I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Orsa and Winston restaurant. The reviews I read on Yelp were between super excited and ‘meh’. All I knew was that I had to try it out for myself. How did I know this? Well, simple. I love Chef Centeno’s Baco sandwich, and I love his Bar Ama Mexican place. I knew there was a good chance I am going to love this, but I really wanted to not get my hopes up. I hate it when I have high expectations that then get crapped on.
I am happy to say that Orsa and Winston is wonderful. It is a breath of fresh air in the middle of DTLA. Sure, lots of other restaurants could be compared to it, and yeah – maybe those comparisons are on point and called for. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. For me, it really was a breath of fresh air. A mix of gourmet Italian and Japanese? Yes, please!
Chef Josef Centeno
Chef Centeno is an artist. He did it with his previous two restaurants, and he did it here again. And this place is completely different than the first two places he opened up. By the way, his first two restaurants are not far away from this one. Another by the way? This restaurant is named after his dogs. You gotta love that, right? To me, it shows that even after all is said and done, there is a part of him that doesn’t take things too seriously.
Orsa & Winston is serious, though. Serious eats. It is an experience to be had. You walk in there – walk ins are accommodated, but it is best to reserve a table – and it’s this tiny place. The restaurant seats just over 30 people, and because it is so small there is a lot to get out of it. It means that those of us who are lucky enough to be sitting there are getting the best possible service that there is. And it is actually true – the service is great. This is actually something which stayed constant on the different yelp reviews. The staff is great and friendly.
The menu is a rotating one, and no two menus are the same. It changes on a daily basis, so you never know what exactly you are going to see when you arrive. The place has the option of a six-course menu, 10-course tasting menu, and even – upon inquiry – a 20-course tasting menu. Wine pairing are available, and corkage (with a fee) is allowed for a single bottle, providing it does not appear on the wine list, which by the way is quite extensive. All you wine enthusiasts out there can be happy with the knowledge that the pairings are great.
Open Kitchen policy at Orsa and Winston
An open kitchen is always a cool thing to witness, and Orsa and Winston is no exception. Chef Centeno commands his kitchen with grace, and the dishes coming out of it are – for lack of a better word – perfect. I read a few reviews that said that the food was so-so, but in my opinion this was not the case. It is probably because of my palate. I am, by my own admission, less picky. But hey, this usually works to my advantage.
My experience was a great one. Your mileage may vary. I left that little eatery with a smile on my face and a gourmet song in my heart. Orsa and Winston also serves lunch, and I think I would want to go back there for that. It seems like an interesting thing to experience in the middle of the day.
Orsa and Winston is another example of what can happen when a good chef meets a good crew. The restaurant works, and not just because of some silly DTLA hype. Hype doesn’t last. You know what does? Skill. Talent. Imagination. Creativity. Chef Centeno has shown, time and again, that he has what it takes to open up any kind of food joint, and make it into the best thing around. I am sure he serves as an inspiration for many aspiring chefs.
The restaurant itself is modern, chic, and pretty spacious considering the amount of people it can sit. It’s quiet and peaceful, and that is definitely something worth mentioning. A cozy environment, a nice glass of wine, great food, and good company. Some people don’t get to experience that too often. When you show up at a place like Orsa and Winston, don’t expect anything else. Come with high hopes, because – unless someone is having an off night – chances are that it will exceed your expectations. Fine dining at its finest.