When Jordan Kahn's Red Medicine closed in late 2014, the culinary world waited with bated breath to see what the Alinea and French Laundry alum would do next. Two years later, Kahn has emerged on the scene again, with a new concept called Destroyer — named, says Kahn, after the meteor that hit earth, ending the Cretaceous Period.
It's safe to say that unless you worked in the neighborhood, you likely wouldn't happen upon Destroyer by chance. The artfully designed, minimalist space is tucked into a modern-looking building in the office end of Culver City's design district, Hayden Tract — an area largely made up of people who are there to work. The neighborhood's experimental design does, however, fit with Destroyer's aesthetic. A space that, upon first entering, gives the clear impression that whoever designed it did so with a painstaking attention to the details of a very particular look.
The modestly sized café is bright and full of light with a majority of its space dedicated to the large open kitchen. The cooks, clad in stylish uniforms echoing Scandinavian minimalism, quietly working away to the ambient soundtrack of Sigur Rós or Brian Eno or something of the like. The menu, which changes daily and consists of foraged and locally sourced ingredients, is projected on the far wall for you to take in before ordering at the counter and grabbing a seat at one of the handful of tables.
Unlike Red Medicine, Destroyer will only focus on breakfast and lunch, but in typical Kahn fashion, that mission is undertaken with a particular style and approach. Unlike almost any other exclusively breakfast and lunch spot in Los Angeles, Kahn's plates at Destroyer focus just as much on artful and highly stylized plating (with a purpose) as they do on ingredients. These are dishes that could arguably look (and taste) at home within a far more elevated restaurant experience than comes to mind when one thinks of a counter service, neighborhood café serving breakfast and lunch.
For breakfast, you might partake of a deceptively simple-looking bowl of raw granola with currants, an ultra fine grating of almond snow, and a frozen disk of Icelandic yogurt. The caramelized onion financiers, topped with creme fraiche and chives, are worth keeping on the menu. Their complex and understated richness not something you typically get in breakfast foods — a time of day that usually takes savory richness down a more gluttonous, fat-based road. The star breakfast dish, at least for now, is an organic hen egg found at the bottom of a deep circular cast iron bowl that's cooked in directly on the stove. The dish is completed with quinoa and potato chips for texture, bright pops of acidity from pickled Japanese mushrooms, and a mixture of different delicious greens lined around the top.
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Coffee is from Portland's Rosaline and San Francisco's Coffee Manufactory and served in a heavy, ceramic handleless mug wrapped in a knitted wool cozy.
And yet the cutlery is a plastic knife and fork wrapped in a paper napkin. Perhaps the hand-forged silverware made by the hermit in the Danish forest is simply taking a bit longer than expected to get to Kahn.
Lunch at Destroyer is made up of another small handful of offerings and can range from a bowl of beef tartare with smoked egg cream that's been constructed into a little dome and covered in thin slices of radish to a dish of roasted tomatoes, gooseberries, almond curds and verbena. Regardless of what's on the menu for the day, you can expect the offerings to be vegetable focused.
3578 Hayden Ave., Culver City; no phone, destroyer.la.