Cover image: Cal Mare by Frank Wonho Lee.
While we await the megawatt openings of Tess next to The Jeremy hotel and AKA on Sunset, along with the full menu from Tartine Bakery, here are a few new and exceptional dining options around town, and we added Santa Monica and downtown for when you need a day or night break.
The MINA Group has finally landed in town and injected a much-needed culinary buzz into the Beverly Center. The modern Mediterranean décor is a homage to the perfect marriage of the Italian coast and California. Chef-partner Adam Sobel has collaborated with Michael Mina (his San Francisco namesake restaurant is one of our all-time favorites), to create a menu that features discoveries through the coastal regions of Lazio, Campania, Sicilia and Puglia, and the hillsides surrounding Rome. Some of those standouts include the fresh mozzarella that can be topped with your choice of caviar, focaccia with basil pesto and parmigiano fonduta, charcoal grilled wild fish, cuttlefish crudo or handmade gnocchi with Dungeness crab, sea urchin, butternut squash and truffle, but the showstopper is the carbonara brick oven pizza with potato and black pepper that is drizzled with a pecorino and egg mixture topping tableside. You can expect a bevy of Italian wines by sommelier Rajat Parr to pair and the limoncello cart (yes, that’s right) with house-made selections that you can sample at the end of the meal. And, don’t stress about navigating the mall if you want to pop by for a quick aperitivo from 4-6 pm daily, there is a valet direct to the restaurant from the first floor. Pure perfection all the way around. https://www.michaelmina.net/restaurants/southern-california/calmare/
189 by Dominique Ansel
Finally, we have our own long cronut line to wade through at The Gove, just like in New York. But, we also have the cronut creators largest culinary project in the world and his first foray into the savory world with 189 by Dominique Ansel. The ground floor features a patisserie with a white peach amaretto cronut made specially for the opening, along with a drool-worthy cases loaded with carbs and confections. Upstairs holds the airy fine dining restaurant with greenery installations and golden etched wall murals where fried chicken, lobster rolls (during brunch) and duck or salmon confit (during dinner) are stars on the menu. Start your meal with Ansel’s new baked ‘home run’ in the form of soft pull-apart sweet corn “Elotes” milk bread filled with a sweet corn pudding, served inside a corn husk and topped with Cotija cheese, chili and lime that you can only experience in LA. www.DominiqueAnselLA.com
Petit Taqueria and Ainoko
The h. wood Group has opened a fun Mexican eatery, Petite Taqueria, next door to their Poppy nightclub in the old Bagatelle space. The bay scallop tostada and smoked potato taquitos with gouda and avocado salsa are all good to order with a salty margarita, but the real culinary star is upstairs at what appears to be a sushi bar. Chef John Carlos Kuramoto has cooked at Michael’s and Mozza but drew from his childhood recipes with Japanese-Mexican grandparents in his home town of Monterey Park to create ‘Ainoko’ which is the first Mexican omakase tasting menu in the city. Graze through a technique and flavor profile driven 10-course menu prepared by the chef with a ring-side seat that spans from charred white corn soup to a Japanese wagyu taco and a grill presentation on a mini-cast iron hibachi with Thai charcoal. Seating is limited for this very special and intimate experience, so be sure to plan ahead. www.petitetaqueria.com
Michelin-star Chef Paul Shoemaker (formerly of Bastide) is back in West Hollywood/Beverly Hills to turn up the volume at The Flats on Wilshire just off of restaurant row. The loveable chef brings his quirky foie gras edible dime bags, famous fried olives, with whipped cremè fraiche and Meyer lemon gastrique, crispy Hen of Woods mushrooms with tempura to the now lively bar and open dining area. Flat bread pizzas (hence the name), include the “five meats”, topped with pepperoni, bresaola, duck prosciutto, chorizo, and Finocchiona salami. Marcus Tello’s cocktails are equally eye-opening and original from the carrot “white Russian” with espresso liqueur, carrot cream and vodka to the mushrooms “Brooklyn” with candy cap mushroom-infused rye whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and cynar for an earthy elixir. www.theflatsrestaurant.com
Bibo Ergo Sum
As part of the Robertson Plaza revamp, LA native Tait Forman took his first solo foray into the cocktail world with the opening of Bibo Ergo Sum – Latin translation: I drink therefore I am. Taking inspiration from Korea Town’s The Walker Inn and The Normandie Club, the speakeasy style room is dominated by a massive round bar surrounded by intimate side tables. Cocktails are broken into three sections inspired by the components of a magic trick: the pledge, the turn, and the prestige (from the film of the same name), with menu diagrams offering further explanation along the way. Tipples include margarita with cinnamon, French curaçao, & dehydrated orange salt to a deconstructed dirty martini served with a sidecar of olive leaf soda. This will be your new favorite bar. biboergosumla.com
Lume by celebrated Melbourne Chef Shaun Quade is scouting locations in West Hollywood for his theatrical dining concept to open (fingers crossed) by the summer of 2018.
