How do you blog about what will certainly be the most blogged about restaurant of the season? You try to convey nuances that might get lost amidst the glossy photos and detailed descriptions of “one of the finest meals ever” boasted by other blogs.
Weak excuse, but we’ve yet to master the subtle art of inconspicuously photographing food in a mood-lit restaurant. Thanks for your patience. Praise to Noah Kalina for his excellent work in the field.
1. The ambiance, atmosphere and staff make this an extremely fun restaurant. It either had to do with the sheer excitement LA people feel when the term “opening” is tossed around or the positive vibe from the staff of mostly-New Yorkers spending their winter in globally-warmed Los Scandalous. Either way I’ve never seen so much inter-table conversing. It should be noted that many restaurants riding this much hype cram in as many uncomfortably placed tables as possible (I’m talking to you Mr Chow). Yes this does promote neighborly conversations, but it’s most often ‘excuse me while I slide my ass across your dinner plate while I make my way to the restroom’. Yet even with comfortable table placement, there still was way more friendliness than traffic-adled LA usually produces (shocking and fear-inspiring as it may be). Personally, we liked the camaraderie and met two cool new people; new to us, new to LA and new to food blogging.
2. Kirsten Dunst and George Christy were there. Take that for what you will.
3. We had to wait for our table, which is to be expected on opening night. Increased attention from the floor manager, made up for it.
4. The location has been home to many failed restaurants. Lying east of AOC/Grace/Little Door/etc, it’s not out of the way, but not in the thick of it either. Neighbor Red Pearl Kitchen should benefit from spillover business. Someone should take advantage of the street’s new attraction and open a new bar in former nightclub AD’s spot just north on Highland.
5. And now, the meal:
- Wine – 2000 Gironia, Biferno Rosse. A sangiovese blend. (I’m not a wine snob but it was terrific, mild and went well with the meal’s meats).
- Breadsticks – On the table, totally useless.
- Appetizer – Affetati Misti – two types of salumi/ salami, proscuitto americano, and the piece de resistance, Lardo (The Italian equivalent of fatback. This unrendered form of lard is avaialable brine cured or seasoned with herbs and spices. Lardo is considered a delicacy in Tuscany and it used not only to flavor soups and stews but used to make a traditional crostini). Served sliced on bread, it was delicious. Stock lardo photo:
- Appetizer – Chicken Livers and Guanciale – enormous flavor, so rich, liver was not too intense, bacon balanced perfectly.
- Pizza – Squash Blossoms with Burrata – Crust is outstanding (3 day process means they don’t have to ship in water from New York to make it, as rumor often goes regarding good pizza in LA), squash blossoms were fresh, burrata was flavorful without being too pungent.
- Pizza – White Anchovies and red chiles (but really it was just part of sauce), good spice, sweetness to anchovies.
- Desserts – Butterscotch Budino with Rosemary-Pine Nut Biscotti AND Gianduia Terrine. Budino was excellent, terrine was missing the strong hazelnuttiness that traditional gianduia usually boasts. This is a fine example of SALT being the very IN thing for desserts these days. It was apparent in both the cookies and the caramel topping of the budino.
6. Overall a fun meal, outstanding food and service. Price was $110 w/ a $32 bottle of wine.
641 N. Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036