99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Allumette

photo by Anne Fishbein

Allumette began as an experiment: Could a highly progressive restaurant make it without big-money backing in a neighborhood better known for its late-night tacos than for its tasting menus? Since opening in January 2013, young chef Miles Thompson has built a quiet but dedicated following for his hyper-creative cooking, even making Bon Appetit’s 2013 list of the 50 best new restaurants in the country. In recent weeks he’s gone to a tasting menu-only format, which seems a little odd for both the unassuming room and its Echo Park neighborhood. Still, at $45 for four courses (or $60 for five) it’s one of the better deals in town — a full tasting menu for the price of an app, entree and half-dessert at most restaurants of comparable quality. Thompson seems to have toned down his cooking just a smidge from his wild first days, but you won’t be bored. You might start with that vegetable du jour romanesco, served with beet sabayon and nori yogurt, followed by tight little gnochetti bathed in a rich sauce made of wood pigeon. Octopus confit comes with house-made mustard and enough black vinegar accents to make you pucker happily. End with a sunchoke panna cotta, which sounds like it won’t work but absolutely does. You can still eat à la carte at the bar, which is one of the more quietly convivial places in town to dine, with some seriously great cocktails to match.

-- Besha Rodell