When we last left Plan Check in mid-June, the popular Sawtelle home of chef Ernesto Uchimura was busy building out their next iteration on Fairfax. Well, after the tenderest two-day soft open (République, by contrast, was soft open for somewhere between two weeks and a decade), Plan Check Fairfax is finally here.
The newest location, slammed inside the short-lived former Vodvil board-game-as-night-club space, begins serving tomorrow night, Friday, Dec. 13. The dimmish lighting, reclaimed wood and chalkboard menu signs are all in place, and the building itself is almost twice as large as the original location on the Westside. That's good news for centrally-located eaters who couldn't stomach the thought of crossing under the 405 curtain for a fried chicken sandwich, even if it's been smoked, buttermilked and perfectly fried, as Plan Check's certainly are. See? Hold out long enough and all the fun stuff comes to you.
Cavatina, opening in early January inside the Sunset Marquis hotel, is Mediterranean with a twist. James Beard Award winner Michael Schlow's first West Coast venture is a tad nostalgic. Snacks include homemade potato chips with chile-green onion dip and jalapeno tater tots.
Best known for his five restaurants in Boston, Schlow is not big on sauce. "If you don't use the ingredients Mother Nature gives you, you should have your white jacket taken away," he says. The idea is simple: salt, pepper, heat and fresh herbs. And no signs of molecular gastronomy.
Your New Year's resolutions are about a month away, so you might as well live it up, right? To help you with that is Bo Nuage, a pastry shop on Melrose specializing in French nuage (cloud) cakes, opening in mid-December. Pascal and Audrey Achcar whip up desserts that hold their own against the cronut and cupcake: Their Parisian mini-cakes are filled with whipped cream, housed between layers of meringue, then are covered in more whipped cream and topped with shaved chocolate. There are 15 flavors at $6 each. And, of course, gluten-free and non-dairy options.
Coming soon, organic vegan Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre will settle into West Hollywood in January. With an outpost already in San Francisco, the menu will be very similar to its sister location. You can expect empanadas and ensaladas, tamales, posole and tacos with handmade corn tortillas. What might be different here is an ambitious beverage program, lead by Jason Eisner, who joins Gracias Madre from the bar at Drago Centro.
Husband-and-wife team Michael and Carol Teich hunt for seasonal ingredients at local farms for their new Culver City restaurant, the Wallace. The cocktail list is well curated by Carol and some stand-out items on the menu include roasted diver scallops with butternut squash puree and duck confit in hoisin barbecue sauce. In the past, Teich worked at SBE and oversaw the kitchen at Axe in Venice. The former professional baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates now hits home runs with roasted bone marrow with parsley, radish and tarragon pickled shallots, and shrimp and chickpea pancakes.
In closing news, it's an all-too-familiar story: Brentwood's romantic Italian restaurant Osteria Latini shut down because of a major increase in rent. Read on for a full list of openings and closings.
You may have heard that the folks behind Cafe Gratitude will be opening a new organic vegan Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood. Gracias Madre already has an outpost in San Francisco. Today we got some new details about what we can expect from the Melrose Ave. location.
It looks as though the menu will be very similar to the San Francisco location (which you can see here). Reps for the L.A. restaurant cite dishes such as empanadas and ensaladas, and larger entrees including tamales, pozole and tacos made with handmade corn tortillas.
République, the much-anticipated restaurant from Walter and Margarita Manzke, will officially open to the public on Monday, Nov. 25. This is after a glitch with Open Table that allowed diners to make reservations beginning Nov. 15. République will be honoring those reservations with a shortened menu for the 10 days leading up to the official opening, but will be serving only 50 diners a night and will not accept walk-ins or further reservations until Nov. 25.
The eventual over-caffeination of our fair city continues unabated today, as we peek in on Andante Coffee Roasters, a new pour over coffee spot just north of The Grove on Beverly Boulevard. Open since the first week of September and located in the former Buzz Coffee space, Andante is looking to capture a few different worlds: coffee snobs who require a decent pour over, workaday locals who need a quiet-ish place to plug in and type away on their keyboards, and tourists venturing out of The Grove in search of a decent cup of joe.
Someone really needs to start looking into this "walk-up window only" food phenomenon that's seemingly sweeping Los Angeles. Is it all the work of the the shadowy Big Window lobby? We may never know. One thing is for certain: Some of the city's tastiest new meals are being handed off on trays and in boxes. Plates need no longer apply.
If you're into the walk-up window lifestyle, you'll probably have a nice, meaty time at Twins Sliders on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. The new mini burger and fried chicken sandwich concept from George Abou-Daoud, the man who owns every restaurant on that block and a few other great ones down the street too, opened late last month in the wall space between Mission Cantina and Delancey Pizzeria. The orange and pale blue facade, coupled with old-timey signage reminiscent of the sock hop days, is eerily similar to another walk-up window meat-and-bread place across town. And they both have milkshakes on the menu.
We've cooed over cronuts, farm-to-table fare and inventive cocktails. Now we're back to L.A.'s most iconic food: tacos, fancy and otherwise. Chef Ricardo Diaz recently opened Colonia Taco Lounge in La Puente. Crunch into guisados-style tacos, sip craft beer and enjoy free parking. There are about a dozen taco mainstays to choose from: a delicately braised lamb barbacoa, a crisply fried cauliflower, and the doraditos (fried potato tacos filled with cheese and crema). Diaz is also planning to open a fried taco joint in Silver Lake, aptly called Duro (that's "hard" in Spanish).
Adding some mystery to our over-exposed lives (Twitheads, you know who you are), chef Josef Centeno (Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá) is opening Orsa & Winston in downtown L.A., in the Old Bank District. He offers Japanese-Italian tasting menus (five-course tasting menu, nine-course omakase or a family-style prix-fixe), which rotate regularly. At the four-seat chef's counter, a "super omakase" menu is available with advance reservations. You never know what you're going to get: "Rice," the name of one tasting menu might feature uni and razor clam risotto with Koshihikari sushi rice, according to Urban Daddy. For "Dessert"? Your guess is as good as ours. The official open date is Oct. 2. You can make reservations by calling (213) 687-7000 or through email@example.com.
Word around the taco cooler is that chef Ricardo Diaz -- he of Guisados, Cook's Tortas and Bizarra Capital -- is planning to open a fried taco concept in Silver Lake in the coming months, aptly called Duro (that's "hard" in Spanish). Diaz belongs to the clan behind mini Mexican seafood chain El Siete Mares, so it's no surprise that the longtime Eastsider is taking over the Sunset Boulevard sit-down version of his family's restaurant to open something more fun and vibrant on his own.
Of course, all this taco chatter got us hungry, and before we knew it we were in La Puente, home to Diaz's other recent venture: Colonia Taco Lounge. Open since August, the restaurant features a slew of guisados-style tacos, plus craft beers, a small stage, and lots of free parking. Sounds like a winner already.