Patio season is upon us, and one of L.A.'s most beloved and loveliest patios is the one belonging to Cliff's Edge, a space that's more like a magical tree house hideaway than a traditional restaurant patio. A lot has been going on at Cliff's Edge in the last six months or so, so I decided to swing by to check in on Dana Hollister's Silver Lake restaurant.
Late last September, chef Benjamin Bailly left the restaurant, after a little under a year as chef. Bailly has a significant pedigree — time as chef de partie at Joël Robuchon in Paris and stints as executive chef at Fraiche in Culver City and Petrossian in West Hollywood. He made it onto the long list two years running for James Beard's Rising Star Chef award. After Bailly left, Hollister brought on Vartan Abgaryan, who had formerly worked at Public Kitchen and Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel.
While at the Roosevelt, Abgaryan befriended Matthew Biancaniello, the bartender at the Roosevelt's Library Bar, who gained huge loyalty from drinkers with his outrageously creative cocktails. Biancaniello has since left the Roosevelt as well, and is now bartending one night a week at Cliff's Edge. On Wednesday nights Biancaniello makes drinks with ingredients from farmers markets and also things he's foraged from the Angeles National Forest. Think candy cap mushroom-infused bourbon and stinging nettle-infused gin.
The dinner menu at Cliff's Edge is ambitious and mostly successful. We had a classic, creamy, almost perfect chicken liver terrine with candied kumquat; a smoked sweetbreads dish with snap peas and a poached egg; and a lovely halibut that screamed of spring, with sweet peas, ramps and artichokes.
There was also an octopus dish, with fennel, smoked paprika and grapefruit, that was tender and visually stunning, although the crust was way too salty. And while even the non-Biancaniello cocktails at Cliff's Edge are pretty great, the wine list could use some freshening, especially the whites. After all, a patio this glorious deserves some great spring wines.
All in all, Abgaryan's cooking is well worth checking out. It's a little pricey to be considered a neighborhood joint, but this food is, at its best, destination-worthy. As is the patio.
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