It would be hard to overestimate the importance of John Sedlar, who introduced the idea of new Southwestern Cuisine 25 years ago at the late St. Estephe, marrying classical French technique to the flavors imprinted onto his palate as a kid in New Mexico -- at this remove, it's hard even to remember a time before chipotle cream sauces and blue corn tortilla chips. So it is not much of an exaggeration to say that Sedlar's reappearance at Rivera, an elegant restaurant a block or two from Staples Center, is thrilling, especially the inner sanctum, a hushed, intimate dining room lined with tequila bottles lit as if from within. Sedlar has been up to a lot since we saw him last, and his cooking, mostly small plates, skews a bit Spanish but his great new love seems to be modernized Mexican and Latin-American cooking. Where at St. Estephe, Sedlar was content to serve two soups in one bowl, here he layers them, in a single shotglass, so that as you drain the glass the hot chile soup turns suddenly cold and creamy in your mouth, adding a sort of three-dimensionality to the contrast of the flavors. The Yucatecan cochinito pibil
, spice-rubbed pork traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and pit-steamed, becomes even almost impossibly luscious when the banana-leaf package is cooked for countless hours at a controlled temperature sous vide. And unlike every other chef working the Latin-fusion riff, when Sedlar prepares something like a banana-leaf tamale with short ribs and exotic mushrooms, he understands that the most important thing is that the tamale itself be first-rate. This is a Mexican restaurant Los Angeles has needed for a very long time. See full review.
Cuisines: Latin American
Payment Type: All Major Credit Cards
Reservations: Accepted, Online Reservations Available
Attire: Business Casual