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PROVECHO FINALLY OPENS UP DOWNTOWN 

By Michael Hepworth

For five years chef Gabriel Morales applied his trade and built up a solid reputation at Republic Restaurant in West Hollywood, but now he is the majority owner in a new 5100 square fool place called Provecho in downtown Los Angeles . It is an upscale but not  over-priced Mexican/ceviche restaurant with an emphasis on tequila pairings from the 96 varieties that the bar offers. House tequila will be Casadores, but make sure you check with the servers on some of the more interesting varieties available.

Hard core food critics have been anticipating the opening for some time, and wonder how it will compare to Casa and Rivera, both upscale Nuevo-Latina restaurants that will be open soon ( if not already). Initial reviews from numerous food web sites and blogs have been mixed at best, with comments about the expensive sub-par food, sloppy service and the over corporate feel about the dining room. Of course this will be a hangout for power lunches and after dinner drinks and tacos for the corporate crowd, but my prediction is that Provecho will be a big hit.

Originally from Jalisco and later on Alhambra , chef now has the luxury of a spacious open kitchen that he can check on at any time, and it is fronted by a waterfall that really captures the mood of the restaurant. Horrendous construction delays and permit issues forced the restaurant to open late, and although chef is reluctant to discuss the cost overruns, they must have been substantial.

It took over 18 months for Gabrielís dream to become a reality, and the result is a complex menu prepared by the chef and his well trained team in a very comfortable atmosphere that also features a ceviche bar that will be up and running in February 2009. This might be a first in any restaurant, and it complements the dishes that are not even on the menu at this time such as the Butter Poached Australian Lobster with fried quail eggs, or the Kobe Beef Sorbet.

However the standout dish on my initial visit was the El Pastor Pork served with crispy shallot rings, and a spicy sauce that really brought out the flavor. If you are looking for something slightly more basic, I was assured that the Tamales, Tacoís and Mexican salads were outstanding. Another dish causing an early stir is the Lobster chile rellenos with a fiery cream sauce.

With a separate pastry chef in the kitchen who hails from Lebanon , the desserts here are more than just an afterthought, and were on a par with the rest of the tasting menu that I tried.

Fact Sheet

 

Address: 800 Wilshire Blvd , Los Angeles

Phone: (213) 489-1406

Dinner for two $70

Hours: Open 11am to 11pm every day except Sundays

Parking: not available

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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