WOW…Orsa & Winston Is A Winner…

Orsa & Winston

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”

Poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, created an imaginary persona to cover the fact that she was talking about her husband. I do not have to be covert about my feelings for a brand new restaurant.

I fell in love Saturday night with 5 courses of the most exciting food I have consumed in recent memory at the new Los Angeles Japanese-Italian downtown establishment, Orsa & Winston.

When I love, I love BIG. Whether it is my family, doggies, NY Giants, ‘Cuse basketball, the Yankees, travel, theater and of course, a more organic subject, food and I loved Orsa & Winston.

Food is a turn on and exceptional food is a thrill…just like the perfect orgasm, talked about a lot, but very hard to come by.

A brief prelude…I felt as if I had entered the gleaming, secret lab of a mad scientist/chef concocting wondrous combinations of herbs, vegetables, meat, fish and fruits to create unique taste sensations for the modern palette.

As the evening progressed I realized how apt the analogy was. The dining experience at Orsa & Winston can only be described as magical. While I only have words to use, here in lies my best effort…and now the sumptuous experience.

Fennel Panna Cotta
Fennel Panna Cotta

The dining affair started with an amuse bouche fennel panna cotta with potato puree, bonita flakes, extra virgin olive oil, fennel frond and topped with tonburi, a Japanese seed with a texture similar to caviar.


We chose the wine pairings for an additional $40. The first course was kanpachi (amberjack) crudo with yellow wax beans, radish and garnished with succulent, juicy grapefruit segments. This was accompanied by a Haus Blanc wine, oaky, creamy Grenache blend from Spain.

Breakfast in an Egg
Breakfast in an Shell

It was dinner, but our taste buds were teased by an additional gift of “Breakfast In a Shell”. This charming au naturel Faberge egg clone was a coddled egg yolk with cream, semolina and maple syrup…divine.

Buttermilk Biscuits, Black Cod Dip
Buttermilk Biscuits, Black Cod Dip

And the hits just keep on coming…another treat from Chef Josef was a freshly baked buttermilk biscuit with homemade butter a side of chili cod dip comprised of smoked black cod tornado which is cooked until it falls off the bone and is then pureed.

Sunchoke Soup with Lobster and Creme Fraiche
Sunchoke Soup with Lobster and Creme Fraiche

If you are keeping count, technically the 2nd course was a soup of  pureed sunchoke, truffles, creme fraiche, lobster and delicate grapes. Seriously…you have died and gone to heaven. If I am ever in need of sustenance, hook me up to an IV of truffled sunchoke soup, please!

The soup was served with Hiroshima sake which was smooth and divine.

Squid Ink Rice with Uni

Good things come in 3’s and the squid ink rice with clam and pecorino cheese, topped by a lustrous, generous serving of creamy, decadent uni was our third course…OMG, I love uni and I savored every bite, leaving it for last like the batter covered beaters on my mother’s mix master.

This was paired with a sake which is fermented with mushrooms. There is definitely a mushroom essence and a slight caramel tinge to the color.

Beef Cheek Raviola
Beef Cheek Raviola

Four was the core of the meal…amazing does not do the raviola justice. It was a beef cheek raviola with squash blossoms adorned with currants served with a delicious, very drinkable Rosso viola from the heel of Italy region.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Grapefruit Granita
Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Grapefruit Granita
Chocolate Torte
Chocolate Torte With Banana Rum Ice Cream

The finale was a goats milk cheesecake with grapefruit granita and a lovely Moscato for David and my treat was a chocolate torte with banana rum ice cream topped with caramelized bananas. The torte was decadent and the cheesecake was comprised of the most divine cheese. I had a glass of Visciolata, blended with both sun-dried sour cherries  and cabernet sauvignon grapes from Italy.

Tangerine Mochi
Tangerine Mochi

Perish the thought that we depart hungry, our bill was served with a delicate tangerine mochi cookie with shiso.

Our server, Mary, was patient and attentive as was the rest of the staff. We gazed at Josef Centeno from afar as he was very involved in creating. We used to sit and chat with him when he was the chef at Lazy Ox Canteen. He also paid his dues at Daniel and La Cote Basque in New York City and attended the Culinary Institute of America.

He has completed the hat trick of owning 3 new restaurants, baco mercat, Bar Alma and Orsa & Winston. Centeno now dominates a block of downtown’s Old Bank District.

The offerings at Orsa & Winston are the following tasting menus: a family style 4 course meal for $50 with a wine pairing at $40. The 5 course, $60 per person meal we indulged in specifically consisted of a crudo, salad, grain, meat and sweet course. An $85, 8 course selection, and a “Super-Omakase” spectacular at $195 per person with a $100 wine pairing rounded out the rest of the options. Reservations are needed for the “Super-Omakase” and you are seated at the 4 seat chef’s counter.

The restaurant has an antipasti menu. You can order heritage pork testa ($18), squid ink spaghettini ($28), fresh cheese cavatelli ($32), 6 oysters ($22), milk bread foccacia ($18), geoduck ($24),  chicken liver mousse ($15), kanpachi ($19) as well as a 42 oz. bistecca fiorentina bone-in, 15-day dry aged at $175.  There are more selections all with a multitude of ingredients.

For $27 you can add truffles to the meal. They are very accommodating regarding allergies and dietary restrictions.

Please forgive me if I have omitted an ingredient or listed some incorrectly. I felt as if I was back in Professor Zimmerman’s Art History course, as I was taking copious notes at a rapid rate. The more I drank, the more challenging the task.

Josef’s Centeno’s partner and director of operations, Mike Hoagland, was charming and a calming presence. The restaurant runs so smoothly. The mood is tranquil and minimal with the interior designed by Amaryllis Knight.

joe interior

Orsa & Winston is small and intimate with an open kitchen and large, inviting windows at the front. Tables are not too close and we had a wonderful discussion with a brother and sister at the table next to us. They were delightful and it was hard to believe they were siblings because they got along so well.

WOW…and so ends the tale.

Orsa & Winston, 122 W. 4th Street, Los Angeles. Serving dinner Tuesday-Saturday.






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