The Other Critics

Jonathan Gold Applauds New Chef at Lazy Ox; Patrick Kuh Catches Up With Water Grill

Perfecto's paella
Perfecto’s paella Photo: Lazy Ox

Jonathan Gold takes his zillionth trip to Downtown’s Lazy Ox Canteen, this time to soak up the cooking of new chef Perfecto Rocher, who is, “as every Lazy Ox server will tell you, a third-generation paella chef from…outside Valencia, the cradle of paella.” After a history report on the slow-poached egg of Mugaritz leyenda Andoni Luis Aduriz, Gold announces that Rocher’s $31 version could “haunt your dreams,” while his declaration that “the woodsy funk of the truffles is pure sex” will most likely haunt our’s. While Rocher’s cooking “will not strike you as much of a departure” if you’re a Josef Centeno follower, he is enlivening the place with his salpicon, boca bits, octopus tentacles, and “grilled squid, set upright like a line of chessmen on vividly green vegetable purée.” And of course, he’s gearing up for his own paella place in Santa Monica and giving sneak peaks every Monday with a preparation that makes it “impossible to think of it being richer, the flavor more concentrated, the individual grains chewier or more distinct.” [LAT]

S. Irene Virbila points readers to her three favorite restaurants for smoked salmon dishes, encouraging everyone to get their hands on Petrossian’s smoked salmon eggs benedict (with caviar for extra indulgence) and Huckleberry’s smoked salmon platter. She also warns that the days of Spago’s smoked salmon pizza possibly are numbered, while we learned that some exceptions might be made for the well-prepared. [LAT]

Patrick Kuh takes us through the history and $1.5 million upgrade of Water Grill, a balancing act of pubby “pitchers of beer” and “subway tiles” with “well-stuffed leather seating” and a dark fishing pole-topped mural that “looks more art installation than maritime kitsch.” Of the “quiet authority” of chef Damon Gordon, Kuh writes that he’s “got classical chops but a contemporary outlook,” resulting in a “dichotomy” that finds excellent renditions of both Dover sole and Virginia black bass in a formula that “works.” Everything from the fish tacos to the oysters (“still the best in the city”) have the reboot looking fresh, though a few dishes, like the shrimp Louie at $28 “don’t live up to the cost.” [Los Angeles Magazine]

Jonathan Gold Applauds New Chef at Lazy Ox; Patrick Kuh Catches Up With Water