Joseph Centeno’s bäco, set to rule Downtown in October
The summer was no slacker when it came to big openings and spectacular food events. But starting this week, the action shifts into high gear with the first heavily anticipated openings that will lead us through a major fall season. With new projects coming from Michael Voltaggio, Wolfgang Puck, Alain Giraud, Nancy Silverton, Josef Centeno, Josie Le Balch, along with two brand new food festivals and an ambitious brewery from Tony Yanow, we have plenty to look forward to this season. We also checked in with a few of L.A.’s chefs to see what has them chomping at the bit for autumn to arrive. Come take a look at the openings, events, and ingredients that we can hardly wait for as fall approaches. And make sure you check out Grub Street’s fall preview coverage in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Boston, too!
8104 West 3rd St. West Hollywood. 323-592-3075.
Partners Nancy Truman and Waylynn Lucas, the former pastry whiz from Patina and The Bazaar, promise to revolutionize our sweetest fried breakfast staple with a donut variation that’s not only delicious, but also (gasp!) good for us, as these “fonuts” come baked and steamed at high temperatures, ensuring they’re low-fat while maintaining ethereal textures. Lucas tells us to look out for tastes both conventional and avant garde, sweet and savory, with flavors including strawberry buttermilk, chorizo and cheddar, maple bacon, banana chocolate, lemon, and chocolate hazelnut. “We’re most excited to pair high quality pastry with high quality coffee in a fun modern new way,” Lucas says. If you’re not already in for a baker’s dozen, the caffeine fix at this post-mod coffee shop are provided by LA Mill.
A new season naturally means a new selection of fresh produce and M.B. Post chef David LeFevre tells us what he can’t wait to see when autumn arrives. “We are getting pumped about all of the fall vegetables that are abundant in the cooler months,” LeFevre says. “Different root vegetables like salsify, parsnip, rutabaga, turnips, as well as chestnuts, shelling beans, and grains like farro and wild rice. All these items tend to lend well to heavier cooking techniques and using brown butter, sage, and thyme with them. One meat item we are looking forward to cooking is duck breast – nice and crisp on the outside and ruby medium rare.”
Photo: Sharon Molerus
2420 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica. 310-581-9888.
Dinners at Josie, the nine-year-old showcase for decorated chef Josie Le Balch’s sublime market-forward New American cuisine, are often reserved for the most special occasions. With Josie Next Door, slated to open literally next door, possibly as soon as the end of this week, Le Balch is turning the special occasion into an everyday opportunity, with a casual 50-seat restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. We’re looking forward to comfort eats a la Le Balch who so far offers teases of fried chicken, pastas made in-house, charcuterie, ribs, and wine-on-tap.
623-25 Lincoln Blvd. Venice.
Tyler Wilson and Joseph Pitruzzelli, the duo that kicked off L.A.’s spreading fever for exotic meat sausages paired with stellar beer, take their Oompah-act across town to the former Air Conditioned space in Venice, though plans to have DJs for the place are promised. With Wurstkuche juggling a Westside empire, still-skanky Lincoln may have the most to gain, even if this is a sure stress-test for Venice’s shifting demographic sands. This second ‘Kuche will carry gator sausage, bockwurst, and communal tables when it takes off at the start of September, but it still won’t have turtle racing! Here’s an early look at the bar to keep you sated.
8588 Washington Blvd. Culver City. 310-424-5559.
Many from the top breed of L.A.’s food trucks are going brick and mortar, a bonus for fans who no longer have to stay tuned to Twitter to track them down. Everyone’s favorite architecture-obsessed ice cream sandwich truck is putting roots down in Culver City, adding Blue Bottle coffee, seasonal flavors, floats, and ice cream cakes to their repertoire in the process. Almost as cool as the signature desserts here will be the space, as founders Natasha Case and Freya Estreller tell us they’re literally bringing the truck inside, with auto parts integrated into the store and a wall for making magnet art. Coolhaus debuts Labor Day weekend.
Photo: Photograph: Jolie Ruben/Time Out
Various locations from September 2-5.
Knowing he’s a chef who sticks to the seasons, we asked Osteria La Buca’s Jason Neroni what he’s most looking forward to this fall. The chef cited autumn’s first major food festival, the debut of The Taste from Food & Wine and The Los Angeles Times, telling us, “I’m definitely looking forward to an opportunity to meet L.A.’s great chefs & shake hands with customers that I usually don’t have the chance to meet. Plus all the great food & drink that will be there will be hard to beat.”
8360 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood. 323-651-5866.
It’s not just diners and Top Chef fanatics who are ravenous for the debut of ink., the dream project of Michael Voltaggio, opening chef de cuisine at The Bazaar and the man who made The Dining Room at The Langham relevant to a planet beyond Pasadena’s upper crust. Mar’sel at Terranea Resort chef Michael Fiorelli tells us he’s also looking forward to the Melrose restaurant, which will find Voltaggio springing new surprises from an omakase bar. “I’m excited to see my good friend Michael Voltaggio’s new restaurant ink open this September,” Fiorelli says, “Not only is Michael one of the best cooks I know, but it’s great to see someone you came up through the ranks with achieving so much well deserved success. We’ve been friends since we worked together at the Greenbrier Resort over 12 years ago.”
