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Michael Bauer Traveled to LA, Reviewed Its Restaurants for Some Reason

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Including the restaurants of some ex-Bay Area superstars

Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

The dining scenes of San Francisco and Los Angeles have long enjoyed a give-and-take relationship, sending trends, chefs and restaurants back and forth like delicious ping pong balls. Both cities are experiencing a dining boom, and overflow with talented chefs of all stripes.

San Francisco's own tenured critic Michael Bauer made a little trip (or two) down to the City of Angels recently, to put his stamp on the state of the dinner table. Despite the fact that LA already has a renowned and easily recognizable critic, Jonathan Gold and its own list of the hits (LA's 101 vs SF's Top 100), Bauer has compiled his own list. He also had plenty to say about the state of the dining scene down there, and his conclusion was a quote from Eater's own critic Bill Addison, who recently proclaimed LA to be the best dining city in 2015: "San Francisco and Los Angeles, for me, are truly neck and neck as dining cities," says Eater's Bill Addison. "California is on fire right now. There's no better place to be eating in the country."

Los Angeles is in the bubble of discovery, creating a more casual, freewheeling dining environment.

And with that, here are some highlights from LA restaurants with Bay Area connections:

Rustic Canyon

Former Ubuntu chef Jeremy Fox still has "a deep connection to non-meat items," according to Bauer, while the casual interior belies the level of food within. The cocktail program"raises the bar for what just about everyone is doing in California," and Bauer proclaimed that if he lived in LA he "would definitely be a regular."

Otium

The recently opened restaurant from former French Laundry chef de cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth is a bit of a blockbuster in downtown LA. Bauer gave it a straightforward assessment, listing many of Hollingsworth's inventive dishes without much commentary, though he did say that Hollingsworth is "trying to forge a new trail and make the restaurant his own." Which is good, right?

Viviane

Fine dining is still the focus for Michael Hung, former chef de cuisine of La Folie. The restaurant is poolside at the Avalon Hotel, where Bauer says "The menu and the cocktail offerings re-envision the continental food of the 1950s in a very 21st century way," while the cool Hollywood vibe (though the hotel is in Beverly Hills) is something "you can only find in Los Angeles."

    How did Bauer do? Eater LA editor Matthew Kang weighs in on the alien critic's thoughts:

"I don't really disagree with any of Bauer's picks, they were all really solid. However, I'd say Pizzeria Mozza isn't really a new place to talk about. Saying Bestia's vibe surpasses its food is terribly, terribly wrong in my opinion. And dogging on Maude's "surroundings" kind of misses the point. Not every restaurant can look like Benu.

And I can't believe he said Baroo's service is 'spotty. Not every restaurant has a brigade of service to refill your water every five minutes."— Eater LA Editor, Matt Kang

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