Where do I begin telling you about my amazing experience at Rivera Restaurant?
Schamata invited me out to Rivera last week, as she’s BFF with the owners. I didn’t really have any expectations. Well, sure Schamata forwarded me the LA Times review, in which Irene Virbila gave Rivera a 3.5 star, but I didn’t bother reading it. Virbila gave Bazaar a 4-star, in which I was mortified how small Bazaar’s mediocre food portions were to the prices. Plus the molecular gastronomy food is a bit gimmicky for me where there’s too much emphasis on the food prep instead of the taste.
I’ll admit I was bit nervous dining with one of the owners, because what happens if I hated their food? I am a terrible liar when it comes to food. I subwayed it since Rivera is only 4 blocks south of the 7th Metro stop. As I entered the posh restaurant, the maître d’ greeted me and directed me to Schamata and E where they have been munching on the tortillas florales (housemade nixtamal tortillas, “Indian Butter” $6) and I believe the patates xips (cavier, chipotle-lime crema, kennebec potato chips $6).
The tortillas florales were absolutely gorgeous; I love the idea of pressing flowers into the tortillas. You can watch them make them as you head to the bathroom.
The “Indian butter” is the silkiest guacamole I’ve ever had. I thought there was a butter called “Indian butter”….shows how much I cook….The combo was delicious; in fact I wouldn’t mind eating them separately.
I should have asked if the tortilla/ sauce appetizer was the patates xips, but in any case, it’s the only thing remotely close to the food description. Feel free to correct me. The chipotle sauce was amazing –not too spicy. The chef made us an extra salad!
The three starter dishes were a good start, and they showed what Chef Jose Rivera Sedlar is all about: painting his white canvas with delectable food. The drinks mirror the food presentation as well.
Drinks are made the by the talented bartender/mixologist Julian Cox, who E said they snagged from Comme Ca.
Schamata was sipping on a Blood Sugar Sex Magic (rye whisky, red pepper, agave nectar, basil, $14) and with a drink named that, it is obvious why she loved it...I’m not much of a fan of whiskey…or tequila which is the main liquor in most of their specialty drinks here as Chef Jose Rivera Sedlar was Patron’s spokesperson for a decade, but you can switch the liquor to your tasting and for me, that’s vodka. I must have been a Russian in my former life.
I went for the Purple Rain (vodka, violet, ginger, rosewater, Thai basil $10). Bella! Purple Rain is a must –especially if you’re a Prince fan.
I’m a huge fan of their tequila chairs and the community table, which is perfect for people who dine by themselves. E explained that Eddie Sotto was determined to finish designing the tequila chairs before anything else and it paid off!
I loved how the “R” in Rivera was incorporated into their interior designs.
We ordered the bacalao negro fresco (seared black cod, serrano ham crisp, $14) and the playa bar seviche (ahi tuna, serranos, lime, avocado, $12) for our appetizers. The bacalao negro fresco was to die for --they even designed a gas mask next to the cod!
The ahi tuna was fresh and had such a pretty color against the avocado.
Our wait time for our entrees was bit long…luckily the appetizers held us off. As we waited, I went for the Sabertooth (cachaca, eau de vie, blueberries, $12), which is supposed to be like a blueberry mojito, minus the mint and simple sugar.
It was slightly to bitter for me, so I had to pass it off to E. I ordered the Strawberry Fields (instead of blanco tequila, it was vodka velvet falernum, strawberries, cucumber, mint, $15). Yum!
I love Rivera’s drinks! I also like the idea of using one big ice cube so it will melt slower.
Finally our entrees arrived; I’m not exaggerating. E was about to get up and ask where the entrees were… I went for the trucha (Tasmanian sea trout, saffron quinoa, yellow gazpacho sauce, $23), which was delicious. Some people might think it’s like a salmon but it’s a lot less fishy.
Schamata went for the pollo con citricos (pan roasted chicken, citrus, carrots, wilted spinach, $22). I loved the designs they create.
I wondering if that’s why our entrees took forever, but it looks like they prepare the designs in advance.
E ordered the mole without pork chop as she’s a vegetarian. Rivera’s mole is tasty; I found another restaurant where I don’t hate the mole.
For desserts, the torta xocolata (chocolate torte, drunken pineapple, $7 – all desserts are $7) was an easy sale for me. As Schmata puts it, I got my “O.” Heaven. It was very rich yet at the same light; I had room for another slice...but decided not to. Schamata ordered a plate of cheese. All very good.
At the end of our meal, I got the grand tour of the restaurant. E explained how they acquired six-year aged anejo tequila, creating their own “Rivera” tequila, storing all the bottles on the “tequila” wall.
The only way to try their exclusive six-year aged anejo is by paying a hefty tequila membership at the cost of $2,000 for two bottles or knows someone who owns the bottles. You get your name etched on the bottle and it’s locked on the wall—the big spender wall.
I lucked out and tried some from E’s bottle. I normally can’t drink tequila; I usually gag and have the need to vomit...but wow, their tequila was amazing! I’ll admit a gagged briefly, but the scent was so hypnotizing that it went down pretty smooth and it burned too.
I also got to check out the back kitchen where the pastry chef and cooks, staff are working hard, and of course to meet Chef Jose Rivera Sedlar himself! When we congratulated him of the big success, I was impressed that his response was, “it’s because of the staff.” I thought all chefs have a Napoleon complex? I guess that's why the staff is so happy at Rivera.
I took a few more food photos while I was in the back kitchen. I just loved presentation, and he also likes to play with heights.
Maya Puerco Pibil Sous Vide (banana leaf braised pork shoulder, peruvian potatos) $22
I don't know what dish this is...maybe the fish of the day?
Estudio En Flan (3 different styles of the classic dessert w/ 3 complementary sauces)
I am guessing that this is where the Jamon Iberico de Bellota Pata Negra (world's finest ham) comes from...??? $44
Thanks for Schamata for paying for the meal and E and everyone at Rivera for the amazing time!
I am definitely coming back on a Thursday, Friday, or a Saturday where the bar food are all under $12 and cocktails start at $8 from 10:30PM to 12AM.
Address: 1050 S Flower St #102 Los Angeles, CA 90015
Phone#: (213) 749-1460
Rating: 5 out of 5