Yes, it’s true: Aside from Valentine’s Day, there may be no worse night to dine out in this town than New Year’s Eve. Restaurants are inevitably glutted, menus are invariably prix fixe and management is undoubtedly hoping that the gratis glass of bubbly will help you forget the overworked kitchen’s many mistakes.
Nevertheless, it’s time to welcome in 2012 with a handful of polished exceptions that are sure to disprove the rule. So The Hollywood Reporter is dishing out its top five picks for NYE fine-dining this Saturday night.
Suzanne Goin’s menu is inspired by the famed Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. For $150, guests can expect a five-courser of antipasto, a warm scallop and squid salad with chanterelles, taglioni with lobster amoricaine, herb-roasted rack of lamb with radicchio risotto—and, for dessert, the signature Harry’s torta di zabaglione. 8474 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323.655.6277
2. Red Medicine
There’s a six-course seating starting at 6PM. But the real reason for coming to this neo-Vietnamese vortex is the epic nine-courser available beginning with the 9 o’clock reservation block (at $90 per person). Jordan Kahn doles out everything from heirloom rice porridge with Santa Barbara red uni and ginseng to amberjack with lotus root and tapioca. 8400 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 323.651.5500
Richard Zarate’s talked-about Peruvian room Picca will have a palm reader and live band on hand. $105 per person (not including an optional $25 wine pairing) provides access to the multi-course tasting feast, which runs from shrimp chowder and sea bass escabeche to octopus tiradito and beef stew. Oh, and Pisco shooters too. 9575 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., 310.277.0133
Seven courses, $125 per person, beginning at 8PM: John Sedlar takes patrons on one of his prototypical south-of-the-border culinary journeys, embarking from a serving of house-made potato chips with lobster salsa and proceeding through scallops with maize. The dessert is a modernized take on a classic French bûche de noelfeaturing passion fruit sponge cake. 1050 S. Flower St., L.A., 213.749.1460
OK, so Chinese New Year is actually Jan. 23. But Wolfgang Puck’s ode-to-the-Orient dining mecca is offering a $250 five-course “”Good Fortune” menu that’s worth the head-start. The hot and sour soup boasts sweet prawn wontons. The dim sum includes pork belly dumplings. The roasted Peking-style duckling comes with all of the traditional garnishes. Then, there’s pastry chef Cassie Ballard’s to-be-announced dessert. 900 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A., 213.743.8824