The first thing anybody's going to tell you about District is to order the duck-fat Yorkshire pudding, a half-dozen airy popovers, about the size of ping-pong balls, snatched sizzling from the oven and served in a napkin-covered basket. Popovers turn out to be perfect vehicles for the gamy, rich, slightly metallic scent of hot duck fat, which is something you've probably never smelled this intensely unless you make your own confit. If you listen closely, the popovers are telling you to drink red wine.

District is the latest bar-centered restaurant from George Abou-Daoud, the mogul whose lounges are docked along Sunset Boulevard like ocean liners, and it is probably the first of his restaurants in which the food is at least as important as the cocktails: smoked-beef deckle, which is to say a variant on pastrami, with cucumber salad; shrimp 'n' grits given a vaguely Middle Eastern spin with a dusting of musty Aleppo pepper; rare arctic char crusted with a spiced bread-crumb crust held together with bone marrow; and a creamy sea-urchin gratin with bay scallops and sunchokes. In a part of town where pork-belly preparations outnumber city parks, the version at District — braised, fried crisp and served with stewed dried artichokes and green garlic — stands alone. District is probably the 403rd restaurant chef Kris Morningstar has been involved in over the last few years, but his cooking seems settled in a way it hasn't since his earliest days at Blue Velvet. Is District animal-style? Almost certainly. But there are worse things to eat than duck-fat Yorkshire pudding on a chilly spring night.

DISTRICT: 6600 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 962-8200.

LA Weekly