White tents and red carpet popped up over the weekend, next to Walt Disney Concert Hall, as L.A.’s best chefs and foodies gathered for the 5th annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. With a spoilage of tasty samples, Angelenos indulged and imbibed, celebrating the city’s hottest restaurants. In case you missed it, feed on our picks for the Top 12.
Union: Pasta never looked so sexy. Chef Bruce Kalman turns out a pretty-in-pink torteletti, drizzled with a sauce of lemon, poppyseed and wild fennel. Time to get wild.
Montage Hotel: Impress your date with this delicate fish lying on a bed of purple potato date salad, a kick of jalepeno and ginger yogurt to cool things off. French-born Chef Patrice Martineau knows how to bring it, with global flavors galore.
Clifton’s Cafeteria: Chef Jason Fullilove’s modern and refreshing take on the classic Waldorf with a dreamy avocado puree, saffron-pickled (and raw) apples, walnuts, dates, red grapes, shaved celery, with a few sprigs of microgreens and baby lettuce. Dainty and delicious.
Hot’s Kitchen: Since foie gras is no longer banned in California, Chef Sean Chaney turns out these morsels of foie gras goodness at his Hermosa Beach restaurant. The French delicacy’s rich and buttery characteristics pair well with a pig ear crisp and refreshing citrus from cara cara oranges.
CLM: This could possibly be the best soup on the planet. Heirloom tomatoes have been peeled, seeded and chopped to make a cool concassé with a generous dollop of sweet Dungeness crab on top. Pastry Chef Ben Spungin knows a thing or two about sweets (see dessert slide) and apparently soup too.
Phorage: This little disc of heaven is the perfect crispy bite – topped with shrimp and green onion. Chef Perry Cheung seems to get it right with taste and texture. Hello Vietnam!
FIG Santa Monica: Chef Yousef Ghalaini uses this Indian spice blend to create amazing flavors in his rice bowl with crispy pork belly, charred octopus, pickled onions dusted with sesame seeds and a bold red pepper brightening the plate. Exotic and enticing.
Little Sister: Chef Tin Vuong celebrates the flavors of Southeast Asia with this slightly spicy dish — juicy lemongrass beef presented on vermicelli noodles and greens, topped with shrimp, crushed peanuts, herbs, and a curried crispy pork skin. Cal-Asian fusion is the bomb.
Scarpetta at the Montage Hotel: This may be the king of sandwiches. Chef Freddy Vargas takes a round, soft Italian flatbread and fills it with copa di testa (head cheese), pickled vegetables and salsa verde. We could snack on these all day.
Manhattan Beach Post: Chef David Le Fevre is always on point and one of L.A.’s most beloved chefs. The porky flavor with peach mostarda and escarole is divine. Don’t miss his latest restaurant, The Arthur J, an upscale mid-century steak house by the beach – what’s not to love?
Knife at The Highland: Texas is known for having some big boots to fill and Chef John Tesar fits the bill to at T with his Tex-Mex-Greek take on a fish taco. The green and red salsas and guac smother the swordfish filling, leaving one full and satisfied.
CLM: The tartness of the yuzu granita is startling (in a good way) and the blonde chocolate mousse is a delight to discover inside its fashionably dark round pillow of goodness. Black garlic in a dessert? Chef Ben Spungin can pull it off, adding fresh, luscious strawberries to balance all the sinfully good flavors. Looks too pretty to eat, almost.