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Sona Restaurant


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David Myers formerly of Jaan's restaurant at the L'Ermitage hotel in Beverly Hills has opened a restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard that is nationally competitive. On walking into the Sona restaurant I felt that I had left L.A. behind and entered an austere yet aesthetic continental establishment. This change of attitude is most welcome considering its location 2 doors north of nude dancing and across the street from Trashy Lingerie. The attentive though un-intrusive service only furthered the feeling that I was on the right track to finding a continental experience in L.A..

The dinner was extraordinary. Two dishes were memorable and would have met my standards for a 3 star restaurant: squash soup with clams and chai froth, and cod cooked with a squid ink and truffle oil infusion [matched to Romanee Conti 76]. The intensity and merging of the soup flavors was unexpected and delicious. The fish was uniquely firm, cooked and moist. The duck course [matched to Petrus 75] was also excellent being prepared from Liberty Farms provisions in a way that was tender yet roast beef like in its color and appearance. It came with an unusual yet matched eggplant and wasabe, hiijiki sauce. The chocolate-brioche-pudding desert was first rate, but what enhanced the good continental feeling of being in a major restaurant was the post desert of 4 more sweet flavors to try.

When David Myers was cooking at L'Ermitage a particularly memorable dish was blue fin tuna with truffles and an uni sauce.

David Myers' ability to make sense out of a spectrum of ingredients is creative and unique for L.A. and, according to Michael Steinberger, the US. In the Financial Times [Feb 2, 02] he says that "the meal I had at the L'Ermitage topped anything I've eaten at Trotters".

Tasting menus can be obtained for about $65. I prefer to have larger sized portions which raises the price to about $85 per person. Corkage [$15] is extremely reasonable at the moment.

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In reply to lizziee's inquiry, the wines were from my cellar. The 76 Romanee Conti was a pleasant surprise , as I have been generally disappointed with the 76DRC's. But the 76 R.C. was totally titillating with an enjoyable sweetness. The real stuff, which to my amazement intensified in the glass, even the color got deeper with time! The 75 Petrus was a giant wine which is finally ready to drink. Five years ago it was great for 15 minutes and then closed up. We also enjoyed a 75 La Mission Haut Brion that was stunning. The blue fin tuna was deliscious, lemony and firm and if you closed you eyes the uni-truffle sauce was a creamy delight. On that occassion we had a magnificent green papaya and lobster soup where the acid sweetness of the papaya beautifully matched the sweet tenderness of the lobster. A total 3 star dish that I returned to have on 3 occassions. The best match for this was a 75 Yquem. David Myers is an artist and it took some pressure to get him to make this dish a second and third time.

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sound,

Thank you so much. We have reservations this Saturday. I am so looking forward to a dining experience. Any other must haves from the menu? Should we just say "cook - we'll eat." Does David Meyers like to do full-out tasting menus? We will take our own wines - usually we do a champagne, a white and a red. Our preference is for Burgundy - yes or no? Thanks for your help.

