Jonathan Gold Tackles Laurel Hardware

Soft shell crab and corn pudding at Laurel Hardware
Soft shell crab and corn pudding at Laurel Hardware Photo: Lesley Balla/Zagat

Jonathan Gold notes both the hits and misses to be had at Laurel Hardware. Sadly, we’ve mostly experienced the latter, but the critic endures the obscene crowds of trend-bots for the cooking of Chimu and Lazy Ox vet Mario Alberto, who is “fond of long-braised off-cuts and deep acidity… a complex palette of chiles, seasonal fruits and exotic herbs.” Unable to pin down any connection in the culturally capacious dishes other than the chef’s vast imagination, Gold says “Sometimes the intermarriage works” as in an “almost cinematic” scenario of fresh corn kernels sauteed in truffle butter with Parmesan and an Artic char on spatezle. Of course, “Sometimes it doesn’t,” he notes, citing an apple and arugula salad that tastes “more like dessert” and a Hanger steak “marinated into submission.” But Alberto’s lamb belly is back in business and Gold dubs the restaurant “a useful place” for the late-night crowd that brings a bit of the Sunset Strip onto Santa Monica Blvd. “If you stay up late and enjoy cocktails with dinner,” he urges, “it can be a good place to know.” [LAT]