Oftentimes the best way to describe something is to describe it by what it’s not, like Michael Mina’s
newest restaurant, XIV, slated to open October 16th in Los Angeles, California. It’s not fine dining and it’s not family-style. Though it is small plates, the food isn’t meant for sharing. He’s calling it social dining and not casual dining.
There is only one price for each dish on the menu —$8 per person —and the table must order the same items much like a family-style menu, only the food comes out individually plated and on a tray placed in the center of the table. Diners will have to pull their own plates. The following courses arrive in a continuous stream, in the same manner—a create-your-own-tasting menu, of sorts. No more portioning, no serving, no sharing. It’ll have the customary multi-course tasting menu options, but courses won’t be interspersed with cumbersome silverware swap-outs; eating utensils simply arrive with the food and on the tray.
Running the lines are chef Steven Fretz, protege of chef/restauranteur George Morrone, and trailblazing pastry chef, Jordan Kahn, whose resume includes the French Laundry, Per Se, and Alinea. XIV will be Mina’s fourteenth restaurant in the US, one of which is Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point.
What this is not, is a reinvention of Mina's cuisine, showcased in a new restaurant (although the dining room captures a 17th century castle—designed by Philippe Starck—warmed with fireplaces and bookshelves and tempered by a modern stainless steal wall that stages the bar area). Mina’s doing what he does best—refined American cuisine—while taking the formality out of upscale dining.
XIV’s opening is also timely as consumer spending is down and food and energy prices elevated; diners need options to help keep the economy growing. Sometimes changing the cuisine is just not enough. And XIV’s dining style should fill the gaps between the upscale, the small-plates, and casual outlets. This new dining approach shows that cuisine is far from saturated—in concept, in technique, and in dining.