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Good morning Lizzie and Sound. Thank you for your encouraging words about Sona. I too went last night with a total of 8 people. We had the 9 course tasting menu. David Myers ability to blend flavors is scrumptious and reaches to one's subliminal stommach. I have had the pleasure of eating in some European restaurants where the service is perfect and unseen but at the ready. We in southern California finally have service that reminds me of Europe. They didn't miss a beat. The bar though a little crowded was cosey,warm and in tune with our needs while waiting for our group to meet. We sat at a round table which made everyone feel part of our experience. Our first taste was a large spoon incredibly holding an interesting combination of peruvian purple potato, salmon belly/ sturgen and burrata. The flavors were distinct yet melded together without any overwhelming any other. The next taste was sashimi of white Morrow Bay tuna with thin slices of citrus in bood orange and ginger sauce. Hidden under was an oyster which together with the whole, coated my mouth with a seamingly velvet and pleasantly course texture at the same time. With the above tastes we had 1996 Bannockburn Chardonnay from Geelong Australia. It was perfect time to drink and continued to intensify with added complexities the longer it was open. The next was Moroccan squash soup which had a chai foam floating on top and herbed spaetzle pieces underneath. The flavor of the squash was mild and allowed the foam and the spaetzle to show through. The next was a real wow dish. Simple sounding but heavenly exciting in my mouth. Confit of salmon that was sooo tender and smooth that I wished it was 10 times the size. It was combined with english peas, parsnip puree and tarragon. The slight sweetnes of the peas complimented perfectly the smoothness of the salmon. With the above 2 courses we had 1995 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay from Western Australia Margret River area. This had a finish that seemed to last and last. It showed an elegance and reminded me of a Corton Charlemagne.It was perfect with the dishes. The European Cod had an interesting use of very palatably pleasing intense flavors of junper-infused red cabbage, cumin scented butternut squash. I was surprised how well the flavors worked even though they were intense. The 1997 Tement Zieregg Sauvignon Blanc from Austria went well probably helped by the slight maderisation.The wine was interesting though this bottle should have been drunk a couple of years ago. Our next taste was Liberty Farm duck breast done to perfection, rare, with chunks of chestnuts in chestnut confit with walnuts and beluga lentils. There was also a delicious, cooked perfectly piece of foie gras. The dish was scrumptious with the 1990 Gevrey Chambertin Combe aux Moines from Philip Le Clerc whith big fruit in the mouth and a finish that went on for at least 30 seconds and became bigger the longer it was open. The beef rib eye was amazingly tender and perfectly medium rare. Being served on the same plate as the rich marrow and herb crusted short rib allowed one's emotion to enjoy both without one being too strong or too weak. A great combination with the two wines we opened. 1997 Killibinbin shiraz from Langhorn Creek in South Australia and 1994 Orion Red Blend by Sean Thackery California. Thackery does not divulge the grape variety he uses but it has a lot Syrah I'm sure. These two wines were each intense and beautifully balanced. They showed richness, smoothness velvety feel throughout my mouth. The combination with the food was perfection. Yes there was room for desert. Michelle, Davids wife is an extraordinary pastry desert chef. Sometimes one goes to a restaurant and has a desert that really pleases you but to have so many different and absolutely heavenly tastes makes you realize how tempted your brain can be. How do you think this tastes? English sticky toffee pudding, bannanas, butterscotch sauce and milk jam ice cream. The milk jam ice cream is a reduction of milk that is excruciatingly good. Each of the flavors were soooo delicious that I can still taste them as I am typing this. Another desert was Brown Betty spiced sour cherries with olive oil ice cream. The cherries tasted like wild intense and delicious cherries. An almost palate cleansing desert was a blood orange sorbet, tangerine froth in a prosecco granita. Salute to the Myers for finally opening and carrying out what Los Angeles has been crying out for for a long time. I was pleased that it was packed last night and even though it may mean that reservations may become difficult by telling everyone I would rather have Sona stay available. Go while you can still get a reservation.

" Food and Wine Fanatic"

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carpet bagger,

A scrumptious post!!!!

I absolutely agree with you that Los Angeles has been crying out for this type of restaurant. This is a real find and exemplifies fine dining at its best.

A double thanks to sound for encouraging carpet bagger and myself go to Sona.

One of the things I was most impressed with was David Meyer's excitement to "cook" for people who really want to eat fine food. When I said to him that we were excited to be there, he said he was equally excited to have us there and be able to cook for us.

We have reservations next week!

One question, carpet bagger. I assume the wines were from your cellar. Did they keep the corkage at $15 per bottle?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lizziee, Good morning. You mentioned you were going back last week to Sona. How was it? What did you drink? You also mentioned in another section that La Folie in SF is too over the top for you. How long has it been since you were there? I happen to like a bit over the top but I was there late last year and I felt Rolland has changed in such a way as to benefit you. Much less intense but still hugely flavourful and incredibly complex flavours that work impecably together. His sauces are delicious. May I suggest you try again. Back to LA have you ever been to 2117 on Sautelle in W LA? Love to hear what your experience was like.

" Food and Wine Fanatic"

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I apologize for the long wait on my last meal at SONA but I have been "on the road."

We went to SONA on Feb. 15 and unfortunately we were inundated by a large post Valentine's Day crowd who were "clueless" or what you might describe as "amateur night" diners.

In spite of this, we were treated as special guests from the moment we walked in when the hostess greeted us by name and said how happy she was to see us to the last when Chef Meyers met us in the lounge area for a wrap-up commentary on the evening and exchange of "who's doing what around town."

Chef Meyers is truly an extraordinary chef who prides himself on searching out stellar ingredients and cooking with passion as well as restraint.

Amuse - Ebi shrimp with blood orange and ginger served in a soup spoon

1st course - Big eye tuna with Daikon, pea shoots and pickled cucumber with an uni, wasabi sauce. The uni sauce added a wonderful full note to the tuna and the touch of wasabi gave the dish the necessary heat.

2nd course - on a large round plate squid, prawns and sweetbreads were arranged on a bed of immature pine nuts with fennel fronds. I can't remember the exact saucing, but my notes mention that this disparate group of ingredients rather than resulting in disharmony was perfectly balanced.

