My Top dineLA Restaurant Week Picks for Winter, 2013: January 21 – February 1

Braised Beef Cheek, Taleggio Pureed Potatoes, Chanterelles

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Also, what a joyous second inauguration day. In this case, it also means the very first day of dineLA Restaurant Week. If you haven’t, already, you best be making your reservations right now – or better yet, take advantage of your day off and find your prix fixe destination for lunch today.

I’ve done a bit of perusing the incredibly extensive list of restaurants and their offered menus around the city and came up with a few categories that struck me. With 3-course prix fixe as the standard, here are some standout menu offerings the week starting today, Monday, January 21 – Friday, February 1:

Best Opportunity to Try New Chef at Venue

Not new chefs by any definition (in fact, the tenure of this group is impressive especially by L.A. standards) – just new venues.

I associate my first experiences with potted rillettes, headcheese and pates in L.A. with Remi Lauvand, and he’s now at Le Ka, having just opened last September. Downtown workers can get their feet wet on the $25 lunch menu, but interesting dinner menu items include escargot cavatelli, lamb’s tongue and scallops with lentils and chicken skin – some things that may be too good to pass up.

With Vartan Abgaryan now serving at a venue in possession of one of the most enviable patios in Silver Lake, I can’t help but simply displace the delicious plates he was just serving at Public Kitchen & Bar and imagine them enjoyed in outdoor dim lighting surrounded by foliage. Sure, he’s changed up a few things, but I’ve always been a fan of his octopus.

Just a week ago, IDG’s RivaBella just started serving dinner in its brand-new, 8,000 square foot space, basically the antithesis of Angelini Osteria. You’ll have to settle for lunch if you want to do Restaurant Week here, but if Gino Angelini’s pasta (such as a green pappardelle in ragu) is part of the 3-course offering, that will always do.

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Afternoon Tea at Tres by José Andrés, SLS Hotel

Tea Time

There are ladies who lunch and ladies who have afternoon tea. My experience at Tres inside the SLS Hotel has convinced me that there need to be more of the latter.

TGT Green Teaist Blend

If you’re able to fit time in with your girlfriends sometime in between the slim, 2-hour daily window, you’re in for a real treat. Tres has beautiful tea selections to accompany your charming 3-tier pastry stand decorated with tiny titillations for your tongue.

Whether it’s a steamed bun filled with caviar and topped with crème fraîche, a peanut butter jelly sandwich made with (not only the best peanut butter I’ve ever had, but also) brioche flatbread or a foie gras sandwich with quince (swappable with a smoked salmon sandwich with coconut), each bite is a treat for the senses.

My favorite was one that my girlfriend Chris and I were instructed to eat right away, lest the delicate cookie melt - a beet macaron filled with goat cheese. Its sweet, savory and yet tart goodness simply melted in my mouth.

Guacamole Cone, Bagel & Lox Cone

The tea, of course, is an appropriate centerpiece. I chose a The Green Teaist Blend, a variety that is apparently drunk by much of the kitchen at Tres. It’s of a beautiful color and really elegant – much smoother than other green teas I’ve had. Our server came by often to fill our cups and make sure everything was up to par.

Definitively the most wallet-friendly way to experience the luxe Tres dining room (or SLS Hotel at all), the Phillip Starck-designed ambiance at tea is guaranteed to soothe. Travel and other books, fireplaces and translucent glass stag heads line the well-lit library-themed lounge adorned with light brown hues. The furniture has just-kitschy-enough details (silver AK47 standing lamps, anyone?) to pique intrigue; thankfully, they stop just short of gaudiness.

Afternoon tea at Tres is an elegant way to catch up with friends while enjoying some savory and sweet tastes. Sit back on the comfortable couches and enjoy tea inside the lovely space at Tres. As for me, I can’t wait until my out-of-town girlfriends come to visit LA again; Tres will be where we catch up.

Afternoon tea was hosted.

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3 – 5 PM daily

$32 per person ($36 with The Green Teaist tea selection)

Tres
inside SLS Hotel
465 S. La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
310.246.5551