712 S Santa Fe Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dining date: 3/28/14
Located in between popular daytime options Bread Lounge and Stumptown Coffee and just around the corner from always-popular Bestia, Fifty Seven is the latest restaurant opening in the red hot Arts District. The restaurant, which opened this past week, is to me one of the more intriguing recent concepts. The format has been compared to the old Test Kitchen and its revolving door of chefs creating their own menus. Whereas Test Kitchen stints typically lasted just a few days, Fifty Seven will welcome a new chef every few months to come in and create an entirely new menu. To me, the success of Fifty Seven will ultimately be dependent upon the quality and excitement of the chefs they are able to bring in.
David Nayfield is the chef in residence and the first chef to craft their own menu. Nayfield has a strong pedigree, most recently coming from the highly acclaimed Eleven Madison Park. He brings his progressive American cuisine in the form of a $48 three-course menu with a handful of additional a la carte snacks available. Three different options were available for each course; between the two of us, we were able to sample two-thirds of the options and added on two snacks for good measure.
Multigrain bread and butter are both made in-house, something of a rarity. Both were good especially the exceptionally soft, creamy butter.
3 SHEETS BELVEDERE VODKA, CHAMOMILE GRAPPA, LEMONGRASS, WHITE BALSAMIC, LEMON, HONEY
DEVILED EGGS CELERY RELISH
Deviled eggs were well done, with the rich creamy yolk complemented by the crunchy celery relish.
Served warm, these were spot on – light, airy and with a delicious cheese flavor.
DIVER SCALLOP WILD RICE, FENNEL, FETA
The huge diver scallops were executed well too, warm and raw in the center with a crisp exterior. The accompaniments elevated the shellfish between the crispy wild rice and bright citrusy flavors. Best dish of the night.
BRASSICA ROASTED GARLIC, LEMON, PARMESAN
VEGETABLES À LA GRECQUE ASPARAGUS, CAULIFLOWER, HEN OF THE WOODS
The first course brought a couple of salad options. I opted for the vegetables a la grecque; the vegetables were very flavorful and I thought the grilled asparagus was really well done. Marinated hen of the woods mushrooms packed a lot of flavor too in this light starter.
CONTRABAND OLD GRANDAD BOURBON, AMONTILLADO CONTRABANDISTA, AVERNA AMARO, GINGER, LEMON, PECAN BITTERS
HALIBUT NASTURTIUM, ARTICHOKE, MUSSEL
LAMB MOREL, FAVA BEAN, CIPPOLINI ONION
We did one meat and one fish dish for the main. The halibut was cooked perfectly with a delicate crust and moist, flaky flesh. The nasturtium puree and artichokes provided a grassy, earthier counterpoint, though the mussels didn’t add too much. The lamb was also prepared well, tender and flavorful. The ravioli was a bit under cooked though leaving it slightly gritty and chewy.
PINEAPPLE CRÈME FRAÎCHE, CORIANDER
MEYER LEMON RICOTTA, PARMESAN SABLÈ, BASIL
Both desserts were good. The meyer lemon was light with a great crust; ricotta sorbet, basil sauce and parmesan crumble added savory elements but it still tasted like a dessert. The pineapple dessert, inspired by an upside-down cake, featured some great textures accented by the coriander. The creme fraiche ice cream was a difference-maker with its tart and refreshing flavor.
MIGNARDISES PASSION FRUIT CARAMEL, FLAXSEED TUILE, COCONUT MACARON
Fifty Seven presented a promising and satisfying meal. It does achieve its goal of serving a relatively refined meal in a casual atmosphere, and at $61 per person for food the price range was pretty reasonable too. Execution was generally strong and the food simple yet just creative enough to make it interesting. I wouldn’t say I’m planning to try the restaurant again during Nayfield’s run, but I’ll be closely watching what other chefs come in to cook at Fifty Seven.