Every birthday is special, but as my husband’s 50th birthday drew near, I knew that I was really going to have to up the ante for a special celebration. Whatever we did was going to have to be something extraordinary. And as lifetime fans of classical music, I decided that nothing would say “extraordinary” quite like going to see the LA Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert hall. What an exciting idea, as neither of us had ever been there before!
We wanted a nice evening with dinner before our show, but since we were going to be taking a cab to the Philharmonic, I checked to see if there were any restaurants in the vicinity of the theatre. A quick Google search yielded great results – I found a place called “Patina” which was actually located right inside the hall itself!
I needed this night to be perfect with no mistakes. I decided to make a reservation, because I wasn’t sure if we would be able to walk in and still get a table. I went online to find the restaurant’s phone number, but while I was on the website, I noticed that I could just make a reservation directly from the site. I made a reservation for 2 and hoped for the best.
In the Heart of Walt Disney
Patina is located in the heart of the Walt Disney Concert hall, making it a popular place for everyone to go to before or after their event. The hall is in Downtown LA, and since this is such a famous area, the restaurant within has the added advantage of valet parking – plus the opportunity to see all kinda of people you wouldn’t normally see on a regular day. Dining in the restaurant, you’ll never know who you could meet!
Who started this place?
Joachim Splichal, the owner and chef of Patina Restaurant Group, was born and raised in Spaichingen, Germany. At the age of 18, he started working in the hotel industry. In his early twenties, Splichal decided to move to France in order to begin his culinary training. He worked as a saucier at La Bonne Auberge, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the southeastern French town of Antibes. At age 23, Splichal was hired as a sous chef by Jacques Maximin to work at the Chantecler restaurant in the Hotel Negresco in Nice. Jacques Maximin became Splichal’s mentor, and during this period, Splichal began to win many culinary awards. He won the “Youngest and Most Creative Chef” title from the Cercle Epicurean Society. Splinchal has mentored other great chefs, including Chef Megan Logan, who spent 4 1/2 years at Patina and ultimately earned herself the rank of sous chef. (Logan currently works at Cafe Pinot, another great restaurant in the area to check out).
The current executive chef of Patina is Paul Lee, a Taiwanese-born, Orange County resident who contributes substantially to Patina’s fine-dining experience. Lee has worked alongside some of the most acclaimed chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants from across the country. He brings a fresh perspective to Patina Restaurant, thanks to his finesse for classical French techniques and artful presentations, combined with his penchant for bold flavors inspired by a lifelong exposure to an array of diverse cultural cuisines.
His culinary story began at home at the age of 10, under the supervision and guidance of his grandmother, who taught him the cornerstone lesson on how to hold a knife as well as the importance of seasoning. Lee went on to attend the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, and obtained the position of chef de partie at the famed L’Orangerie restaurant in Hollywood, CA, just before his graduation.
The Real Deal
Walking into the Walt Disney Concert Hall, you’ll instantly have the feeling that you aren’t in Kansas anymore. The building is HUGE and the architecture is phenomenal. That said, it wasn’t surprising for such a famous hall to look so magnificent. What I wasn’t expecting was for the restaurant to look just as nice.
I have to say that the overall feeling inside the restaurant was spacious and open, which is something I really loved. It’s hard to enjoy your meal when you feel like you’re eating on top of someone else. The overall ambience of the place was just nice and airy.
There are a few options when it comes to seating. There are tables in the middle of the restaurant, or if you’d rather sit towards the wall, there is more of an intimate circular couch seating arrangement. My husband and I chose to sit on the couches because it looked to be the most comfortable. We noticed later that there is also the option of a “private dining room”, and something called the “Chef’s room” for large parties or special events.
Patina’s interior design is a bit old-fashioned and very classy. Inside, the walls were covered with wood and had a nice orange color, which gave the dining room a very warm vibe. Hanging from the ceiling are nice light fixtures which make the room look bigger. Even as the sun slowly set, the interior of the room remained white and bright.
The waiting staff was warm and welcoming from the moment we walked in. They remained attentive at all points of the meal b frequently asking if there was anything else we needed. It’s hard to find a good balance of being helpful without being too overbearing, and I was impressed to see that the staff at Patina Restaurant really were able to strike a happy medium.
