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Tasting Kitchen: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

Anne Fishbein

 Even after a couple of years, the Tasting Kitchen feels more like an art collective than it does a proper restaurant, a place where the odd discussions you have with your neighbors at the communal table seem as vital to the project as the fig bruschetta, and servers drift in and out like characters in a dream. As with a surrealist museum show or a performance of Garcia Lorca, you come to experience something unsettling. The dining room is a study in social interaction that just happens to involve food. Tasting Kitchen is a new-breed, Oregon-style restaurant transplanted to a beach town, with hundreds of candles and a loud soundtrack of post-rock and do-me R&B. The style of Casey Lane, who came here from Portland's clarklewis for what he imagined would be a short-lived pop-up, is simple, with an emphasis on toasted bread, strong cheese, braised meats, unaltered seasonal vegetables, grilled nuts and the distinct, bitter taste of char. The basic impression is of Italian cooking translated into an odd American dialect: Melted Fontina with bacon and trumpet mushrooms come on airy slabs of grilled bread rather than on thin slices of baguette, pastas are correct, and grilled anchovies are laid so beautifully on their plate that you rather suspect an art director. Unless you are an expert on obscure Italian wines, you will not be able to choose a wine without consulting your waiter, which may be the point. 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. (310) 392-6644, thetastingkitchen.com. Dinner nightly, 6-11 p.m.; brunch, Sat.-Sun., 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. All major CC. Italian.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

 

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The Tasting Kitchen

1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

310-392-6644

www.thetastingkitchen.com


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