DTLA: Full Service Lunch at Orsa and Winston
When Orsa and Winston opened for lunch years ago, it was a bit odd to order at the “counter” which was more of the chef’s table overlooking the kitchen and then find a seat to wait for your food. It was almost fast casual but never felt right in the tasting menu, fine dining environment.
For months, the format remained virtually unchanged. It was strictly the grain bowls and the choices were the protein. Then a chicken sandwich sneaked onto the menu and other things. But it was always still an odd ordering system where you wondered if you paid up front or at the end of the meal (the policy seemed to change with the order taker/server).
I had heard about O&W adding new lunch items to the menu recently so I wanted to check it out. To my surprise, we were asked to sit right away and as it turned out, not only has the menu expanded but so has the service. It’s now a full menu with full service for lunch. And what a menu! The grain bowls are still a constant but there’s a Japanese omakase breakfast and caviar service (for a whopping $185!) but I decided I really wanted the satsuki rice porridge with the uni, scallops and abalone.
Next to noodles, my favorite carb is rice. And porridge is even better. Chowder was mentioned in the description and indeed this porridge is as thick as chowder. Could be the pecorino (my favorite cheese, actually). This subtle Japanese/Italian fusion remains approachable.
My friend went back to the tried and true and opted for a grain bowl with crudo. No longer present are the disposable bowls but also the kelp noodle option seemed to be missing. Ah well, more than likely I will try all the different porridge options (I’m looking at you green barley porridge) before I’d get a grain bowl again. Not that they weren’t delicious but it’s now a whole new Orsa and Winston lunch world.
The brassicas category covers Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli among others. I ordered the roasted sprouting brassica which turned out to be that funky cauliflower/broccolini hybrid with a walnut bagna cauda. My non-veggie loving friend left me to enjoy everything. And yes, I ate it all up.
For old time’s sake, we did also get the chicken katsu. The sandos have expanded to include shrimp, steak and porchetta now but we were feeling nostalgic for the chicken.
I’d love to try the donabe for two next time. I’m always into hot pots!
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