3rd course - Halibut and mussels in a watercress broth and foam surrounded by tapico. I am not sure what tapico is but we ate around it as it was very gluey in consistency and taste and did not enhance the perfectly cooked fish. (In retrospect, I might have meant tapioca, but I am not sure.)

Our server was not very helpful and he tended to make up ingredients when he didn't have a clue.

4th course - for an example of the above and why I was unsure what tapico was, our server described our next dish as European cod with juniper infused red cabbage. What we actually had was Black Cod from Holland with rabbit sauce enhanced by Moroccan flavors with cumin, coriander carrots and Moroccan squash. Again what sounds like too many flavors destroying the broth was actually just the right amount of spicing which woke up our palates.

5th course - Rare breast of duck with chestnut confit, whole chestnuts served on beluga lentils.

6th course - short ribs. The only thing that I can read from my notes is "the best." Also, as this was over 2 weeks ago and many meals since then, I honestly do not have a clear recollection of the dish.

Unfortunately, I do not have any notes on dessert which is a great slight to Michelle Meyers who is an inventive, gifted pastry chef and who deserves to have her desserts described in detail.

I can only say that SONA is a must experience for anyone who loves fine dining and deserves a loyal clientele.

carpet bagger - I have not been to La Folie in years so it would be unfair to comment on long ago experiences. As to 2117, we used to go there quite frequently, particularly on Sunday night. It is wonderful fusion food and his BYO policy is the best. We haven't gone recently, not because we didn't enjoy it, but we had eaten the menu many times over and it sort of dropped from our radar. We will definitely go back again.

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Lizziee, thank you for your eloquent descriptions. I have looked forward to your experiences and their descriptions, which really help me to get a feeling of my anticipated tastes. I hope you respect the writings of Robert Parker as I am enjoying your interpretations as I do his even though I don't necessarily agree with all his scores and tastes. Actually I have agreed with almost all your judgements and I love the fact that you are honest in your words. Do you tend to take your own wine to restaurants? How do you feel if a restaurant doesn't allow you to bring wine at all? On another note there is a restaurant in Oak park (near Thousand Oaks) called Thai Ranch. It is in a small shopping mall with a Pavillions as the anchor. This food is to my taste different than any other Thai restaurant that I have been to. Most Thai places concentrate on coconut and tend to be fairly heavy in flavour and in the mouth. Thai Ranch ( peter) is amazing. His flavour combinations are perfectly balanced, without any one overtaking the others. His choice of combinations is also wonderful.For example we had pompano fish which is plump giving it a special moistness. It is deep fried but does not suffer from any oilyness. The sauce is a sweet spicy one perfectly balanced and not too sweet. It has just the right amount of ginger added. The sauce allows you to still taste the delicious moist plump pompano. We started with a simple spinach and mushroom salad with onions in a brown sauce, A great starter. I love the spicy beef noodle, just as it sounds and beautifully balanced flavours. My wife likes the yellow curry with chicken and potatoes in curry milk. The curry is very mild and does not overwhelm the flavours that come through. This place is a great find in a relatively remote part of L.A. but his dishes are world class in ther combinations. Absolutely worth the drive. Phone is 818-991-4499. You can bring wine and they don't really know much about handling wine but thet can take the cork out.

:rolleyes::biggrin:

" Food and Wine Fanatic"

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This place (Thai Ranch) is a great find in a relatively remote part of L.A. but his dishes are world class in ther combinations. Absolutely worth the drive.

CB, I've only been there for lunch, but been there about 5 times. Nice, but nothing special. Do they metamorphasize for dinner?

beachfan

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Beachfan they must because I don't go for lunch. Only because I work so far away. Let me know and we'll meet for dinner. Also there are some dishes I would not order, such as Thai bbq chicken, bbq pork spare ribs Mee Krob and some of the basic dishes. I prefer the moere interesting things like Faux crab meat and cheese wonton and Tom Yum Po-Tak soup with shrimp,scallops, mussels, crab and squid lemongrass seasond broth. Another dish I almost always order is the Haw Mok Seafood which is a combination of all kinds of seafood in a red curry sauce over cabbage and red pepper slices. Like I mentioned before the way Peter blends his sauces and spices is incredible because nothing overwhelms anything else. Try again at night. :raz:

" Food and Wine Fanatic"

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ajay I love my cellar. I have been fortunate over many years to have discovered the kinds of wines I like and have made a study of finding them. I try to build my food and restaurant experiences around the wines so they complement each other. I am know to be opinionated about food and wine experiences which some of my friends like and others just put up with. Oh well!