They took our orders, and in no time at all brought us exactly what we wanted. Everything was presented in a beautiful manner. We were impressed by the service, and the staff’s kindness added a great deal to our night. It’s not common to find genuine hard-working staff, so when I do see it, I always make sure to express my appreciation not only to my particular waiter or waitress, but to the restaurant’s manager as well.
My favorite part of my meal was the different menus to choose from. Patina Restaurant Group offers a variety of different menus that can appeal to just about everyone. A few of the available menus include:
- 3 & 5 course Vegetarian Menu
- Chef’s tasting menu
- Wine Menu
- Cocktail List
- Teas and Coffee
- After Dinner Drinks
Something which I had never seen before was a WATER MENU. I was so impressed by the elegance! At first I thought it was a joke, because let’s be honest, how many different waters can one place offer? To my surprise, there were different fresh waters from all over the world! Patina is one of the few restaurants in LA that offer such a fine variety of waters. Take a look at some of the water menu offerings for yourself:
Canada – Berg
Denmark – Iskilde
Fiji Islands – Fiji
France – Badoit, Evian, Perrier, Saint Geron
Germany – Apollinaris, Gerolsteiner
Italy – Acqua Panna, Ferrarelle, S. Pellegrino
Norway – Voss
Spain – Vichy Catalan
United Kingdom – Hildon
United States – American Summits, Beverly Hills 9OH2O, Mountain Valley Spring, Saratoga, Waiakea
With each water, the menu provided a picture and detailed information about its history. It’s easy to get carried away with that menu so make sure not to look for too long!
For my appetizer, I had the duck tortellini – I really love duck. It was great and the meat was particularly flavorful. Enveloped in the pasta and covered in sauce, I would say that the creaminess was the perfect touch. Options for bread were olive, baguette, and 7 grain – although the portions are quite large, these bread were a delicious way to start out our meal. I ordered the 7 grain – the least exotic of the bunch – and it was quite nice.
Atlantic Cod – I have to say that there were some interesting flavors within the Atlantic cod and lemongrass emulsion, served on a bed of potatoes. The fish was perfectly cooked, and with every bite I felt like it melted in my mouth. This was by far my favorite dish!
Sea urchin custard casserole – like most popular French dishes, it’s served as a soup-like dish with lots of foam. There is a large quantity of sea urchin inside when you fish around with your spoon. Not too hard, not too soft – great consistency. For those of you who are new to eating sea urchin, just know that it’s an acquired taste.
Poached Maine lobster- I’m not the biggest fan of lobster, so my husband ordered this. According to what he said, he sounded pleased with his choice of food. What really made it unique was the combination of spinach, mushrooms, and some sort of textured pasta paired together with the lobster.
Coconut custard – generally speaking, I don’t love anything that has to do with coconut, but this looked really interesting to me and I knew that I had to try it. I ended up liking this dessert a lot! It was deceptively simple. The display was beautiful. The coconut custard together with the passion fruit sorbet made me feel like I was on a tropical island. The sweetness was cut by the nutty black sesame nougatine, which was just the right twist to enhance the flavors in this dessert. This is something I wish I could eat every day!
My husband decided to get the chocolate and caramel, which was overall pretty good (yes, I did sneak a taste!). The chocolate is a dark ganache wrapped in a crunchy outer chocolate layer.
For my first drink, I chose the Concerto XO – it came with some sprinkles on top, which only disguises the fact that this is a seriously strong cocktail with a large amount of bourbon! My husband and I both agreed that although this was the prettiest cocktail we had ordered, we don’t know if we would order it again due to its strong taste. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys bourbon and has a high tolerance for alcohol.
The second drink I ordered was L’Envision (gin and watermelon). It was a really nice shade of pink and was brought out with a basil leaf on top, which gave it a great smell. Neither of us particularly likes gin, but this was delicious! Overall, the drinks were impressive.
I truly enjoyed my experience at Patina Restaurant Group – the ambience is sophisticated, the food is delicious, and the service is top-notch. You’ll often find that expensive restaurants don’t translate to expensive quality and taste; however, this was not the case here. The food was totally worth the price, in my opinion. If I had to give this restaurant a rating, it would be a shining 5 stars! I really enjoyed every minute that I was there. It was really a relaxing and delicious meal before the show. Everything that was done in Patina was elegant and superb. Patina adds a great deal to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for an amazing dining experience to add to their night . It’s hard to say which I enjoyed more, the Philharmonic or dinner at Patina Restaurant!