Somni (Beverly Hills): A Pictorial Essay

Somni. It’s finally here. So let’s go!!!

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Chefs José Andrés and Aitor Zabala, both ex-El Bulli alumni, have once again collaborated to bring the Spanish avant garde to Los Angeles. The setting is the former Saam space in the SLS hotel Beverly Hills. The buildout is remarkable, and very much in keeping with Chef Andrés’ aesthetic. (The meal itself is full of wonderful surprises for the diner, so descriptions of dishes may be intentionally vague…)

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Homage to El Bulli…

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Aperitif: Prosecco…

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“Hojita”…

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Pan con tomate y jamón… No Catalonian-inspired meal is complete without reference to the delicious “pa amb tomaquet” (bread with tomato)!

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Almond shell…

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Apple floret, cheese & beet…

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“Piggy” de manteca colorada…

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Wine pairing…

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Neat presentation!

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Bumping fists with the chef…

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Caviar & truffle…

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Nori dumpling…

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Spot prawn & that’s it…

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Wine pairing…

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Pigtail curry bun…

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Flavor infusion by Chef Zabala…

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Hibiscus margarita…

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Christofle utensils… Opulent!

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Live scallop…

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Wine pairing…

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Sommelier Brandon Miradi also pours non-alcoholic “syrah” as well!

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Lamb, pine nut & herbs…

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Egg, sea urchin & truffle…

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Wine pairing…

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Happiness exists on the line…

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“Croissant”

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Making sure the next dish is just right…

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Two spoons needed!

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Alubias con jamón…

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Wine Pairing…

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Pekin chili crab…

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Steak knife… Beautiful, balanced and sharp!

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Japanese A5 wagyu, from Kagoshima…

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Japanese A5 & bone marrow…

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Dessert time!!!

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Wine pairing…

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“Snowflake”

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Vienetta…

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Trio of final sweets (& pour-over coffee)…

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Matcha doughnut…

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Mochi…

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Merienda…

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Bravissimo! An incredible, intimate experience for all the senses! What a meal!!!

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Service was impeccable and warm. The bar only seats 10, and there are only two seatings per evening (6pm and 8:30pm). I enjoyed my dinner at Somni immensely, and they’re only on their inaugural week of service. Even those of you who have previously dined at the Michelin 3-stars in Basque country would find something new and exciting at Somni.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Somni
SLS Hotel Beverly Hills
465 S. La Cienega Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
310.246.5555
website (with link to Tock reservation site)

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OMG. Nice.

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Good job getting the scoop on this one :wink: Nice report.

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I love the way the caviar course is served, so artsy, yet so fun. The whole meal looks lovely, thank you for the great photos.

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Just wow! A few years ago we ate at Tickets Bar in Barcelona and I get the same sense of fun AND great food.

The site says $235/pp with “additional wine pairings available.” I gather that means it doesn’t include any pairings? And I don’t see a link to a wine list. Approximate cost if you care to share? Thanks for a great write up and photos - as usual.

I’m excited

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Nice report @J_L. :slight_smile:

From the pics it seems like they totally remodeled the Saam space (looks nothing like it). What did you think of the surprises and tastes compared to Dialogue?

What a night and experience! Vespertine Shmestertine.
I will just add to @J_L’s report that I really loved the way they lined up all 10 plates in the kitchen, then multiple chefs presented them in harmony, often followed by a sauce-pouring front of each diner - it was a Food Ballet of sorts!

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Also this wine was bad ass as hell!

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Thanks for the reports guys, this looks like a must try. Checking my schedule! Always feels so “fun” going to the SLS.

@J_L, @CiaoBob: I assume the wines you are showing reflect the base level wine pairing ($175)? Love the use of Zalto stems. Seems you might get a bit more for your money (based on the prices of the bottles being served) at Dialogue, BUT what is most important is the quality of the pairing itself and whether or not it elevates the food. The pairings at Somni seem more interesting / off the beaten path, with some of the wines not even regularly imported to the U.S. (perhaps therein lies the cost), whereas Dialogue tends to stick to the traditionally famous regions, with a heavy heavy bias towards France. Makes sense that here they would use more Spanish wine and even some Mexican wine.

Great to hear, @DTLAeater! That IS a fun fact about the Sketch bottle!

There are 3 levels of wine pairing options at Somni, and one “Pure” non-alcoholic plant/fruit infusion pairing option ($100).

The “Unique” level pairing, with California & Spain-heavy bottles ($175), the “Prized” pairing, with rare, unusual and eclectic selections ($250), and the “Vintage” pairing, with “the greats” ($500).

