Do you remember the famous Robert Mapplethorpe photographs of his muse Lisa Lyons, a sweetly feminine bodybuilder with the musculature of a Michelangelo god? Tiara is a little like that, its walls a sinewy pink, its Japanese lichen trees dripping like kelly-green apparitions from a Dr. Seuss book, its giant range hood tricked out to resemble the kind of tiara that Godzilla might wear if he were exploring his feminine side. Other places may be girly; this place is girly on steroids.
Tiara is the organic-minded Fashion District creation of Fred Eric, the chef who practically invented the hypereclectic style of the modern Los Angeles restaurant. The Asian-tinged pan-Mediterranean menu is painted in 17 shades of farmers-market salad: grilled vegetables tossed with smoked leeks; Moroccan-tinged fruit salads with mint, cucumber and cumin; marinated artichoke hearts with feta, grilled chicken breasts, and spears of romaine lettuce. There are bubbly lengths of curry-brushed flatbread served with little dishes of baba ghanoush and pureed fresh fava beans, a Cuban-style pressed sandwich made with smoked duck and house-pickled cucumbers, and noodle dishes (vegan and not) — I suspect there isn’t a single peculiar diet or system of culinary belief the kitchen is not prepared to handle. In its first weeks, Tiara is serving only breakfast and lunch — but an adjoining takeout market will be up within a couple of weeks and dinners will start just in time for Sparks season. Tiara, 127 E. Ninth St., downtown, (213) 623-3663.