FWIW, the Kass bar serves the full menu (in addition to oysters and olives), and is nice and spacious.
I was curious about the Kass wine list as I couldn’t find it online. I’m actually a huge fan of wines from the Loire, but I am definitely not a fan of tropical fruit-like wine with low minerality. Unfortunately Loire wines can be insipid as well and at a lot of restaurants (hey, I’m looking at you Cut), you will find that the wine by the glass list is chock full of insipidness, even if there is decent wine available by the bottle. To me, the mark of a great beverage director is that even the wines by the glass are great. Hopefully, your Sancerre was an outlier at Kass.
I know that restaurants make their profit margin off of liquor, but I bring my own wine for the same reasons as @DTLAeater - I have more wine in storage that I could possibly drink in the next few years and I prefer not to pay $120 off the list for a wine that could be had for $40 or $50 at most (I find most restaurants are marking up well over two times retail). So I may not be a restaurant’s favorite customer, although I will tend to splurge on expensive items like truffles. Not sure if that makes up for anything because I don’t know what the profit margin is on truffles.
In looking at the pictures on Eater, I actually thought that the bar looked like a more comfortable place to have dinner than one of the cramped tables. I always feel funny though about toting my own wine to the bar, even if I am ordering the full menu, as opposed to toting my own wine to a table.
@Omotesando, the excellent review posted by @J_L has pictures of the wine list:
As i noted above the tables are ridiculously close together so you’re essentially sitting at a ten person communal table with the added benefit of having rear ends in your face as guests do acrobatics to get in and out of their seats.
I would much rather sit at a communal table with chairs and access to both sides or at the bar.
Dining room at kass from instagram
Communal table at republique from yelp
Hmmn. That wine list is most definitely not directed to people who are into wine. “Bright?” “Juicy?” “Energetic?” “Fruity?” WTF? Are we in kindergarten? Maybe there should be a “Yummy” section of the wine list as well. Makes me think that the wine list is aimed at college students just transitioning from Stella Rosa and who are looking for something yummy.
The only wines I immediately recognized were the Elisabetta Foradori, a winemaker who in my opinion makes simple overpriced glop that gives natural wine-making a bad name, and the ubiquitous Arianna Occhipinti (definitely a better winemaker than Elisabetta Foradori). I will say, however, that the the markups, at least on those two wines, are on the low side.
I would agree that at least at a communal table you don’t have to do acrobatics to get up, plus at a communal table, you can at least have the illusion of conviviality (oh, I’m at a communal table, why don’t I talk to my neighbor?) as opposed to tables jammed together which somehow just feels intrusive.
Looking at the pictures of Kass, it appears that sadly the restaurant was the victim of a long narrow space and had no choice but to cram the tables together in a narrow row in order to fit a sufficient number of tables to try to make a go of it financially. Never ate at Ortolon, but given the pedigree of the chef, I would love to come out and support him, and yet those tables are a turnoff to me.
Perhaps I’ll pop by the bar one night and try to find something decent on that ridiculously laid out wine list. While I’m sure most of it is plonk (just found this online description of the list’s Fabien Jouves Tu Vin, which is listed in the list’s “Juicy” section – “Easy drinking wine with lots of juicy blackberry”), I would assume that at least one or two of the wines are actually good and interesting as opposed to “easy drinking.”
FTC: Keepin’ wine snobby.
I also bring my own wine about 98% of the time. Mostly because so many restaurants in LA have great food but useless wine lists, and many of them have wines that do not even match the food they serve. Not too mention crazy 2 bottle maximum per party, which really does not work if, for example, you have 5-6 people.
I study the menu ahead of time, figure out approximately what we will order and try to match the wines. Sometimes we get there and the wine list is great or we change our mind about menu choices, and I will order from the list.
Finally, it makes financial sense since most of the mark up is more than corkage, and like many on this board, I have too much wine at home already.
As for Kass, I was looking forward to going but then I started to read this discussion, looked at the photos and lost my enthusiasm. Perhaps one day when my wife and I stop by, sit at the bar, drink some wine and have dinner that way…
Finally made it to Kass. I was really looking forward to it as I have very fond memories of Ortolan.
The space was small, but did not feel overcrowded or too loud. Service started out as very friendly and appeared competent.
Bread and Butter -nice bread with Bordier butter (one of the world’s best) was nice to start with
Tuna sashimi - very unremarkable, kind of bland, a very small portion for $21
Crab - amazing
Scrambled eggs with caviar - the eggs were wonderful, but completely overwhelmed the caviar. I could not discern much caviar flavor at all. So, for $28 per, the QPR is not there.
Creme de champignons - unfortunately not on the menu last night
Grilled octopus - perfectly cooked with awesome dipping pepper sauce and great way to serve it on the little grill.
Seared black cod - completely forgettable, and for $38 portion is quite small.
Salmon - fairly bland piece of salmon, not that large, the sauce was nice but very little amount.
Chicken - amazing tender and juicy, pretty perfect.
Chocolat desert - I am not a desert fan, and this was not going to convert me.
Apple tart - did not get to try.
I have to say that Chef Christophe was working his tail off in the kitchen all night long. I am not sure how long he can keep this intensity up. I some ways I found this restaurant reminiscent of the bistronomy restaurants in Paris, Frenchie, Chez Ami Jean etc.
The service started out very brightly but deteriorated towards the end. When we were ordering out meal they told us that the apple tart was very special and took 45 min to make so we had to pre-order it, which we did. When our chocolate desert arrived, and desert wines, and then nothing for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile all the servers who prior to that would go by routinely and refill water and pour wine now kept avoiding us. After about 30 minutes of nothing, and watching the apple tart go by to another table, I was able to flag the maître d and ask him for the check. He immediately knew what the problem was, and brought us the bill, apologized and waived the chocolate desert ($12) and two corkage fees ($40 each !!!).
Overall, we left the restaurant with mixed feelings, some dishes were great, others not so much. I do think that prices are on the higher side. I also think that the food at Republique, two blocks away is much tastier. It will be interesting to see how the restaurant will grow up, and I think that fish is not something I will be ordering next time. Lobster ravioli, the steak, and the beef cheek next table looked very appealing. Lots of interesting wines on the wine list, so I doubt I will bother bringing my own with $40 corkage.
But i’m not sure i can trust anyone who’s not a fan of dessert. just teasin, thanks for reporting. price has kept me at bay so far… too much traveling lately
I take my desert in vino
Oh man, we brought back so much port from Portugal. Dessert and wine in one
Did you ship it back or brave your luggage?
luggage. 3 checked bags = 13 bottles lol… not all port tho.
That’s extraordinarily impressive!
Nice report @beam. I love Bordier butter! Sorry to hear about the scrambled eggs – if they were worth the QPR that alone would have drawn me to Kass since scrambled eggs are one of my favorite things in the world and when I make them, only like one time in 10 do I get them perfect.
$40 is rather pricey for corkage unless they are serving you in Reidel or similar quality, but I guess they really really don’t want you to bring your own wine. Since I really really like to bring my own wine, that would probably keep me away although I do understand the restaurant’s perspective and it’s only $5 more than the typical $35 corkage.
Thanks for reporting back!
Chef Eme’s creme de champignons is spectacular - Bummer it wasn’t available on your visit.
They have a nice and somewhat eclectic wine list, so I do not have a problem with the corkage.
I am really impressed!
Since we never check luggage this is not an option for me.