71 Above, a Downtown Los Angeles fine dining establishment situated at almost 1,000 feet above ground level, is the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi.  Last October, I happened to drive by the skyscraper and thought it would be fun to survey the space and the food without a reservation.  (A reservation is highly recommended, of course.)  I ended up spending 3 hours–from late afternoon till nightfall–on the 71st floor; the signature prix fixe, the ambience, and the views all exceeded my expectation.

Desserts flavored with tea have gained tremendous popularity in recent years; however, it is not so common to see “tea” specified in the dessert menus of high-end culinary operations everywhere.  That evening at 71 Above I savored Earl Grey: layered custard and shortbread garnished with brown butter powder, honeyed Meyer lemon gelée, and a scoop of lemon sorbet redolent of a cocoon (this shape seems to be many chefs’ current choice when presenting house-made sorbet and ice cream).  What happened to the more appetizing old-fashioned ball scoop?  Custard was of course the only “tea” component of Earl Grey, a perfect coda for culinary moments in a cosmopolis that had just started to scintillate with street lamps and rush hours’ freeway lights beaming like laser.

I could not contain my excitement when a helicopter flew by and was delighted while imagining a UFO in the sky, formed by the shining utensil’s reflection on the window glass.  The next time I dine at 71 Above, I hope to sit at the Edge Table, with views of Santa Monica and Pacific Ocean.

Earl Grey is no longer listed in 71 Above’s dessert menu?  What happened?

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