The Other Critics

Rodell In Awe At Allumette; J. Gold Chipper at Chi Spacca

Grilled octopus at Allumette
Grilled octopus at Allumette Photo: KevinEats

Besha Rodell sits in stunned silence, pondering a dish of turnips and brown rice at Allumette, “Miles Thompson’s musing on the end of winter and the coming warmth,” what she calls, “an outrageous plate of food” for something that could have been “something you’d get for lunch at a very austere, vegan yoga retreat.” So it goes at the new Echo Park restaurant, where the 25-year-old chef’s cooking is called “cerebral, exacting, exciting, avant-garde.” “Much of his food astonishes,” Rodell writes, pointing to several dishes that “throw you off guard in the best possible way,” like a sturgeon surrounded by pickled and sweet huckleberries and Szechuan pork dumplings topped with “fat salmon roe.” And even though she often wants to edit the chef’s creativity, no less when “all this inventiveness goes overboard and the results are just straight-up bizarre” (like in a mousseline-bleeding ravioli), you can still feel the critic’s excitement over the chef, who is “making food that’s slightly staggering in its inventiveness and quality” and who “miraculously manages to pull it all together.” Three stars! [LAW]

Jonathan Gold makes his inevitable trip to Chi Spacca, the new butcher-centric arm of Mozza. He openly warns from the get-go: [Nancy] Silverton is a close family friend of long standing…So feel free to discount anything I have to say about the place,” even though most of us already know the place has to be pretty great. Moving forward, he cites Chad Colby as “a scholar of meat,” with Gold getting a kitchen tour in which he spies “the binder in which he has recorded the provenance of every pig, the pH of every prosciutto and salami that has traveled through his meat room over the last couple of years” at “what is by far the most ambitious salumi program in Los Angeles.” You won’t find pastas or dedicated vegetable plates here, though “Chi Spacca isn’t quite what you think it might be in all respects, and it is sometimes the quirks, not classically Italian, that make the restaurant lovable.” Awww….[LAT]

Brad A. Johnson heads to The Ramos House Cafe in San Juan Capistrano this week, “a wooden, prairie-style cabin that dates to 1881…where the chef/owner lives” and “it’s always brunchtime.” He’s not exactly ecstatic when the table gets a bacon-loaded scramble instead of the chicken they’d ordered, especially with a religious diner shunning pork at his side, but despite some missteps, generally enjoys the generous portions, including caramel apple beignets, French toast, fava bean spread with black truffles, a mac and cheese with mushrooms. Two and a half stars! [Ugh, O.C. Register Now Has a Paywall!]

Rodell In Awe At Allumette; J. Gold Chipper at Chi Spacca