Postcard From Tom: Los Angeles
After a couple of lackluster seasons, Los Angeles is once again a great place to dine. Here are some highlights from my recent fact-finding mission:
A.O.C. (8022 W. Third St., 323-653-6359 )
Our waitress explains the restaurant's philosophy: "It's not traditional courses, but infinite grazing." Diners are encouraged to order an array of appetizer-size plates, then share the Mediterranean-inspired food as it's ready. There's much to praise: pork rillettes, beets and carrots seasoned with cumin, sherry-laced clams and roasted dates with Parmesan. The initials? They stand for Appellation d'Origine Controlee, the French regulatory system that ensures the quality of local wines and cheeses. Small plates $5 to $14.
PATINA (141 S. Grand Ave., 213-972-3331)
This downtown address is significant for several reasons. One, it's the scene for the dramatic new Walt Disney Concert Hall. Two, the space plays host to celebrity chef Joachim Splichal's recently relocated Patina, celebrating 15 years as one of the city's top dining destinations. Finally, whether inside the sleek dining room or out on the patio, you'll dine very well. Recent must-tries ran to fresh crab nestled with green papaya in a martini glass and wild salmon lapped with yogurt sauce. Dinner entrees $31 to $39.
SONA (401 N. La Cienega Blvd., 310-659-7708)
Starkly modern, the dining room is not much to look at -- but that's intentional. Chef David Myers and his wife and pastry chef, Michelle, would prefer that you keep your eyes on the plates. Their elegant handiwork defies easy labeling but incorporates French technique and the best of what's in season. Expect the likes of gazpacho with artichokes and cucumber jelly, duck with braised cherries and plums, and crepes made special with boysenberries and a sorbet flavored with celery leaf. Six-course tasting menu $79.