Los Angeles has become the best food city in the country for chefs to experiment with new ideas.
© Diana Michelson / Courtesy of The Langham Huntington
At the glamorous new restaurant in the just-renovated Langham hotel, chef David Féau (formerly of Café Pinot) offers compelling dishes like roast guinea hen with chestnut milk and caviar. Another benefit of the redesign: a veranda overlooking the spectacular grounds.
© Todd Porter & Diane Cu
When a restaurant moves from a small setting to a grand one, disaster often strikes. Not so for husband-and-wife chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield, who made their modern American menu betterand more ambitious, too. Try the charred Japanese mackerel, served in slices propped up like dominoes, with dried pineapple and fried shallots.
Test Kitchen. © Ryan Tanaka
The experimental-restaurant craze in L.A. is stronger than ever. Ludovic Lefebvre's LudoBites pops up around town with dishes like a soft-shell-crab cone (ludobites.com). Noriyuki Sugi, former chef of New York City's Asiate, oversees Breadbar and hosts visiting chefs who cook anything from soba to Peruvian tapas. And then there's Test Kitchen, where cooks hold court for a night or a week; recent Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio's $69 10-course dinner included his own "Chicken MvNuggets." Test Kitchen is closing temporarily; later this year it will reopen in a new space (testkitchen.com).
Also for L.A. in 2011: a new place from the Animal team and a Latin American small-plates spot from Rivera's John Sedlar.
The city's dining scene has been supercharged since NomaRené Redzepi's tiny Nordic spot with a focus on foragingstarted showing up at the top of world's-best lists. Now other local chefs are taking advantage of the spotlight.
© Claes Bech Poulsen
To locals, this is Geranium 2.0. The restaurant was originally set in a romantic part of the Royal Gardens; it reopened last August on the eighth floor of an office building. Chef Rasmus Kofoed's thrilling menu includes monkfish "with elements of the beach and ocean" (mussel jelly, mussel juice and herbs and flowers from a local beach). For those who want to try it all, the Totale Universe pairing menu is $650 per person.
© P-A Jörgensen
Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossena sous chef and waiter at Noma, respectivelyopened Relæ last summer. There are two menus: The vegetarian one might include broccoli with parsley puree; another has dishes like veal hearts with pepper sauce. Each costs $60, one of the best deals in Copenhagen.
© Mette Helbaek
The trendy White Meat (meatpacking) district now houses Kødbyens Fiskebar. Chef Martin Bentzen's specialty is local seafood like brown butterbaked North Sea hake with Danish potatoes. Tanks of glowing jellyfish fill the space, but the concrete floor and white tiled walls recall its slaughterhouse origins.
© Thomas Ibsen
Chef Jasper Kure is good at bistro classics, like grilled entrecote steak with herb butter. He also offers quintessentially Danish open-face sandwichesfried herring on ryeat lunch, and at dinner, creative Nordic dishes like air-dried duck with smoked cream cheese. The setting is idyllic: the Royal Gardens (in the former Geranium space).
Adventurous young chefs are going beyond the farmers' market and traveling deep into the Amazon to discover exotic new ingredients.
© Gosella Benavides
Peru's superstar chef Gastón Acurio jumped in to mediate when a zoning dispute shut down Central last year. Soon the restaurant was open again. Acurio wanted to help 33-year-old chef Virgilio Martinez, who is redefining Peruvian cooking using lessons learned from more than 10 years of working in top kitchens around the globe (including Acurio's). Among his best dishes: sea bass in a crab-and-shrimp reduction.
© Nassin Mubarak
Set in a 1900s mansion, Amor Amar has a well-hidden entrance (look for the valets on the street) and an art gallery. The menu is divided into haute versions of Peruvian classics like causas (a layered potato casserole) and fusiony dishes such as duck risotto in ají amarillo (a hot yellow chile).
Courtesy of Orient-Express
Even locals don't know some of the Amazonian ingredients Argentinean chef Federico Ziegler uses in his French-influenced cooking. Ziegler bakes paiche (a giant Amazonian fish with a meaty texture), topping it with a fava-and-mango vinaigrette and shrimp oil.