" Food and Wine Fanatic"

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Do you tend to take your own wine to restaurants? How do you feel if a restaurant doesn't allow you to bring wine at all?

carpet bagger,

Thank you so much for your kind comments.

Most of the time, we bring our own wine to a restaurant, although we always ask if there is a corkage policy. The only restaurant in Los Angeles which currently does not have a corkage policy is Bastide and we then chose from their list. (So far, we have only been once.)

When we go out of town to Napa or San Francisco, we always order from the list.

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There are some restaurants where not only can you have a fine dining experience, but where the hospitality and graciousness of everyone concerned just makes you want to keep coming back. Sona is one of those restaurants. It just never disappoints.

We were there for dinner last night and from the moment we arrived to our final good-byes 4 hours later, it was a wonderful dining experience.

As soon as we were seated, Franck Alix, the GM/sommelier, opened our champagne and we settled in, waiting for the menus. Instead Chef David Myers came out, said he was so excited to see our name on the reservation list, and proceeded to "wow" us with a tasting menu.

An amuse of tomato water with uni, green apple and mustard oil. I thought it was oil flavored with Wasabi, but at the end of the evening, Chef Myers brought out the oil and confirmed that it was definitely a special mustard oil that he had obtained. This dish was light with just a trace of acidity from the tomato which highlighted the uni.

1st course - Halibut marinated in blood orange covered with a nasturtium leaf with a strip of creme fraiche mixed with fennel pollen. This presentation was masterful in that all you saw on presentation was the leaf and the white strip of flavoring. The halibut was 100% covered. The leaf added just a hint of a peppery accent with the flavors being bright and light from the blood orange marinade.

2nd course - Salmon belly with hijiki (black seaweed), clam shell mushrooms and ponzu emulsion. The seaweed resembled black pasta and provided the crunch and texture to the dish. The salmon was moist with that fatty taste of the belly.

3rd course - Pureed Fingerling potatoes with foie gras, Santa Barbara prawns and boudin emulsion. If you mixed this, you had the most intense foie gras/potato soup.

4th course - another masterful presentation. Braised rabbit leg with Ravioli of Celery root, marjoram and a touch of argon oil. Celery root was sliced almost to translucence with one slice on the bottom, braised rabbit leg in the middle with another slice of celery root on top of the rabbit to give you the look of a ravioli.

5th course - on a bed of arugula, rare slices of roasted squab on one side of the plate and on the other a tart of rabbit confit and topped with mushrooms. The tart was in a word extraordinary and the squab perfectly roasted and succulent.

6th course - rare slices of aged prime beef, and bone marrow on toast. My husband does not have the appetite that I have and Chef Myers was giving him very small portions to my larger ones.

7th course - a composed cheese plate with Asian pear. My note taking was grinding slowly to a halt so I don't have the exact names of the cheese, but they were served at the perfect temperature.

Normally, I am not a big dessert person, But Michelle Myers, the chef's wife and pastry chef is remarkable. She makes all the breads in house and her long breadsticks and olive bread are not to be missed. The breadsticks remind me of the ones served at Elysees de Vernet in Paris - about 2 feet long, crunchy and favorable. It turns out that Michelle worked at Elysees!

The only thing missing is what my husband calls a "mop up bread" something that tears up into a "mop" for the fabulous sauces.

As we had consumed quite a bit of wine by this time, I can't do justice to Michelle's desserts as I can't decipher my notes. They look like a struggling first grader wrote them.

Briefly we had:

Meyer lemon sorbet with wild blue berries and pine nuts. The berries had more of a huckleberry taste.

Strawberry rhubarb Melba with mascarpone sorbet and pain perdue.

Tiramisu on one side of the plate with berries, a touch of pepper and a presentation in an egg shell. (For complete descriptions, I will have to have dessert first!)

My one minor but important criticism of Sona: I wish I had a written menu of what we were served. Although the staff is knowledgeable, the two Chef Myers are so creative that the service staff presentations do not do justice to the cuisine. At several two and three Star Michelin restaurants in France, they provide a printed menu to follow along with as the meal is served and to take home...this would be a great touch. In France the Chef has occasionally signed our menus as a nice "gift" to enthusiastic customers.

My husband's notes on the wine which we brought:

'85 Bollinger RD 7/98--I was disappointed because this is one of my absolute favorites in super premium champagnes...I felt that it was over caramelized and "older" than I like...it was not a stimulating, bright flavor which is what I expect from this wine.

'98 Batard-Montrachet Vielles Vignes Reserve, Domaine Vincent & Francois Douard...I have had 2 other bottles of this wine and love it...maybe I was "off" last night, but this bottle was dull, flat and a bit "over". It was not corked but the color was darker than I expected...

