Chef Josef Centeno of Baco Mercat and Bar Ama just opened his “fine dining” restaurant, Orsa & Winston, right next door to Bar Ama on West 4th Street in downtown Los Angeles. I use the term fine dining loosely because the ambiance was nothing short of a 1980’s big hair rock concert performed by Quiet Riot, Journey, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. As for the food at Orsa & Winston….it could definitely hold its own against The French Laundry, Daniel or Babbo any day.
The 5 course option seemed to fit our appetites best that evening, but the 9 course and “Super-Omakase” – 23 course – sure sounded tempting. Wine pairings are offered with any course you choose and there is an extensive list of Italian wines by the bottle.
We started with an amuse bouche of Mackeral in a Puttanesca oil. The fish was seared lightly with a nice balance of saltiness from the capers and a little heat from red peppers. The bite was refreshing and a great way to jump start the meal.
The next course was our actual first course of Kanpachi with Trophet Mushrooms and Fire Beans. The fish was prepared crudo style with a finely chopped center of mushrooms and an Italian varietal bean close to cannellini beans. The flavors were fresh and flavorful with a slight earthiness which complimented the fish.
The next course was compliments of the chef – a Lightly Coddled Egg with Sherry Cream, Pancetta and a Drizzle of Maple Syrup. The soft egg melted in your mouth and the maple wasn’t too overpowering, but nice with the salty bacon.
Fresh milk rolls and oregano butter arrived thereafter and Tonnato with pickled Japanese Zucchini and drizzle of olive oil for dipping. The bread was soft and perfect to use as a sponge for the dip that tasted almost like a decadent tuna fish sandwich.
Seared Bay Scallop, Ham, Chicory and White Bean in a Garlic Herbal Puree was our next course of the evening. The scallops were small and delicate with the mild aroma of garlic and smoky ham balanced between the bitter greens and soft beans.
Geoduck Clam, Uni and Squid Ink Koshihikari Rice was one of the best and unique combinations of the evening. The rice was mild, but nicely flavored from the ink and the uni on top gave the dish a light sweetness with the seared Geoduck for texture and Pecorino Foam.
Next, Okinawa Sweet Potato Agnolotti with Beef Cheek and Sardo Cheese was both comforting and delicious. The agnolotti were miniscule in size and the beef cheek rich and coated in cheese.
Pomegranate Granita was refreshing and dessert like for a palate cleanser.
The Butterscotch Rosemary Ice Cream with Toffee Chocolate Cake was surely the way to end a perfect meal. Another another scoop please!
The dessert surprise was a tiny Tiramisu for a great finish.
Chef Centeno is not holding back his talents when it comes to Orsa & Winston. The music was a little much, but the food was exceptional. Maybe the way we look at fine dining has changed forever.