Review: At 71Above, the view of L.A. is even prettier than the food
This review, I’m guessing, is going to start with a parsnip, a fat, late-winter example of the pale root vegetable that Vartan Abgaryan has cooked, glazed with duck fat, and buried under a heap of flowers at his restaurant 71Above. What looks like powdered sugar is crumbly powdered duck fat, made using a modernist technique popular in the last decade. There is a scoop of chilled lebneh, thick yogurt, and bits of herbs and roasted pistachio are scattered over the vegetable.
It looks like an elaborate dessert. But if you don’t think too carefully about the particular sweetness of the parsnip, it carries many of the sensations of eating duck: the slight crackle, the richness, the fleshiness of the vegetable and the multidimensional fragrance of duck fat. The dish is a wee bit dated (the cool kids leave out the animal these days), but it is also kind of a tour de force, a splendid new dish.
Unless you have remarkable powers of concentration, you will notice none of this.