'90 Chambertin Clos de Beze, Jadot--again, maybe it was me, but the wine, which I have had many times... I bought a case some time ago...was flat and the nose very closed...nothing interesting.

Obviously, the wine "problems" were not Sona's fault as they were from our cellar.

Sona is a serious restaurant for people who are serious about wine and food. It is a most welcome addition to a very dull and uninspired LA dining scene. We are hopeful that David and Michelle will be "discovered" by real food enthusiasts from all around the country...this is a destination restaurant for everyone from San Francisco to New York who is looking for cuisine that is different and yet equal to the best of both coasts.

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Lizziee,

Thanks for the wonderful report; Sona is on the top of my list (with Bastide a not too distant second) in the event I'm ever in the neighborhood. Sorry the wines didn't work out for you. Did you consider abandoning the wines you brought in favor of something off of the list?

Thanks again for the wonderful report; you (and Mr. Lizziee) are prooving to be an invaluable addition to egullet! :wub:

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Lizziee, what awonderful and eloquent inviting description of Sona. I can't agree with you more. I have been 4 or 5 times and am going back a week Tuesday with a wine group I belong to. Our theme is ( I feel a little broad) 1988-1992 Red Burgundies or Pinot Noirs. Our group usually brings fine examples. I will report about both food and wines. By the way I think David doesn't like printed menus of the items he serves because he likes to be able to be flexible at the last moment. You are absolutely right Michelle is a treasure. She marries the different tastes perfectly, and you can't get enough. World class food all around. A thought occurred to me. Were you taking any medicine last night. That could have put your palate off. Especially if your husband reacted differently. Just a thought.

" Food and Wine Fanatic"

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carpet bagger,

He had the problem not me and as far as I know, he was not taking anything unusual. I did not find the wines as objectionable, but when it comes to wine he is so much more knowledgeable than I am.

I know that David cooks at the moment, but it is so frustrating to be accurate as to what you are eating over the course of a long meal. Also, I continually short change Michelle which is so unfair given her talent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

carpet bagger's post on Sona was in the wine forum. I didn't want it to be overlooked so I am copying it here.

  

I'm sorry I don't have pictures but here goes with the verbal picture of my meal with the wines mentioned above.

We started with spoons of salmon with creme fresh. Good not exciting.

Spoons of Burrata cheese with wild arugala. Good, clean and unispiring.

Spoons of Prociutto with cheese. We had N. V. Billicart Salmon Brut served at a perfect temperature and it went well with the appetizers.

The amuse was exquisite veal toungue melt in your mouth, rich but not too. With tomato dill pickle, Nastrium and watermellon radish. The combinations were perfect. The radish cut the richness beautifully and the whole feel seemed to just fill my mouth wanting the dish to go on and on.

The soup. Wow! Potato with boudin (sausage) emulsion, sausage pieces and veal sweetbreads. There was also a foam on top but not blended. The sausage was so tasty, adding extended flavor mellowed by the soup itself and complemented by the sweetbreads being crispy on the outside. It was incredible. The combination really worked together.

Next was the Salmon confit on top was a couple of sprigs of mustard blossoms, with potato gnocchi. Served on the same plate with oxtail and jus. The salmon was absolutely melt in your mouth, perfectly moist and the combination of the mustard blossom ( fresh isn't the word) with the potato gnocchi worked to inspire your mind as well as your palate. The oxtail is often done too rich by many chefs, not David, and it was a great balance with the salmon on the same plate.

The last main dish was Roasted duck breast, beautifully cooked , texture was right, not over or under cooked. There was a piece of fennel that was cooked just right bringing out sweetness that I am not used to from fennel. Yet it came from it. There was chestnut confit, scrumptious, and the beluga lentils were prepared perfectly, not dry and tastless like I have had other places. The flavor came out of the lentils. The flavors of all the parts of this dish worked incredibly well together. They also showed of the freshness of all the ingredients.

I have to say David selected his dishes perfecly for the wines. He has an uncanny knowledge of the way food and wine is supposed to go together.

Unfortunately we only had one desert. Actually I don't think we had room for more anyway. I would have made room though. It was chocolate beignets with caramalized bananas and banana nutmeg sorbet. The chocolate was dark but not bitter. It was very pleasant, rich but very easy on the tongue. Made a great ending which harmonized and not overtaking the whole experience of the evening. It went with the other colder ingredients. My only disappointment was that I didn't bring port to go with the chocolate.

Well, I hope my descriptions have been inviting enough. I'm sorry you weren't all there to taste for yourselves.

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