A reverie of flavor in Beverly Hills

From the mind of acclaimed chef José Andrés comes Somni, a modernist dining room in the heart of SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, A Luxury Collection Hotel. A bespoke horseshoe-shaped counter seats just 10 guests, who are served 20 courses of meticulously plated experimental cuisine.

The stark dining room feels appropriately dream-like — Somni means “dream” in Catalan. A lack of straight lines leaves you unsure of the space’s dimensions and the monochrome palette is only broken up by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel’s multicolored, geometric animal heads.

A pendant light shines a spotlight over each seat, preparing you to be the center of attention as plate after plate of inventive fare is presented for your enjoyment. The meal is like a theater production, as chefs introduce each dish like a star performer. At the end of this fabulous feast, you’ll feel like giving a standing ovation — if you’re not too full.

Our Inspector's Highlights

  • Somni’s intimate 10-seat counter makes you feel like you’re having your own private dinner show. With nearly as many chefs as guests in the restaurant, you practically are.
  • The modern-minimalist dining room features natural elements like wood and marble all in a light, beige tone, keeping the focus on the food. Rounded walls and the U-shaped bar are just disorienting enough to imbue a feeling of dream-like wonder.
  • Chef Aitor Zabala’s modernist creations are delightfully whimsical. Expect savory versions of sweet treats (traditional mille-feuille ingredients are replaced with crispy chicken skin layered with bacon cream) and cow-shaped crackers are served alongside a cheese course.
  • Don’t skip the wine pairings. Beautiful vintages (mostly Spanish) are masterfully selected by the L.A. restaurant’s head sommelier, Brandon Miradi, to complement Zabala’s plates.
  • The only sources of color in the otherwise monochrome dining room are a trio of prismatic animal heads from Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel, a fish tank from which your seafood specialties are plucked and, of course, the artfully presented plates placed under a spotlight.

Things to Know

  • Rather than standard reservations, the Beverly Hills restaurant releases tickets on the first Monday of every month for the following month’s seatings.
  • Somni is a bit hidden within SLS Beverly Hills. Stroll through Bazaar’s dessert bar to find the unmarked door that will lead you into this unusual restaurant.
  • There are three wine-pairing options (and one non-alcoholic) to accompany Zabala’s ever-evolving menu, as well as a full-page selection of half-bottles to ensure you find the right accompaniment.

The Food

  • Dishes change frequently, but the meal’s structure is fairly consistent. The evening begins with a few palate-teasers, like crispy butterfly-shaped potato chips with onion dip followed by a liquid nitrogen frozen bubble of avocado, tequila and habanero liqueur.
  • Molecular gastronomy features heavily here — a slice of pizza is made from powdered egg whites and clarified tomato meringue, topped with mozzarella mousse and basil leaves.
  • Mid-meal surprises keep the audience on their toes. A past indulgence included a strawberry-shaped mound of cocoa butter packed with Aperol, strawberry puree and vermouth, otherwise known as a strawberry Negroni.
  • While all dishes feature some measure of whimsy, a few more familiar staples might include tuna tartare with smoked bone marrow and caviar or dry-aged beef tartare.

The Chef

  • The kitchen is helmed by Barcelona-born chef Zabala, who helped create Somni alongside Andrés. The toque also ran the L.A. restaurant’s predecessor Saam for eight years.
  • After growing up in his mother and grandmother’s restaurants in Barcelona, Zabala joined the army, where he ended up in the kitchen. After a month, he realized he loved cooking and decided to go to culinary school.
  • Zabala is an alumnus of Ferran Adrià’s now-shuttered El Bulli, long considered one of the top restaurants in the world. Adrià’s influence can be seen in the cerebral plates presented at Somni.

Private dining
Reservations required
Valet parking
Getting There
465 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90048