After a year-long hiatus, Bastide restaurant will reopen tomorrow. Joe Pytka's Melrose Place restaurant will be serving breakfast and lunch under new chef Joseph Mahon, and will open for dinner sometime in January. If you need some reading material before your lunch, the Assouline Boutique bookstore located inside the restaurant opens today. The interior has been given a redesign, with some walls painted in jungle scenes to go with the tomato soup cans hanging from the ceiling and the chandelier of God-I-wish-I-drank-that wine labels, and a long wooden table in in the main room, which now showcases Assouline's beautiful culture-oriented titles but which will be converted to a dining table in the future.
The latest incarnation of Bastide will be more informal than the previous, a kind of “cafe-restaurant” with seasonal dishes like braised lamb shanks with northern white bean stew and arugula sauce; and risotto with wild mushrooms, croutons and red wine. “We just want to be accessible,” said Mahon this morning. “It's less manipulated food. Food goes through a cycle; it's all coming back to grassroots.” Mahon says that there will be tasting menus, as there have historically been at Bastide. When asked what it's going to be like to serve food in a bookstore, Mahon just smiled. “His [Pytka's] interpretation of a bookstore is different than other people's interpretation of a bookstore.”
As for Joe Pytka's legendary wine cellar, wine director Dario Dell 'Anno says it's all there. Bastide will have a “world wine list,” with wines chosen from Pytka's cellar plus new wines that Dell 'Anno selects. To help with that, each server will be a certified sommelier. There will be a no corkage policy, but the wines will have very little mark-up. It seems that everyone's trying to be accessible.
The boutique is the third of its kind from Assouline Publishing, a French publishing house which is now based in New York City. A fourth boutique opens on Wednesday in Las Vegas. Assouline offers titles on fashion and culture, and also publishes food and wine books, including American Fashion Cookbook, with recipes from fashion designers (Diane Von Furstenberg's Saturday Night Chicken); Chef Daniel Boulud: Cooking in New York City, by Daniel Boulud and Peter Kaminsky; and Vintage Cocktails, by Brian van Flandern. “It's all about taste,” said Prosper Assouline this morning. Yes, it is.
Bastide: 8475 Melrose Place, Los Angeles; (323) 651-5950.