Fans of Chef Nyesha Arrington formerly of Leona and Wilshire can relax. NATIVE is open the former Santa Monica Yacht Club spot with her best comfort food renditions to date and a relaxed-yet-glam setting by Breegan Jane (who also was behind the interiors of Leona). The menu was curated with fresh, seasonal ingredients from local purveyors such as Weiser Farm, Maggie’s Farm, Coleman Family Farms, Cooks Garden, and Tehachapi Grain Project, amongst others. Menu musts from this bounty come in the form of a short rib rolled dumplings in a charred onion and beef jus with Brussels sprouts, along with lamb meatballs, kobocha squash (order together) and Oregon albacore with crushed capers. It’s best to share multiple plates either on the patio or at the bar. Which brings us to the standout cocktails by Adam Flamenbaum (Spring, Cannibal) such as the “Overcast ‘Til 2” made with Mulholland gin, Ricard, maraschino and Fee Brothers cherry bitters; and the “Palisades Park Swizzle” with Lost Spirits Navy strength rum, Rhum JM and Amaro Angeleno. www.eatnative.la.
Yes, there has been a slight Aussie invasion in Santa Monica with a Great White Café and Bondi Harvest but don’t get it twisted. Little Ruby is not a breakfast spot for surfers or lunch café for a studio. Partners Nick Mathers brought West Hollywood the beloved Eveleigh and Goldie’s and has brought in Tim Sykes and chef Thomas Lim (also from Goldie’s), who have serious industry chops and have opened a fully comprehensive restaurant with plenty of dinner options. This is not to say you can’t enjoy an early morning fry up or a fried chicken sandwich topped with coleslaw at lunch, but try the ‘Rag Bol’ pasta with pepper-zuchhini Bolognese, the crispy rice bowl with haloumi, fried egg and veggies or the Bronte burger with a sweet chili sauce on a magnificent brioche bun from Bread Lounge, followed by a sticky date pudding, along with a strong wine list or a cocktail that will last long after the beachside sunset or sunrise. www.littleruby.com
Former Ludo accomplice for 16-years, Chef Sydney Hunter III, also worked with Walter Manzke and, most recently at Kettle Black in Silver Lake, is killing the downtown game with his hyper-seasonal menu at Testa near L.A. Live in the South Park division. The market fresh food with heavy Italian influences includes blistered Lake green beans with Calabrian chile paste (made in-house), avocado, grilled pineapple; crispy polenta with roasted yellow corn, tomatillo poblano, spiced aioli and cotija cheese; spaghetti with sea urchin, katsuobushi and dashi or Niman Ranch porchetta with cannellini beans and garlic confit. This is also the home of the Crack Berry LaCroix cocktail with vodka and raspberry created by Devon Espinosa and served in the can, topped with fresh fruit, which can be enjoyed at the bar or somewhere amid the 120-seat indoor-outdoor space. www.testadtla.com