The shadow of the towering Elysian, a former Metropolitan Water District building flipped into luxury lofts two years ago, looms large near the intersection of Sunset and Figueroa in eastern Echo Park. Built in 1963 by futurist architect William Pereira, the ivory high-rise has always been a jarring sight among the Spanish duplexes that dot the hills around Dodger Stadium.
Winsome, a new restaurant from the management duo behind Hollywood cocktail den the Spare Room, is set to open on the building’s ground floor in January. A recent visit to the site showed construction was still very much under way, but the beginnings of the open kitchen and seating area had begun to take shape.
The restaurant aims to be an ambitious standout in a burgeoning Echo Park dining scene that has grown in fits and starts over the past few years. The 75-seat, all-day restaurant will offer coffee service from a small walk-up window, serve breakfast and lunch, and expand to dinner service a few weeks after it opens. The kitchen will be helmed by chef Jeremy Strubel, a Los Angeles native who previously led the kitchens at Rustic Canyon and Momed, and pastry chef Leslie Mialma, formerly of République.
Strubel’s menu draws heavily from the New California playbook: roasted root vegetables with al pastor spice and cilantro yogurt, charred escarole soup with pine nuts and black garlic, and braised beef cheeks with carrot pasta and watercress. For breakfast there will be fried egg sandwiches served on “everything” kaiser rolls, semolina pancakes with chestnut honey and fruit preserves, and a variety of pastries ranging from matcha-flavored Mexican sweet breads to molasses-brown butter chocolate chip cookies.
For a restaurant ostensibly aimed toward apartment residents, Winsome seems to be making efforts at connecting to the larger community — or at least referencing its layered cultural history. The interior will feature a re-creation of a 1938 watercolor mural by artist Phil Dike called Sunshine in Echo Park, while the restaurant's peacock logo designed by local artist Claire Oswalt nods to the flamboyant, noisy birds that occasionally roam the local hillsides.
With its tall windows, tree-shaded patio and historic pedigree, Winsome is a stunner. The bigger question is whether Echo Park is ready to support a traditional, upscale dining establishment. Restaurants such as critical darling Allumette (named one of Bon Appetit's Top 50 New Restaurants in the United States in 2013) and farm-to-table bistro Red Hill have both bitten the dust in this part of town, while casual establishments such as Guisados and Dinette have thrived. Could change be in the air?
Winsome, 1115 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park.