When it opened in the 1980s, City Restaurant felt a lot like the future of Los Angeles cuisine: a restaurant that absorbed the influences of both the local Asian communities and the exotic places to which a reasonably hip Angeleno might be expected to travel, and re-envisioned the flavors through the prism of Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken’s hard-won French technique. In her new Street, a hypercool restaurant in the space that once housed the coffeehouse Highland Grounds, Feniger, in her solo debut, revisits some of those transglobal ideas but with a direct, accessible twist. Cumin-scented millet puffs are brought to the table instead of bread and butter, and if that sounds like a good idea to you, Street — especially the comfortable patio abutting the fire pit — may become your new favorite restaurant.
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Street is a virtual museum of world street food, snacks and savories from every part of Asia — Korean-style mung bean pancakes studded with bits of anise-braised pork belly; hollow, potato-stuffed Indian ping-pong balls called paani puri, moistened with a bit of spicy broth; a juniper-laced salad of roasted beets and crumbled walnuts; even a take on the classic Singaporean breakfast dish of toast with coconut-jam kaya and a runny egg. There are dense dal fritters, a delicious version of the do-it-yourself Thai bundles of roasted coconut, bird chiles, peanuts, tamarind jam and minced lime, among other things, sensibly wrapped in bits of collard instead of the traditional betel leaf. A “new Jerusalem bread salad” is a clever take on the Middle Eastern bread salad fattoush, spiked with feta and bits of Jerusalem artichoke (which of course has nothing to do with the region).
Half the menu is vegan-friendly, although you probably wouldn’t notice that fact unless it was important to you, and at least as much attention seems to have been paid to the roster of rare beers, and to the spiced lassis and various chilled coolers as to the short but appropriate wine list. This is a restaurant that understands Hollywood.
Don’t miss Feniger’s parfait, a layered concoction of espresso gelatin, chocolate mousse and cream sweetened with special halvah imported all the way from Canter’s Delicatessen.
Susan Feniger’s Street: 742 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; (323) 203-0500 or www.eatatstreet.com.