How to Enjoy Virbila’s Favorite Meals and Lie to Mozza’s Face

Could you lie to this face?
Could you lie to this face? Photo: Hadley Tomicki

L.A. Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila turns her eye on the year gone by today in an attempt to recall her favorite dining experiences of 2009. We know by now she doesn’t really reach the Gold standard of discovery and listing such heavily-praised grounds as The Bazaar, Rivera, Church & State, Cut, Eva, and Gjelina doesn’t exactly shatter that impression.

But Virbila does drop a few insider-y gems on how to enjoy these well-trodden paths. She suggests letting the boss select your menu at Jitlada for an education in how spices are variously utilized and, more useful, pushes readers to lie to the valets at Mozza that you indeed have made reservations then proceed to the mozzarella bar for Nancy Silverton’s hands-on attention. She also defeats her great foe “noise” at The Bazaar for its Saam, Jose Andres’ secret restaurant that serves 22 different courses each night for just 30 guests and is only open three nights a week. Ferran Adria must be so proud.

A critic’s most memorable dining experiences of 2009 [L.A. Times]