Imagine a night that involves roaming a beautiful theater, filled with some of the best chefs in LA, who are hand-serving you small dishes packed with their own personal punch of flavor. It sounds like a dream, right? Well, dreams really do come true, especially when Jonathan Gold and food are involved. Welcome to the Fourth Annual LA Times Bite Nite: A Celebration of Jonathan Golds 101 Best Restaurants.
The Bite Nite event is held annually to promote the release of Jonathan Gold’s 101 List of Best Restaurants in Los Angeles. For a $125 ticket, you get unlimited access to 27 different restaurant booths from that list, each one serving their own unique dish.
This year, it was held at the Ebell of Los Angeles, a glorious historical building with a grassy courtyard, three large ballrooms and stunning high ceilings. When I first arrived, I was almost too overwhelmed to turn my attention to the food. Almost.Once I stepped into the first room and smelled the grilling meat at the Guerrilla Taco stand, caught the shine of a glistening oyster at Providence, and practically heard the crunch of the crispy rice salad at Night + Market song, I couldn’t get to the food fast enough.
In fact, I really couldn't get there fast enough. The night flew by so quickly that I did end up missing a few stands... particularly bitter about failing to procure one of Providence's oysters. I also failed to try the tacos from Taco Maria and Guerrilla Tacos or a plate from Meal's by Genet and Jitlada. As every restaurant from the event is based in LA, I guess I'll just have to start making reservations.
While there wasn’t a dish that I did not like, there were a couple that made me ignore my stomach’s cries for help and reach for another plate. In no particular order, I give you a list of my top ten favorite dishes from the LA Times Bite Nite to encourage you to start saving up your money for next year’s ticket.
1. Octopus from Baroo
With little gems, kohlrabi and green goddess dressing. Slow-cooked salmon will be the new salmon poke, I'm sure of it.
3. Smoked Trout from Rustic Canyon
Topped with preserved lemon and dill—yum.
4. Nam Khao Tod Thai Crispy Rice Salad from Night + Market Song
With ginger, cilantro, onion, chili, lime and fermented pineapple "fish sauce." I went back twice for this dish. The rice practically pops in your mouth.
5. Confit Duck from Mélisse Restaurant
With fermented black beans, pumpkin seed and spiced quince. A modern take on a classic french dish that worked in beautiful and mysterious ways.
6. Pork Belly Bao from Spago
Soft, fluffy bun with pork belly that melts into a pool of fat and flavor on your tongue. This one was definitely a bite to remember.
7. Lobster "Tom Kha Gai" from Lukshon
With mushroom crumbs, frozen lime, herbs, and pork floss. They somehow succeeded in making even the paper plate look fancy.
8. Yellowtail and Conch Tostada from Chichén Itzá
You could actually watch one of the chef's break open a conch before serving you a tostada. Talk about fresh.
9. Grilled Double R NY Steak from CUT
With matsutake mushrooms, watercress, myoga, and tosa vinaigrette. If someone would just bottle the smell of cooking steak and sell it as perfume...
9.5. The "Tater Tot" from Trois Mec.
With tapioca, passion fruit, and parmesan. Only I was too obsessed with getting a pic of Chef Ludo to remember to take a photo of the dish. #priorities
10. Spiced Pumpkin Pop-Tarts from Nickel Diner
Topped with cider glaze and served with Mexican hot chocolate (not pictured). A comforting end to a luxurious meal.
So while the button of my jeans may or may not have popped off in protest, my bulging food baby having pushed it one centimeter too far, I floated home on a cloud of meat smoke and fulfilled dreams, too pleased to notice the pain.