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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