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Review

Jakob Layman

Orsa & Winston

Jakob Layman

We used to be able to watch an hour of TV without feeling the need to check the IMDb page of every “Man On Bench 1” in the background. And there was a time (we think) when we could sit for 20 minutes with a book. Now, we have to put our phones on Do Not Disturb and turn off our wifi if we want to do something as simple as writing this paragraph. Orsa & Winston, in DTLA, is another thing that’s been neglected by our short attention span. And that’s a thing that needs to change.

Orsa & Winston is the more formal spot from the guy behind Bar Amá, Bäco Mercat, and PYT. If you’re the kind of person who keeps up with new restaurants, you might have had your fancy birthday dinner here in 2013, told everyone you knew how fantastic it was, and then moved onto the next spot. It seems to us like a lot of people did.

But as it turns out, Orsa & Winston has only gotten better. The food is still kind-of Italian, mostly Japanese, but they now serve more casual food during the day as well as their tasting menu at dinner. And for reasons extremely unclear to us, there’s also never more than a handful of people in the place at any time of day.

Jakob Layman

What that means, if you work downtown, is that this is your new secret lunch spot. While the Japanese-Italian mash-up sounds like the result of a Chopped challenge, Orsa & Winston executes this menu very well. You can order both a fairly straight-up Japanese chicken katsu sandwich and a smoked fish plate with a shoyu egg on top of tuna tonnato, and both will be outstanding.

Dinner is even better. It’s a six-course, $95 tasting menu that’s absolutely worth inventing a special occasion to try. The dishes change constantly, but are creative, unusual, and generally involve a lot of seafood - like an incredible mussel and scallop chowder with pickled grapes, and chilled soba noodles with pesto, uni, and abalone. While maybe one of the six dishes you eat won’t really work (those noodles go right up to the line of weird and then cross it), at least you’ll be eating something you haven’t tried before.

Orsa & Winston pulls off the extremely rare trick of being both an everyday spot for lunch and a special occasion restaurant. While it looks like a fine dining restaurant, you won’t feel weird about dropping in for a grain bowl between meetings. And more importantly, the food here is fantastic, no matter what time of day you’re here. So close IMDb (yes, that actor was in a single episode of Mad Men), and focus your attention on Orsa & Winston, a restaurant that deserves it.

Food Rundown

Jakob Layman
Smoked Fish Plate

The kind of lunch we wish we could eat every day. The fish changes all the time, is smoked in-house, and is served with some of the most delicious bread we’ve ever eaten.

Jakob Layman
O&W Grain Bowl Salad

A filling, tasty, and healthy option for lunch that’s way less boring than 90% of all grain bowls you will ever eat. You can add a fried egg, seafood crudo, or chicken curry on top, to make it feel even less like something you’d hate-eat at your desk.

Jakob Layman
Chicken Katsu Sando

A Japanese-style fried chicken sandwich that has occupied most of our thoughts since eating it. The bread alone makes this worth the order.

Jakob Layman
Tasting Menu

This changes regularly, but is six courses, and you can add on a caviar or foie gras course if you’re really going for it - although neither are really necessary. The menu is seafood- and vegetable-heavy, and those dishes tend to be the standouts. We’ve had a fantastic aguachile, an asparagus salad with the ideal amount of truffle, and a chocolate cardamom tart that we didn’t have room for, but ate all of anyway.

Jakob Layman
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