I had been hearing the reviews about Alma and finally scheduled a date with some friends. After all of the accolades (Best New Restaurant of the Year by Bon Appetit magazine and Ari Traymor being named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2013), I was very excited about this meal.
Alma offers two tasting menus each night – a 5-course tasting menu for $65/person and a larger one (9 courses) for $110/person (+$55/person for wine pairings). We decided to splurge and go for the big tasting menu, and we were ready to see what was on the menu using ingredients grown in their own Flower Avenue garden, as well as local farms that they work with.
Our meal started with little “snacks” – ocean trout, roe and parsnip, mini english muffin with uni, burrata, fennel and roe and tofu and yuzu fritters. The ocean trout was a perfect balance of flavors and textures and the bellini with uni left us wanting more.
The Central Coast – A smoky, salty sturgeon brandade with sweet Dungeness crab meat, tetragon spinach, coastal herbs this evoked the flavors of the west coast. While the portion was small, we loved this first dish.
Frozen duck liver with smoked maple, carrot and coffee granola – The frozen duck liver literally melted in the mouth resulting in a savory notes. The sweet maple cream and the crunch of the granola made the dish a creative combination of sweet, salty, smoky, creamy and crispy, with a hint of coffee on the finish.
Celery Root Soup with whipped lardo, apple and pine
Slowly roasted mishima ranch beef with young turnips, truffled walnut and wasabi – sadly this was the least favorite dish of the night. The meat was described to us by our server as Wagyu beef but the meat was over-cooked and tough, not tender and delicate like other Wagyu beef I have had.
Geranium and meyer lemon sorbet – A perfect palate cleanser that was fragrant, refreshing and tart.
Overall, I wasn’t “wow’d” with the meal. Some of the dishes were creative and the presentation was beautiful but nothing stood out and was rather forgettable (except for the uniqueness of the frozen duck liver). It also didn’t help that the people at the tables around us were complaining that they were still hungry (I wasn’t).
The price was not worth it either. When I spend $110 on a meal, I want to be thinking about the meal afterwards. If I went back, I would only consider the $65 5-course meal as that seems like a better value. Apparently the restaurant heard that others weren’t impressed with the prices as well, as they announced that beginning April 15th, the 9-course tasting menu will be $95.
952 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015