Orsa & Winston

I was a bit puzzled walking into Orsa & Winston.  I had heard its Japanese-Italian, which seems like 2 completely disparate cuisines.  I couldn’t imagine how they could merry harmoniously on a plate, let alone in my mouth, but the food this night certainly went far beyond my expectations.  There were definitely elements of Asian and European flavors going on here.  The food was unique and delicious.  The style of dining is omakase, so it’s the chef’s choice.  What you can choose is how many courses: 5, 8, or super omakase at 25!  We opted for the 8.
Amuse Bouche fennel panna cotta

These days, the amuse never really fits the definition of a “one bite” treat from the chef.  I’m not really bothered by that anymore because its just extra food anyways, and who am I to turn down extra food just because the portion size is too big??  I love panna cotta and one of my goals is to learn to make the perfect panna cotta, one that is just perfectly jiggly and most silky soft.  There were definitely some sweet savory flavors going on here.  A delightful first start.

Trout Crudo gingered cucumber gelee, radish, orange, creme fraiche
It looks like salmon huh?  It was both light and refreshing, yet rich and flavorful.  There were so many subtleties with the ingredients and flavor profiles.  One of the more distinctive and memorable crudos.

Sunchoke Custard hedgehog mushrooms

It seemed to be the chef’s take on a chawanmushi if you ask me.  It was silky, savor, with wonderful umaminess tempered by the natural sweetness of sunchokes.  The mushrooms brought some differing texture.

Housemade Heritage Pork Testa

Apparently this was a “bonus” dish, woohoo!  What’s a “testa?”  It’s basically head cheese, made from the cheeks and jowls.  This was an immediate “no go” for Triple T who internally furrows her face at anything fatty and offal.  But she’s still a good sport and always tries a little bit and never says no when you want to order something of that nature.  This was so luscious and rich, a real porky-in-yo-face kinda dish.

Housemade Milk Bread oregano butter

It was a wonder how the prior dish could be served with even more richness with these rolls and butter.  Milk bread is an Asian staple, being soft and oh so doughy.  The chef did an amazing job with these.

Sunchoke Consumé pea tendrils, black truffle and abalone shavings
The lone weak dish in the tasting.  First of all it was a soupy dish served in a dish that was too shallow.  It made scooping up the soup challenging.  And overall the dish seemed a bit underwhelming and bland.  Nothing was wrong per se, it just fell a little flat after all the really awesome prior dishes.
Raviolo ricotta, fresh egg, butter poached maine lobster, nettle pesto
The dinner veered right back on course with this stellar dish.  We all have a visual orgasm when breaking open a raviolo and seeing the golden runny yolk ooze onto the plate.  But unlike other raviolo I’ve had where that is the start of the show, the delicious tender bits of lobster brought an oceany sweetness to a wonderfully crafted dish.  Winner winner!
Confit Japanese Heirloom Tomato charred scallion creme fraiche, braised fava beans, baby corn

The confit tomatoes had such concentrated tomato flavors, being sweet and tangy at the same time.  The fava beans and baby corn were interesting accompaniments.  We again lamented the shallow dish for another soupy course.

Satsuki Rice chinese lettuce, pecorino cream, charred beef, quail egg

Here Japanese met Italian again with this very risotto like dish.  The rice was so delightfully creamy without being too cheesy.  I loved the little bit of protein with the charred beef.  Perfection.

Manchester Squab braised turnip, purple brussel sprouts, cherry blossom puree coco picatta

The squab was a perfect medium rare.  A very strong dish to finish out the savories.

Rhubarb Granita granny smith apple, lavender mint
Rhubarb can be harsh in its acidity, so I think they went a bit the other way making this a tad too sweet.  It still did the job as a palate cleanser.
Crostata Of Green Gage Plums and Blackberries mascarpone, basil puree

Happy birthday to Mama H.o.P!  This crostata was buttery, flakey, comforting, and a wonderful way to end a pretty good meal.

Mignardise black olive sablé

I’m always impressed with savory ingredients are made into sweet treats.  While I don’t usually like olives, I found these tasty treats.

Seriously Orsa & Winston probably has to be, for me, THE stand out LA meal since Tar & Roses.  It’s definitely aiming to be a bit fancier of course, and maybe it should aim even higher.  LA is so short of  really high end fine dining experiences.  The food at Orsa & Winston can definitely stand up to the likes of fancy schmancy Providence and Melisse.  The ambience just falls a little short.  But this place can keep doing what it’s doing and I’ll be perfectly happy.  I’m not sure why other folks haven’t been as impressed.  I would easily come back for the super omakase one day.


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