF:

                            1. re: Porthos

                              I still remember that photo, from when I was looking for porchetta in a long-ago thread :P

                                    1. re: J.L.

                                      LOL, nope just channeling..... Seriously it is a gorgeous piece of meat....

                              1. re: Porthos

                                That porchetta @ Cotogna is the bomb! Our fave in the US.

                              2. re: Porthos

                                It appears your serving of it lacked crispy skin, which is unfortunate. The serving I had contained a huge amount of super crispy skin. That was the main attraction almost!

                                Agree about the agnolotti though.

                                It seems SF is, indeed, beating us at the Porchetta game. I am not sure why.

                                Someone send that photo to Evan Funke!

                                1. re: Stravinsky

                                  IMO, suckling pig doesn't make for a good porchetta since it lacks the fat to render and baste the loin in the center (note the thick rim of fat in the Cotogna photo) and it's also more difficult to crisp the skin.

                                  For suckling pig, I hope someone in town can take a page from Gaston Acurio and pull one of these (bottom right):

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    Here's my pic of the porchetta from Cotogna. Still dream about it.