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Jonathan Gold Really Liked Vespertine, After All

The LA Times critic ranked it No. 1 on his list of 101 best restaurants

Photo by Jeff Elstone / courtesy Vespertine
Monica Burton is the deputy editor of

Any question as to whether or not LA Times critic Jonathan Gold loved Jordan Kahn’s wizard’s tower of a restaurant can end now: Vespertine scored the top spot on Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants.

The annual list ranks Gold’s favorite restaurants from his past year of dining. Gold, LA’s most recognizable food critic, doesn’t write starred reviews; instead he describes dishes in minute detail, often without definitively declaring whether a restaurant is good or bad. And in his September review of Vespertine, already one of the most baffling restaurants to arrive in LA (via spaceship, Kahn would like us to believe), Gold’s feelings weren’t entirely clear.

In the review of Kahn’s ambitious tasting menu experiment, Gold hailed Vespertine as more than a restaurant — “It's not dinner; it's Gesamtkunstwerk,” he said. But ultimately, he was left confused after the hours-long meal. Gold wrote: “I still have no idea whether Vespertine was designed to function as a restaurant or as an architectural folly by Eric Owen Moss; a dining room or an art installation; a showcase for the ceramics of Ryota Aoki or a stage for an extremely ambient soundtrack by the Texas post-rock band This Will Destroy You, three or four thrumming notes that will follow you around for hours.”

Today, it seems, he has a better idea: Vespertine is indeed a restaurant — and the best one of the year, at that.

Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants [LA Times]
What the Critics Are Saying About Vespertine, Jordan Kahn’s New Tasting Menu Experiment [E]