Because of the construction on National Blvd. in Culver City, you might not have noticed that The Point, the casual restaurant in the Hayden Tract that Beacon's Kazuto Matsusaka and Vicki Fan opened only two years ago next month, closed a few weeks ago. Because of the Light Rail transit project, it's been difficult to negotiate that part of National for awhile. Matsusaka and Fan have sold the restaurant to Mark Peel, chef-owner of Campanile, who will reopen it in a few weeks under the same name. Target date is October 1st.
The quick turnover of the property and the retention of the name are for good reason: Peel and Matsusaka have known each other for decades. "We go back to Ma Maison," said Peel last week, stepping over the sawdust and electrical cords at his new restaurant. "He was the one who taught me how to fillet a fish." Peel and Matsusaka cooked together at Wolfgang Puck's Ma Maison in the 1970's, then at Michael's in Santa Monica, and at Spago. Together, their resumes read like the culinary history of Los Angeles.
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Campanile sous chef Armando Castilla is moving over to The Point this week to oversee the farmers market-oriented menu: salads by the pound, soups, sandwiches (yes, grilled cheese) and desserts and pastries that will be made at Campanile's large dessert kitchen by pastry chef Meadow Ramsay and brought over. The restaurant also serves wine and beer.
Peel says that the trick was to figure out what to do with the charming café considering the problematic parking and access for the year or two it will take until the rail project is finished. The Point will cater mostly to the large Conjunctive Points community who can walk to the restaurant, and then focus on take-out and delivery. When the rail project is finished, Peel says he'll reassess. Public transportation and grilled cheese sandwiches? We'll all reassess.
The Point: 8522 National Blvd; (310) 836-8400.