Perhaps you have just realized that there are a few days left to go in Restaurant Week, the twice-yearly celebration of Los Angeles restaurants mounted by DineLA, under the auspices of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. Perhaps, like so many Angelenos, you find the list of options a bit overwhelming -- there are more than 300 restaurants involved this time around, each offering special, theoretically lower-priced menus through Friday. Some of the menus are worth it; others not. Here are a few of our picks. And don’t forget to reserve.
Night + Market. Unlike most restaurants, which tend to arrange less-expensive options from their regular menus into fixed-price meals, Night + Market’s $35 restaurant week menu actually offers challenging dishes unavailable the rest of the year, including a Northern-style pork and morning glory curry, an Isaan raw pork liver salad and a special bitter larb. Don’t worry -- you can get party wings and tofu salad instead.
Scarpetta. Scott Conant has managed to build a restaurant empire on a superior version of spaghetti in tomato sauce -- for which he charges $24, a price high enough to induce night sweats. During Restaurant Week, you can fool yourself into imagining that the spaghetti, available as a $12 supplement to the four-course $45 menu, is almost affordable.
Allumette. Is there a giant difference between the four-course $45 Restaurant Week menu and the usual $55 tasting menu? Probably not. But Miles Thompson is a remarkable young chef, and the array of choices lets you taste a lot of things at a fairly reasonable price. Plus, white pumpkin agnolotti with white truffle and beurre noisette.
Scratch|Bar. Phillip Lee’s new modernist-gastronomy bunker is offering six courses of distinct nonclichés for $45. Are you going to love blackened cauliflower, cured pig’s head or "a box full of squid"? It may be a good time to find out.
Bazaar. José Andrés’ baroque, sprawling cocinaplex may or may not be your idea of a palace of earthly delight. But it is hard to argue with five courses of his meticulously prepared Spanish food for $45. When I visit Bazaar, I usually spend more than that on ham alone.
Crossroads. Tal Ronnen is probably one of the better vegan chefs in the country at the moment, and his technical skills, especially with vegan cheese, are kind of mind-blowing. A $35 four-course dinner may be a good way to see if a vegan lifestyle might be for you.
Spago. This year, the list of Restaurant Week promotions includes $85 menus from Cut, Patina, Mélisse, mar’sel, Valentino and Spago. An $85 dinner is not cheap by anybody’s standard, but the Restaurant Week menus do represent a way to experience some of the dearest dining rooms in town. (Mélisse’s lowest-priced tasting menu, for example, is usually $125.) Of the six, the tasting menu at Spago strikes me as an especially good option, a chance to taste some of the restaurant’s best dishes at an almost reasonable price.
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