6333 W 3rd St.; on Fairfax. 323-933-9211.
It’s been two years since the rumors swirled and a year in the making. After Nancy Silverton perfected L.A.’s pizza and provided our daily bread, she’s turning her attention to burgers with partner Amy Pressman, making mouths water citywide at thought of their artisanal approach applied to this two-story house of burgers (designed on the outside by Osvaldo Maiozzi, inside by Deborah Gregory) and growing in a classically precise location at the Fairfax Farmer’s Market. Expect Sonoma grass-fed beef patties, pork, lamb, tofu, and fish used in the “reinvention” of the burger as we know it, all with homemade aiolis, pickles, and ketchup, custard-based milkshakes, and craft beer, when Short Order opens its doors in mid to late-September.
3650 West Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Baldwin Hills.
With Post & Beam, Govind Armstrong is dedicating himself to his hometown of L.A. again, turning Brad Johnson’s forthcoming Baldwin Hills restaurant in a corner nook of Crenshaw Plaza into a locavore passion project expected in late-September. In this 2,500 square-foot space inspired by the neighborhood’s California Modern aesthetic, complete with an al fresco patio, Armstrong plans a locally-sourced approach in his open kitchen, with help from his own herb and veggie garden on-site, a wood-burning oven for market-fresh pizzas, plus draft beer, and a food bar for seasonal specials and dishes using local artisanal products. “I haven’t been this excited about a project in a long time,” the chef says. “It’s brilliant to be a part of such refreshing developments – bridging the lines of L.A.’s vast landscape – dining and otherwise.”
1416 Fourth St. Santa Monica. 310-526-7121.
Well before the shutter of Santa Monica’s Serenata de Garibaldi location, this city had plenty of room for a better upscale Mexican dining destination. Hopes are high that Mercado, Yxta Cocina Mexicana owner Jesse Gomez’s restaurant taking over the space, could lift the hopes we had dashed at La Sandia. Here chef Jose Acevedo, formerly of Irvine’s Taleo Grill, will work with regional recipes both familiar and original, in creations like his cemita burger, a preparation using verdolagas in guajillo, “gringas al pastor” using flour tortillas, and prickly pear salad. While chef Acevedo is excited to incorporate fresh vegetables that normally don’t make their way into our Mexican restaurants, he tells us he’s most looking forward to people trying his slow-cooked pork carnitas, served with smashed pintos and Mexican rice.
5410 N. San Fernando Rd West. Atwater Village. 213-537-4655.
Every time Tony Yanow opens a Cali-centric beer bar like his Tony’s Darts Away or Mohawk Bend, he impacts an entire neighborhood. Now he’s teamed up with Dogfish Head’s Jon Carpenter and former Oskar’s Blues brewer Meg Gill to turn the whole city on its head with a brand-new brewery on a 41,000 square-foot plot off of San Fernando Road that will release two new canned beers in the second week of October when the brewery officially opens, starting with their laboriously crafted Point the Way IPA. It won’t be too long before you see the brews in bars, and someday soon you may even be able to eat right at the source, as Yanow plans to bring a restaurant concept here in the future.
400 S. Main St. Downtown.
If you’ve had trouble tracking down Josef Centeno’s proprietary taco/gyro/pizza mutation in the past, most recently at Lazy Ox Canteen, get ready for a rotating menu of bäco at Bäco Mercat, which the chef is hoping to open in mid-October in the San Fernando Building in Downtown, where he says, “I love the bones of the place” while working on a steel bar amid 1,700 square-feet of marble and brass details under high ceilings and a sky light. Centeno readies us for a changing selection of bäco flat-bread sandwiches, including the original beef and pork carnitas varieties, along with plans for shrimp with chive dressing, pork belly, chicken with zhoug, and even a vegetarian bäco. He’s especially excited to show people his “bäzole,” the chef’s adaptation of pozole with house-made egg noodles, pork-chile broth and a fried egg.
602 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica.
After wowing diners for years at Wilshire, Andrew Kirschner gets the prime location he deserves to showcase his creativity and devotion to Santa Monica and its famous Farmers Market. Tar & Roses, a seasonal restaurant that pushes Cali cuisine, will come armed with a wood-burning oven and inspirations from Spain and Italy, as well as a spacious back patio that will help the late-night crowd ease into the transition from Wilshire. Naturally, there will be wine too when the restaurant opens in October.
1032 Swarthmore Ave. Pacific Palisades. 310-459-7561.
After shuttering Anisette, Alain Giraud went right back to the drawing board to debut plans for Maison Giraud, his own petite neighborhood restaurant and bakery in Pacific Palisades. Here Giraud plans a seasonal approach to lunch and dinner menus, while stocking a steady supply of French baked breakfast goods like filled crossaints and rustic breads, with strong espresso to go with them. We’re hoping to see Giraud’s new restaurant by October 1st.
701 Stone Canyon Rd. Bel Air. 310-472-1211.
There will be no way to ignore the reopening of the grand dame property, especially seeing as L.A.’s number one chef is taking over the restaurant and all dining operations here. Puck consulted on the hotel’s famous tortilla soup recipe in the eighties, but his latest L.A. project will be under the watch of chef Sonny Sweetman, who plans a market sourced ode to California and the Mediterranean in a room of retractable glass that surrounds diners with the property’s enchanting gardens. Expect the opening on October 14th.
To be held October 13th to 16th in various locations citywide.As the executive chef at Fairfax’s new game-filled restaurant Vodvil, Jamie Lauren is a chef who knows how to have a good time. We asked the chef what she’s looking forward to this fall and Lauren replied, “I’m looking forward to the L.A. Food and Wine Festival in early October. It’s put on by Coastal Luxury Management - the guys who put together the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival which was always a great time. I’m hoping they can come down and rock it out in LA.”