Chef Gary Menes (Marché, Palate Food + Wine, Patina), who left Palihouse at the end of 2010 to open his own restaurant with business partner François Renaud (Cafe Stella, Palate), is still working on the details of the new restaurant. But in the meantime, Menes and Renaud have announced a pop-up project. Their temporary restaurant, called Quartier -- also most likely the name of the coming restaurant -- will be a four week gig starting May 7th, albeit weekends only, to be held at Olive & Thyme in Toluca Lake, which is currently closed anyway on the weekends. Olive & Thyme, given a first look this week by Jonathan Gold (he likes it, a lot) is owned by Melina and Christian Davies, who were regulars at Marché.
Menes says that the pop-up isn't really about making money but to keep the chef cooking and Renaud drinking, so to speak, and their regulars reminded of them while they're in their between-restaurant hiatus. "We just want to cover our expenses," said Menes by phone yesterday. "We just want to give a snapshot of what our restaurant will be like, see friends, stay in touch." Menes says that opening the new place has taken longer than anticipated, no surprise to anyone in this business ("the obvious reasons: the crazy economy; we've had to adjust our ambitions"), but that they're currently close to signing a lease downtown.
The pop-up will have a different menu each week, with the price adjusted according to the ingredients. The first menu is a 7-course dinner that (probably) includes: pressure roasted sweet baby beets, lime, honey, smoked sea salt; sweet potato velouté, endive, yogurt, apple mostarda; asparagus, reggiano, 60º egg, brown butter, lemon, parsley; halibut, green garlic purée, potato and romaine; pork belly, petits pois à la Française and stone ground grits; strawberries, balsamic, crème fraîche and pistachios, and will run you $52 without wine.
"I want it to be affordable," says Menes. "I want my brother to be able to come." As for why Quartier, which is French for quarter or neighborhood, Menes says that he and Renaud liked it because "most great restaurants are neighborhood restaurants." And hey, if your partner is French, why not.
Menes and Reynaud's pop-up Quartier will be at Olive & Thyme the weekends of May 7-8, May 14-15, May 21-22 and May 28-29; each night will have 2 seatings, at 6:30 p.m. and at 8:30 p.m. Dinner will be a prix-fixe menu with specific wines to match. For reservations email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323-400-5258.