Our Critics' Picks


Scratch Bar

16101 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, California 91436
Scratch Bar +

Photo by Anne Fishbein Puffed smelt with bone marrow mustard at Scratch Bar


  • Lunch: Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner: Tue.-Sun., 5-10 p.m.
Can a chef really just do whatever the fuck he wants — with no classical training, no years spent working his way up through the ranks? Should the truly talented be able to fly free early and without constraints? Scratch Bar's kitchen stretches along the back wall of the small room like a stage, and much of the seating is at a bar facing the kitchen, where the cooks also act as waiters. These dudes are undeniably excited to serve you, to tell you all about the $40, $80 or $120 tasting menus, to watch you watch them put together dishes with the obvious goal of making them look like art (paintbrushes are utilized). In case you missed the connotation, the "scratch" in the name refers to the fact that Phillip Frankland Lee and his band of cooks make everything in-house, including bread and mustard and charcuterie and four kinds of cheese.

Read our full review.

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