29 December, 2010

The Duchess Dines . . .

Rivera
1050 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, California  90015
http://www.riverarestaurant.com/ 
Tel.:  213.749.1460

We had an excellent meal last night at Rivera.  The Duchess had been before, a number of times, last year; perhaps that was the restaurant's public heyday.  It has taken it this long, in her opinion, to iron out the kinks.  Of course, the food has always been delicious.  But the service (lacking) and the attitude (excessive) were notable detriments.  No longer. 


We began with small plates of equadorian crudo (yellowtail with kumquats and fresno chilies) and skewers of sea bass (finished with clementine and frisee), followed by the tamal (braised pork short rib)  and piquillos rellenos (poblano peppers stuffed with sausage, gruyere, and golden raisins).  As a complement we ordered the steaming hot tortillas florales (tortillas pressed with flowers and herbs) and "Indian butter" (made from pureed avocado).  And finally, at one server's urging, we ordered -- and devoured -- the exceptional sweet corn flan with black quinoa and a squash blossom sauce.  It was plate-scrapingly yummy. 


Launched by John Rivera Sedlar, Rivera ushers in a new standard for modern Latin cuisine in Los Angeles, and is the perfect upscale partner to all those mouth-wateringly good taco trucks and stands one finds around the city.  While there is no need to reinvent that wheel (visit Loteria Grill, Tacos Por Favor, or El Cholo for exemplars of the basics, including everyone's favorite margarita), Rivera creatively executes interpretation of Latin flavors, ingredients and techniques in an inventive yet accessible way.  


The restaurant is also well-designed by Eddie Sotto of Sottostudios/LA.  


Mr. Sotto designed Rivera's trademark "tequila" chair, shown below in the Samba section of the restaurant atop a floor of Brazilian bamboo.  


P.S.:  For those of you still vacationing (or quasi-vacationing) for the holidays and looking to see a terrific film, the Duchess has two words for you:  "True Grit".  


About the much-discussed "Black Swan", the Duchess has only one word:


Toilet.

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