Looks: We don't usually tout looks as the most important aspect of a restaurant, but at Acabar it's all about the ambiance. The place is stunning, having retained much of Dar Maghreb's over-the-top "Moroccan palace" design, but also making it sleeker and sexier. The walls are covered in mosaic tile, the ceiling in painted designs; the wood and plasterwork is intricate, florid, and kind of breathtaking. Of course, it's all a little silly, but it's a very fun kind of silly.
The subject of this week's restaurant review is n/naka, the Palms restaurant dedicated to kaiseki, the formal Japanese multi-course meal. You can read the full review over in the main food section, or see a condensed version (with a couple of extra tidbits), below.
Chef: Chef and owner Niki Nakayama began her cooking career at Takao in Brentwood. Seeking to further her understanding of Japanese cooking and technique, she then spent three years traveling around Japan working in different kitchens, including a Japanese country inn, or ryokan, owned by some relatives. There, she trained specifically in kaiseki. Upon her return to L.A., Nakayama first opened a sushi restaurant in West Hollywood, Azami Sushi Cafe, which was known for its all-female staff. But later at n/naka, which opened on an unremarkable stretch of Overland Avenue in the spring of 2011, she committed herself to delivering the full kaiseki experience.
Backstory: Petty Cash is in the space formerly occupied by Playa, John Sedlar's Latin restaurant which closed in March. Restaurateur Bill Chait brought in chef Walter Manzke (with whom Chait was already working on the forthcoming Republique in the old Campanile location), and the two of them transformed the spot into a taqueria. Tijuana chef Guillermo Oso Campos was brought in to consult on the menu, and food writer Bill Esparza curated the restaurant's mezcal program and lent advice and expertise in other areas as well.
Bucato, Evan Funke's new Culver City Italian restaurant, is the subject of this week's restaurant review. The full review is over in the food department -- we hope you'll consider reading the whole thing. Or you can peruse the condensed version, below.
Chef(s): Funke is best known for his work at Rustic Canyon, where he served as chef for four years between 2008 and 2012. His love of pasta and Italian food was cemented in 2007 when he spent three months in Bologna learning under master pasta-maker Alessandra Spisni. For Bucato, he's enlisted the help of Kosaku Kawamura, a Japanese chef he met in Italy, who serves as Bucato's chief pasta-maker. Bread and desserts are by Zairah Molina, who previously worked under Sherry Yard at Spago.
History: The Water Grill downtown has been in operation since 1989, and last year underwent a facelift to make it more appealing to younger diners. Ocean Avenue Seafood on Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica was owned by the same folks, and had been around even longer -- 27 years. But in recent years it had seemed out of date, and business wasn't great. So owner Sam King decided to bring his more successful business to the water, and replace Ocean Avenue Seafood with a second location of Water Grill.
Chef: CJ Jacobson is best known as a Top Chef contestant, having appeared in both seasons three and ten. In between, he was chef at the (now closed) Santa Monica gastropub The Yard. He also landed a coveted internship at Noma, René Redzepi's modernist Nordic restaurant in Copenhagen, often cited as the best restaurant in the world.
This week we turn our reviewing eye to Flores, the New American restaurant that opened on Sawtelle in Little Osaka recently. You can hop on over to the food section and read the full review, or get a summary version below.
Chefs: The husband and wife team, Angela Hernandez and Rob Lawson, each have very strong resumes: both worked at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York before moving to L.A., after which she cooked at Bazaar and he at the Hotel Bel-Air.
For this week's restaurant review, we take a look at Connie and Ted's, one of quite a few New England-style seafood joints to open recently in L.A. If you have some time and attention to spare, we urge you to read the full review. For those lacking in time and attention, you can see the vital stats below:
After a few weeks without a review (Dessert Issue! Mezcal!), this week we return with a look at Little Beast in Eagle Rock. We urge you to hop on over the the food section and read the full review, but for those of you with less time and attention to spare, here's the condensed version:
The 'hood: Little Beast is interesting not so much because of what it is (that is, another market-driven restaurant serving simple New American food) but where it is. You'd think Eagle Rock would already have a few spots along these lines, but really, until now, it hasn't. And seeing as the neighborhood is home to lots of young families and older artist types, Little Beast is somewhat of a godsend.
This week, we turn our reviewing efforts towards Goldie's, the new Mid-City restaurant from the same folks who own the Eveliegh. Head over to the food section to read the full review, or take a peek below for the condensed version.