Bohemian

57 Great Jones St. New York, NY 10012 •  playearth.jp

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Similar to RAO’s, Bohemian enjoys a frustrating, yet cool exclusivity. You can’t just make a reservation. First you need to have already been here. But how is that possible? It’s like the chicken and egg quandary.

Simply put, you have to be invited by someone who was once invited themselves. So, now the big question is whether or not it’s worth all of the cavorting to get in.

Maybe. If you get off on feeling special and in the know, Bohemian easily checks that box as you walk down its long, nondescript hallway, past the butcher shop that faces the street, only to arrive upon a frosted glass door with a buzzer on it. You ring it and wait. Then, someone answers and asks if you have a reservation, and only after confirming the name will they buzz you in. It’s like the restaurant version of an underground sex dungeon. Not that I would know anything about that, but now I’m probably going to have quite the time convincing the wife of that.

Unfortunately, if you are going for the food, it doesn’t quite live up to expectations. Especially when you compare it to other elusive Asian-American fusion hotspots like Momofuku Ko or Pearl & Ash.

We started with the array of garden vegetables and fondue, served in a purposefully rustic bucket of ice next to a flaming ramekin of fondue. It seemed reminiscent of the way a meal starts at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, only Blue Hill actually manages to pull it off. These veggies were nothing of the sort. Quite tasteless actually. Thankfully the fondue resuscitated them as they were in desperate need of the due.

The oysters were good, but raw oysters are more a dimension of sourcing than they are culinary cred.

The “mini” burgers (pictured), while not all that mini were perfectly cooked and among the highs. But not anywhere near an Ultimate.

Another strong player was the bacon served with a gigantic honey, raisin crostini, which was key. Because once you put that salty bacon on that sweet crostini you know happiness is the truth.

And last but not least, the branzino. Probably the best thing of the night, but specifically VERY familiar to me as it is prepared in an extremely similar manner as a Jamie Oliver recipe that we make at home all the time, which I love. It’s baked with a medley of vegetables and in Bohemian’s case, with roasted garlic as well. It’s very good, but because I have it all the time at home, it was hard for me to get too excited about it.

I wish I had more jubilant praise to report, but when you are pulling in 4.5 knives on Yelp and closing your door to the masses, I think you have to be held to a higher standard. And currently, that standard is too high for Bohemian.

3 teeth

Animal

435 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036 • (323) 782-9225 • animalrestaurant.com

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I think the only way to describe Animal’s menu is “gourmet stoner food.” No joke. Throw everything you know about food out the window should you choose to dine here. The combinations going on in virtually every dish seem like they were thrown together by a crazy man. Crazy like a fox. Because they work like gang busters. Foie gras biscuits with maple gravy? What?! Are you kidding? No- it’s friggin’ genius! As is the steak smothered in parm truffle fondue. Even the bacon brittle for dessert.

The grilled octopus is also amazing, as are the calf brains and the lamb cavatelli. And one bite of the pork belly sliders and you’ll see god. Or whichever deity you worship. Also, one more dessert to add to my list of lovin’, the tres leche is just punch yourself in the face killer. Oh, and the sticky toffee bread pudding aint too shabby either- I guess at this point it’s safe to say that this is my favorite restaurant in LA. And top ten worldwide. Ballsy, I know, but I promise it lives up to the hype.

Also, one of the better selections of wines by the glass (as opposed to bottle) should you be the one driving home afterwards.

P.S. Skip the Poutine. Not sure why people rave about it amidst SO many better dishes.

5 teeth