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Restaurants & Bars 3

Opus - at the Wiltern

Jack Flash | May 5, 200507:12 PM

Had dinner last weekend (yeah, it's taken me a while to post) at the new Opus bar & restaurant in the Wiltern building (occupying the space that used to house the Atlas Bar & Grill, I believe).

I won't go into details about the physical space (kinda dark/industrial modern, with these really HUGE chairs, and I mean HUGE like something out of Alice in Wonderland), and limit my comments to the chow.

The menu is wide-ranging and fairly ambitious. About 6-8 first courses (some of which sound like miniature versions of a couple of the mains), and an equal number of salads. Prices range from about $10 to $16 for these starters.

We started with a special salad of mixed greens (impeccably fresh - probably from the farmers market that day) very lightly dressed in a vinagrette, with fresh pitted cherries and some slices of prosciutto. I didn't ask what kind of prosciutto it was, but it was high grade. It had that intense prosciutto flavor (not just salty) that is often missing. Also topped with a little crostini (sp?) with warmed goat cheese. This salad was $10, I believe, and was sufficient for two to share.

The cherries were a nice sweet touch that balanced well with the flavors of the other ingredients.

There are two types of main courses- grilled meats & fish, and prepared dishes. My GF had a rack of lamb from the grill side of the menu. At $28, it wasn't cheap, but was a much larger serving that you usually see with lamb. The rack consisted of about 8 pieces. A really ample serving. I almost never order lamb at restaurants because I need two orders to get my fill; this would have been enough for me. Grilled items are served a la carte (except for some greens) - no side dishes. Ordered a side of pommes puree (mashed potatoes) which were at once creamy, yet also a bit more grainy than usual (this was not a bad thing).

I had a nightly special, which was suckling pig that had been roasted or braised (I forget) the day before, then finished in a pan to get the skin all crispy. Was served with an onion marmalade, and topped with a slice of Asian pear that had been cooked in a Riesling-based sauce.

This was absolutely fabulous. The meat was soft, melt-in-your mouth tender without being mushy. Loaded with flavor.

Had to go to a concert next door, so we didn't have time for dessert. Pity.

Had a bottle of a 2000 French burgundy (some Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I forget which). It wasn't the cheapest bottle of wine at $54, but was definitely on the lower end. They have a large wine list; looked like almost everything red was $45 or more, and several bottles in triple digits (and a couple in quadruple digits).

Service was very professional - wine & water glasses filled without asking, a butter knife that left with the salad plate was replaced without prompting.

Overall, a good experience. But it was expensive. I think our bill for one salad, two mains and the wine (no dessert, coffee or cocktails) was close to $115 before tax & tip. That's a lot of money, to me anyway. In other words, it's not an inexpensive pre-theater meal. I don't know if a place like this can make it at that location, at those prices.

But that suckling pig was incredible.

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