I had missed out on Chef John Rivera Sedlar‘s stint at Test Kitchen LA last September and his “Playa Preview”. I was intrigued by this celebrated chef’s culinary background and was eager to experience his cuisine dubbed “urban latin”, an interesting marriage of Mexican, Latin American and Spanish flavors. When I received the e-vite for a chance to preview Playa’s menu the night before its official grand opening, I jumped at the chance without hesitation. Unfortunately, my reservation was not received for the preview event (due to an error on my part) but I was able to secure a reservation for opening night.
Our reservations were for 7:00pm and we arrived on time, despite the busy Friday night traffic on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood. Playa is located in the space that was formerly Grace and valet parking ($6.50) is available. The space is open, airy and boasts high ceilings with pendant-style lighting and tumbleweed-like shades. Rows and rows of various liquor were displayed on lighted shelves that went all the way up to the ceiling. A library-style ladder allowed bartenders to reach their liquor(s) of choice quickly and easily.
But I’m here for Playa’s urban latin cuisine that I’ve read and heard so much about. The ambiance was a plus and I am easily seduced by beautiful surroundings. I just hoped the food would not disappoint.
I had a light lunch so I was pretty hungry by the time we arrived for dinner. We started out by ordering cocktails. Playa’s artisanal cocktails are playful and inventive. At $13 a pop, you can enjoy uniquely concocted beverages such as A Oaxacan in the Clouds: Mezcal, Roasted Farm Tomatoes, Crispy Sage and Pimenton D’espellete or the Survival Guide: XO Amagnac, Calvados, Miele de Corbezzolo, and Creole Bitters. Hubby and I decided to order the Pear Blossom Highway, a delicious blend of Pisco, Clear Creek Pear Eau de Vie, Yellow Chartreuse, Citrus, and Bartlett Pears and the Two Moon July made with Bourbon, Grape Coulis, Amaro Medley, Grains of Paradise, Paradise, and Tonic. The Pear Blossom Highway was crisp, cool and citrusy; and the Two Moon July made a statement with its smooth bourbon flavor.
Halfway through the meal we ordered another cocktail to share, The Grail–Bonded Apple Brandy, Fresh Pressed Lady Apples, Spanish Red, Don’s Mix, and Apple Espum and garnished with an apple “chip”. When I first tried the cocktail, the first thought that popped in my head was McDonald’s Apple Pie. Not a bad thing. The drink was pretty good but that’s what it tasted like to me and hubby agreed.
We began with a cool appetizer and a warm appetizer. The cool appetizer was the Octo-Palm:grilled octopus, palm hearts, scallions, oven-dried cherry tomatoes and green onion. Simply delicious. The octopus was super tender and the flavors melded so well together. The warm appetizer was the Tamalli Chateaubriand: wild mushroom duxelles dumpling, filet mignon and chipotle bernaise. Put simply, a medium-grilled filet mignon served with a wild mushroom tamale and a wonderful chipotle bernaise. This should be an entree–it was so good.
After the wonderful appetizers, we were looking forward to dinner. We decided to order (and share) the Pan-Seared Loup de Mer with maitre d’ butter and served with five sauces: romesco, chimichurri, verde, aji amarillo, aji panca; and the Twice-Seared Duck with garbanzo creme, pepitas, white and black sesame, and blood orange olive oil. The Twice-Seared Duck was our favorite, tender slices of duck fanned over creamy garbanzo…sooooo good! The Pan-Seared Loup de Mer was okay. I wasn’t wowed by it but I did like how they plated the dish, “painting the sauces onto the plate”. I just wished they had given us a bit more sauce.
On to dessert! We decided to try two. The Pastel Cafe–mocha sponge, espresso creme, a toffee honeycomb, and colombian chocolate ice cream. The mocha sponge was actually crumbled on the plate, the toffee honeycomb sticky and chewy, and it had a “surprise” element. There was a chocolate bonbon on the plate (at least that what I thought it was). Our server poured warm chocolate over the bonbon which broke it open to reveal fresh raspberries inside.
I wanted to try a non-chocolate option and ordered the Flora Y Terra: vanilla cake, strawberries, pomegranate, candied chiles piquillos, srawberry-anise sorbet and cava consomme. I loved how fresh and light this dish was. This was actually my favorite between the two (and I’m a BIG chocoholic)! Note: the photo came out overexposed so I chose not to include it in this post.
Overall, it was an enjoyable evening. We met and chatted with a wonderful couple sitting next to us (Stephanie and David) from West Hollywood. They suggested other restaurants to try that were some of their favorites, further extending my long list of places to try!
Playa is a bit pricey but it’s a great place to go for a special occasion or on a romantic date. For me, it didn’t disappoint!
7360 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Sun – Wed: 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Thu – Sat: 5:30 pm – 1:00 am