Atmosphere of the Year Winner: Vespertine

Vespertine has won the Atmosphere of the Year category, which considers restaurant service, acoustics and overall ambience.

Vespertine exterior
Vespertine interior

More spaceship than restaurant, its warped red steel exoskeleton four stories tall, Vespertine appears like a hallucinogenic sci-fi dream brought to life: an insane architectonic utopia on the industrial outskirts of LA, in Culver City.

All of this to feed 25 each night. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a trip, a deep-dive into a hypnotising, nature-oriented cuisine. Expect haunting food from outer space. It’s a meditation chamber, where you can float outside of time, dining and gliding on the ambient soundscape that the Texan band This Will Destroy You was commissioned to compose.

Our inspection team noted that Vespertine “created an entirely new world within the state of California, thinking of every last detail, resulting in a completely singular experience. Jordan Kahn’s Vespertine is the purest expression of the labyrinthic mind, a one-of-a-kind chef. Think Stanley Kubrick, think David Lynch, two spiritual mentors always ahead of their time.”

This is not a restaurant for those who think restaurants only exist to feed people and anything else is pretentiousness. This is definitely one for those who think restaurants can transcend their primary purpose, become art and be a multi-sensory installation that can feed the mind as well as the body.

It’s a disruptive, divisive experience and one that doesn’t come cheap at $250 per head, prepaid online, before adding drinks and service. But for those who can connect with what Kahn is trying – and succeeding – to achieve, it’s an experience worth the cost.

Vespertine aperitif
Vespertine dish