Sitting down for dinner at a restaurant is off the table for the foreseeable future in Los Angeles, and even for those who feel comfortable with it, there’s only so far eating out on a patio or sidewalk can go. Given that constraint, this city’s fine dining and high-end establishments have turned to creative delivery options and multi-course takeout menus to keep themselves afloat and give bored, quarantined customers something to look forward to. When it comes to special occasions during the pandemic, the best option is to celebrate them at home away from the stress of masks, airborne diseases and the unpredictable behavior of other people.
But getting a full gourmet experience from the kitchens of L.A.’s finest chefs into your own home can be tricky. In an effort to make eating at home more pleasant than sifting through plastic containers or spooning lukewarm food out of a paper box, plenty of fine dining establishments have opened up their playbooks for all sorts of ways to make the process more enjoyable, fresher and easier to execute. Check out some of our picks for creativity and bang for your buck when it comes to luxe dining in a safer-at-home world.
The Finishing Gourmet
What’s the easiest way to transform a restaurant into a food delivery system? Remove the restaurant completely and lean all the way into a new model. That’s exactly what chef Robert Allen Sulatycky — of Four Seasons and Bocuse d’Or fame — and his partner, serial entrepreneur Paul Abramowitz, have done with The Finishing Gourmet. A ghost kitchen gone elegant, this new concept is dubbed a “restaurant at home” delivery service that expertly transports the full experience of a classic steakhouse dinner to your kitchen. It’s not a brick-and-mortar concept, and they use their own in-house delivery system for a flat $30 fee.
The meat is par-cooked to temperature and styled to receive a final sear at home, a finish designed to be completed in less than five minutes. And for those total kitchen newbies who might find even the simple task of finishing off a steak daunting, every selected cut comes complete with a kit of tools to help pull it off: olive oil, herbs, butter, finishing salt, a custom steak knife and even tongs. Even if you’ve never set foot in a kitchen, this kit is straightforward enough to get you to the finish line. Aside from almost every cut of steak imaginable, other entrees offerings include pork chops, grilled lobster tails, chicken breast, salmon steak and even grilled vegetable lasagna for the vegetarians.
Other thoughtful touches make this meal kit a different beast than takeout: all the sides are packed in glass containers to keep them hot, salads and other cold appetizers come in bowls, and if you order a dessert — like, say, crème brûlée — the kit includes a mini blowtorch to scorch the top to sticky perfection. Because this is high-end food designed with delivery in mind (rather than fine-dining dishes taken from a kitchen and carelessly carted to your home), the experience is totally different. And that’s just it: there’s an emphasis on honoring the experience as well as the quality of the food. It’s a wonder more of these delivery-only fine dining concepts aren’t cropping up, and in the coming months, they just might.
The Finishing Gourmet’s extensive menu is available a la carte, or a few select packages are available to help guests curate, like the current “Surf & Turf” package for two with a 12-oz. ribeye, six jumbo shrimp prepared scampi style, an iceberg wedge salad, tuna tartare, scalloped potatoes and cream cheesecake for dessert for $249. Most packages for two come in around $230, which includes the $30 delivery fee.
Check out all the options via Tock.
Even when indoor dining was completely normal, Vespertine never was. The unmistakable squiggly tower stands out like a modernist sculpture in Culver City’s otherwise subdued corporate strip, but coming upon The Waffle Building was never the only intriguing part about dining with Jordan Kahn. Like most chefs worth their salt, Kahn has pivoted not just the food itself to a delivery method, but the experience of Vespertine as well. As LA Times restaurant critic Bill Addison notes, in before times, a meal for two at Vespertine could easily run up to $1,000. Not only that, but the extensive tasting menu coursing could also last longer than four hours. So the chance to try Kahn’s food at a much more accessible price point, and for however long (or short) you’d like the meal to be, is a rare opportunity.
Kahn’s creativity and insistence on atmosphere remains part of the affair, as accoutrements like handmade coconut fiber flatware, selenite crystals, flax linen napkins and even wildcrafted incense have made their way into the takeout kits the restaurant has been prepping since last spring. Aside from whatever menu Kahn is currently serving — they rotate frequently — the “atmospheric box” that accompanies every order helps guests recreate some of the bizarre magic that has always defined Vespertine.
Of course, the food does too, with dishes like heirloom chicken with chamomile and hay, confit pie topped with chicken skin crumbles and bacon-wrapped, roasted winter squash with black truffle, and gruyere fondue. Past tasting menus have run around $245 for a six to seven-course dinner for two, and takeout resumes next weekend with a new Oaxacan-themed menu.
