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Counter: Museum food and lots of dessert

If you're reading this, you survived your Super Bowl party and have probably been out sourcing for Valentine's Day on Sunday — which some of us consider an excellent reason to eat as much very good chocolate as is reasonably possible. So this week, we've been going to a lot of chocolate shops, patisseries and bakeries, in search of chocolate layer cake, thousands of macarons at Bottega Louie's giant kitchen and bean-to-bar chocolate.

There isn't a macaron factory at Otium, Tim Hollingsworth's restaurant next to the new Broad museum in downtown L.A., but there's pretty much everything else. Jonathan Gold checks out what might be the most ambitious restaurant opening of the last year, a gorgeous space where the chef is cooking myriad styles, all at the same time. Haute cuisine and shwarma, crudo and funnel cakes. What else did we discover this week? Oh: secret ramen. You're most welcome.

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Museum-worthy cooking

The deconstructed "pastrami" in a <em>donabe</em> pot at Otium.
The deconstructed "pastrami" in a donabe pot at Otium. (Christina House / For The Times)

This week Jonathan reviews Otium, Tim Hollingsworth's restaurant next to downtown L.A.'s new Broad museum. Here the French Laundry alum is playing with everything: French and American and Middle Eastern, an open fire and a very open kitchen, even funnel cakes. It's an important opening, a mishmash of styles and techniques, a deeply ambitious restaurant that serves the museum crowd — and weekend brunch.

What to drink at Otium

The wine cellar at Otium. Sommelier Elizabeth Huettinger has a knack for selecting high-acid wines that pair well with modern cuisine.
The wine cellar at Otium. Sommelier Elizabeth Huettinger has a knack for selecting high-acid wines that pair well with modern cuisine. (Christina House / For The Times)

If you're wondering what to drink with all that multicultural food at Otium, wine writer Patrick Comiskey helps you out, as he reviews Otium's extensive wine list. Wine director Elizabeth Huettinger is spanning old and new world varieties in the two-story, above-ground cellar, which you can see from the dining room and which has its own library ladder.

The macaron factory

Macarons are displayed at the Bottega Louie restaurant, across the street (and above ground) from its pastry kitchen, in downtown Los Angeles.
Macarons are displayed at the Bottega Louie restaurant, across the street (and above ground) from its pastry kitchen, in downtown Los Angeles. (Christina House / For The Times)

Ever wondered where all those macarons and baroque pastries at Bottega Louie are made? Well, cross the DTLA street and take an elevator down, and you'll find a subterranean dessert factory that Roald Dahl would have admired enormously. Food editor Amy Scattergood checks out the production kitchens, where thousands of macarons are made every day, starting at 3:30 in the morning. Just in time for Valentine's Day.

An apartment chocolate factory

David Menkes, who owns and operates LetterPress Chocolate with his wife, Corey, was a graphic designer for many years before becoming a chocolate-maker.
David Menkes, who owns and operates LetterPress Chocolate with his wife, Corey, was a graphic designer for many years before becoming a chocolate-maker. (David Menkes)

Think of a chocolate factory and you might think Hershey's or Valrhona — but probably not a two-bedroom, 900-square-foot apartment in Cheviot Hills. Yet that's where David and Corey Menkes make their LetterPress bean-to-bar chocolate, 60 bars a day that they produce in their laundry room, kitchen and living room. It's amazing stuff, sourced from Central and South American beans and wrapped in, sometimes, actual stamps.

Secret ramen and burgers

Head upstairs at the Katsuya at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, and you'll find, of all things, a hidden ramen, burger and beer joint. Why? Why not, says deputy Food editor Jenn Harris. According to Katsuya, it's more of a test run than a pop-up, although they're calling it that. Any excuse to slurp ramen works for us.

Himalayan cuisine

Food writer Linda Burum checks out Himalayan Café in Baldwin Park, where chef Uttham Adhikari is turning out several Newari-inspired festival dishes at his newest location. One of the new specials, Choila, is among the Internet's most clicked-on Nepali recipes. There are also dumplings — regional variations of xiao long bao.

Jonathan Gold's 101 

Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, the authoritative annual guide to local dining, is online for subscribers.

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