What @CiaoBob enjoyed was the “Unique” pairing. I tried the “Pure” non-alcoholic pairing.

Whereas I thought the whole experience at Somni far surpassed my dinner at Dialogue in terms of whimsical elements and straight-up flavor/food deliciousness, the non-alcoholic pairing at Somni was weaker than Dialogue’s non-alcohol pairing. Hope this adds to the discussion.

Great report, as usual.

This is a wide range, but would you say Somni is more like é or Azurmendi or in between?

In any case, looks like a stellar meal.

My subjective answer: Squarely in-between é and Azurmendi, but (as this is a Jose Andres restaurant) veering closer to é on the spectrum.

At Somni, there is less “away-from-the-table theatrics” than Azurmendi. Also I got the sense that the presentation at Somni doesn’t cross the line into “too precious” (as is sometimes the case with a few dishes at Azurmendi).

Thanks for the kind words!

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Apologize, but today I was reading an article on that producer’s wine by chance, and it turns out that it’s a myth that the bottles are aged underwater. Even some large media outlets have been misreporting it unfortunately!

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Co-opting (kind of) J_L’s post to add some new dishes (or variants of the ones already posted above). Thanks, @J_L and @CiaoBob, for the initial report. Glad you two are out there breaking ground for the rest of us.

I agree with J_L’s assessment that the experience at Somni surpassed that of Dialogue. There were times when we could hear the other dinners giggling with enjoyment and oohing-and-aahing over the dishes…something we didn’t really experience at Dialogue

Non-Alcoholic ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ - Bell Pepper, Grapefruit
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I opted for the non-alcoholic pairing which consisted of six “wines” that were each made of grape juice infused for 24 hours with different ingredients that represented different flavor components from the the wines they were trying to emulate and then put into a Spinzall to clarify the juice. While these would never be mistaken for wines, they were pretty delicious and paired well with our meal. That said, I’ll probably opt for a different drink direction next time.

"Foie Gras Wants to be Corn" - Foie Gras, Crispy Chicken Skin
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This one was just added to the menu a couple days ago.

Non-Alcoholic ‘Chardonnay’ - Freeze Dried Pineapple, Baked Green Apple, Grapefruit, Orange
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Live Scallop, Smoked Burrata, Basil Seed, Basil Oil, Buttermilk
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Non-Alcoholic ‘Syrah’ - Tobacco, Strawberry, Blackberry, Blueberry
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"Croissant" - Potato Croissant, Lobster-Mushroom-Hazelnut Cappuccino
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The croissant is basically one long, thin layer of potato that is rolled up, poached in butter, and then baked until crispy. Paired with the well-balanced lobster broth, it was pretty mind-blowing.

Pigtail Curry Bun - Brioche Bun Stuffed w/ Braised Pigtail and Curry (inspired by Thai Red Curry)
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Hibiscus Margarita
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Non-Alcoholic ‘Zinfandel’ - Applewood Chips, Dried Blackberry, Gooseberry
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Kohlrabi Puree, Snap Peas, Truffle Jelly, Mint
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Fried Egg Espuma, Shaved White Truffle, Shaved Cured Egg Yolk, Hokkaido Uni, Black Truffle
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Non-Alcoholic ‘Cabernet’ - Dried Blackberry, Fresh Blackberry, Blueberry, Coconut Flakes, Clove
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28 Day Dry-Aged Kagoshima A5, Sorrel, Roasted Strawberry, Bone Marrow Sauce
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Non-Alcoholic ‘Pinot Noir’ - Blackberry, Strawberry, Vanilla
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Great report back. Chef Aitor’s plating has gotten even more awesome, it would seem… :slight_smile:

Yeah, the meal elicits visceral "mmmmm"s & "Aahhh"s from guests at various times throughout.

Thanks for the report. I have a May reservation and didn’t want to read your post too carefully for fear of ruining the surprise, but I’m sure the dishes will change by then anyway!

:stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue:

The beverage pairing sounds very intriguing, any reason why you will not repeat in the future?

Chef Aitor just returned from a trip to Spain, plus with the bounty of spring produce, it is very likely that there will be several different dishes by next month.

I don’t actually remember what price I had for the non-alcoholic pairing. When J_L went, it was $100, but the current price on the website is $75. I guess it depends on whether or not one feels that $75 for 6 servings of infused grape juice is worth it (albeit very delicious infused grape juice).

Since I’m on the border of ‘lightweight’ when it comes to wine pairings, I was thinking I’d be more likely to try a glass or two of wine a la carte for the entire meal as opposed to a wine pairing.