Orsa & Winston
Every Saturday night, Orsa & Winston’s chef Josef Centeno offers a tasting menu of his restaurant’s Italian and Japanese-inspired flavors called Cibo e Vino. Though it changes weekly, the format stays the same: three or four dishes like beef tartare, sunchoke soup and a locally-sourced salad pave the way for a main such as spot prawns, and a dessert like a Gianduja chocolate tart to finish. This Michelin-starred chef’s five-course dinner for two is offered at $190, with wine pairing options at $75 for one bottle, $125 for two. Centenos won the coveted LA Times restaurant of the year award in 2020, so no matter what this weekly menu holds, you won’t be led astray.
Cibo e Vino is available for pick up every Saturday from 3:30 PM — 8:00 PM. More info on Tock.
If a decadent brunch is more your speed than an extravagant dinner, nothing says decadence like Petrossian. The upscale caviar purveyors have responded to pandemic chaos the best way they know how: platters of bagels and smoked salmon. A bagel platter that serves six will run you close to $300, but comes complete with everything and plain bagels, a pound of smoked salmon, some classic Shassetra caviar, whipped cream cheese, and cucumbers, tomato, avocado, onion, lemon and capers. The perfect setup for a backyard day party with a few people in your bubble, and if things get any bigger, follow up with the hefty smoked salmon platter, this massive serving for four to six people is a cool $350.
Platters are available for pickup or delivery Wednesday through Sunday, 11 AM – 5 PM on Tock. Place orders 48 hours in advance.
While half the fun of visiting Rossoblu is the massive mural and formidable gold bar, getting to bring seven whole courses of chef Steve Samson’s Italian menu home makes up for missing the atmosphere. If you’re craving a feast of handmade pasta, appetizers like burrata and baked oysters, and mains like duck breast and stuffed donuts, their new at-home experience is for you. $59 per person gets you a seven-course meal with a few antipasti dishes, pasta, a main and even dessert. The individual meals come refrigerated, designed to be reheated, and red or white wine (or one of each) can be paired with the meal for $35 per bottle. And if all that wasn’t enough, their sister restaurant Superfine pizza kits are just $13 for everything from salame honey to escarole and even a vegan option. Variations on the seven-course items happen frequently, and are often posted on the Rossoblu Instagram for easy access.
More info on Rossoblu’s experience at home seven course dinner here.
For a still-decadent brunch that doesn’t run up a bill equivalent to rent, check out Republique’s multi-course weekend brunch: $32 per person gets you six courses served family style and a generous portion of orange juice, which can be transformed into a mimosa kit for $22 per bottle of prosecco. And hey, even if everyone involved needs their own bottle (it’s been a rough year, right?) that still comes in under $60 per person, a more than reasonable price point for any boozy brunch.
With plenty of this West Hollywood staple’s signature baked goods — like fresh baguette with Normandy butter and jam, brioche french toast and banana poppyseed muffins — the prix fixe also balances carb-heavy sweets with soft scrambled eggs and kimchi fried rice with beef short rib. In short, this is the best deal in town. Order a course or two for your household, order another set for some friends, and fire up FaceTime for a good old-fashioned gossiping sesh — the true purpose of brunch.
Order via Tock.
Though Sugarfish made mid-tier takeout sushi a thing with their clever suitcase packaging, the expensive omakase from chef Hiroyuki Naruke at Q Sushi was unlikely to ever be packed into to-go boxes in a pre-pandemic world. But those who never made it into his six-seat, Edo-style sushi spot downtown are now afforded the chance to enjoy a tiered menu from the Michelin-starred Tokyo native in the comfort of their own home. Starting off with small appetizers — or tsumami — the coursing then moves to several rounds of sashimi and nigiri paired with rice that’s been carefully seasoned with a precise mix of salt and red vinegar brewed from sake cakes. A box for two also includes some mini chirashi, a bowl of scattered rice, fish and vegetables that’s similar to poke, which runs for $400 even. It’s extravagant, but every omakase meal I’ve ever splurged on has been more than worth it.
Order via Tock.
Simply craving the relaxing happy hour snack of oysters and a glass of cool, citrusy rosé? Look no farther than Oytogo, the takeout pivot from Grand Central Market’s freshest seafood stand, The Gourmet Oyster. Since 2014, the French-born master écailler Christophe Happillon has been serving up LA’s finest oysters at his 14-seater bar in downtown LA, and before that at ritzy places like Soho House, Jonathan Club and Perch. Nobody knows better than Happillon just how few of us can shuck our own oysters properly, so he’s got it covered with a new takeout concept. Start off small with a dozen oysters platter for $45 or save a few bucks by splurging for two dozen at $80. Particularly bad week? Ring in the weekend with the motherlode, three dozen oysters for $120 and swap that rosé for an at-home martini. Remember the Bond mantra — shaken, not stirred — and slurp your pandemic boredom away. No matter the size, every order comes with lemons, cocktail sauce, and mignonette, all nestled in a bed of fresh ice. Orders must be made at least 24 hours in advance, so try to anticipate your own moods.
Pickup is Friday through Sunday 11 AM — 5 PM. Order here.