When Vespertine first opened, I was very interested in trying to dine there. But, as I don’t get to Los Angeles that often, I put off making any arrangements for reservations. As time went on, I had heard and read mixed things about the experience. Recently, I decided to plan a trip to Southern California and found it easy enough to include a night in LA. This gave me the chance to try them out. They book through Tock with pre-paid reservations, and like many restaurants, do not make provisions for booking solo diners. I’ve learned to ask, and I discovered that they were open to solo diners. So, I selected a date and time and they sent me a link so that I could make the required pre-payment. Ultimately, a friend decided to join me, so it was easy to add him to the reservation.
The restaurant occupies an entire 4-story building in an “artsy” area of Culver City. As I knew that the experience including dining in various locations, including the roof, I selected an early-evening seating. I hoped for a nice sunset view from the roof of what is sometimes called “The Waffle Building.” When Michelin recently re-rated Los Angeles restaurants in their initial state-wide guide, they gave Vespertine two stars.
Upon arrival, we checked in with a staff person waiting outside in the parking lot/courtyard garden area. We were checked in and shown to some stone-benches in a garden organized into several seating areas. We were offered sparkling birch juice while we waited (we were early).
We were taken inside through the first floor area (shown above) and directed into the elevetor destined for the 3rd floor. We exited and were promptly greeted by the chef standing in front of the kitchen area. He told us a little bit about the restaurant and the dining experience they attempt to create. We were then led to some stairs that took us outside the building to go up to the semi-enclosed roof area.
This panorama shot was taken as we were seated.
We were offered birch juice when we were seated.
We were then asked if we wanted either the alcoholic or non-alcoholic opening beverage. We chose one of each. The alcoholic one was an aromatized white wine that has been infused with the shoots of coastal redwood. The other was similarly composed using a Gewürztraminer grape juice instead.
The first bite had already been sitting in front of us on the table. We each had a tree branch on which Santa Barbara sea lettuce and Monterey giant kelp were hanging (in the form of crisps) and served with a chickpea dip (“chips and dip”). The fermented chickpea was covered with the leaves of Silver Falls dichondra.
The next bite was a savory roasted yeast cookie brushed with black currant spread and garnished with wildflowers. This was inside this ceramic two-piece container. We each took a half.
This bite started with caramelized milk bread wrapped in a “leather” of black garlic and brushed with smoked cheese. On top were slices of king trumpet mushrooms. There was a soft crunchiness and chewiness to the dish, with a savory and slightly sweet flavor.
After these snacks had been served, we were escorted down two floors to the main dining area.
For the full write-up, click here.