Raising the Bar for Urban Latin Cuisine
Living in LA as long as I have, I forget that it is not normal for a four-year-old boy to confidently order Rad Na from a Thai waiter as my friend Charlie does. LA’s multi-cultural vibe does indeed permeate its food scene, leading me to believe that one of the best ways to experience our tourist-challenged town lies in focusing on its food, from haute cuisine to street vendors.
Nothing demonstrates the cultural cross-pollination of the LA dining experience better than the meal I had recently at Playa, John Sedlar’s Melrose area restaurant. Sedlar and his staff prepared a multi-course meal hosted by Milagro Tequila to introduce its newest offering, UNICO. Exquisitely refined Latin cooking with a Southwestern flair has been Sedlar’s calling card for over thirty years. Still, the tapas-style food he served incorporated Greek, Italian, French, Thai, Indian spices and technique without compromising its Latin roots.
While everything I tasted was excellent, here are a few standouts:
Kennebec Potato Chips with Salsa Verde: Why had I never thought to combine these two favorites? So simple, so perfectly prepared.
Spanish Piquillio Peppers stuffed with Gruyere, Golden Raisins and Chorizo: Sedlar’s take on the relleno.
Maize Cake Mediterranean: Lamb meatballs, yogurt, olives and feta wrapped in a homemade tortilla.
Thai Tamilli: Wherein corn masa and shrimp get introduced to some traditional Thai spices such as lemongrass, mint and ginger.
Did I mention that the plating of the food is almost as inventive as the food itself? That the cocktails are as creative as the food? That the people at the bar look like they are having as much fun as the people eating?
Just remember to bring a credit card with a big limit, for your appetite and your bill will be bigger than you expect. Prepare to be amazed.
For more information go to www.playarivera.com
Thank you for updating me as to John Sedlar’s current whereabouts. I have fond memories of St Estephe, and even mentioned John Sedlar, favorably, to a young up & coming chef only 10 days ago.
Now I know where to eat the next time I am in LA.