When we last left Plan Check in mid-June, the popular Sawtelle home of chef Ernesto Uchimura was busy building out their next iteration on Fairfax. Well, after the tenderest two-day soft open (République, by contrast, was soft open for somewhere between two weeks and a decade), Plan Check Fairfax is finally here.
The newest location, slammed inside the short-lived former Vodvil board-game-as-night-club space, begins serving tomorrow night, Friday, Dec. 13. The dimmish lighting, reclaimed wood and chalkboard menu signs are all in place, and the building itself is almost twice as large as the original location on the Westside. That's good news for centrally-located eaters who couldn't stomach the thought of crossing under the 405 curtain for a fried chicken sandwich, even if it's been smoked, buttermilked and perfectly fried, as Plan Check's certainly are. See? Hold out long enough and all the fun stuff comes to you.
All of the hits are still in place at the new Fairfax location, including that hearty Plan Check Burger, layered with a dashi-fied American cheese slice, work-over onions and those love-them-or-hate-them strips of ketchup leather, the dehydrated and concentrated strips of semi-soft condiment that have become something of a calling card for the restaurant. That Jidori fried chicken is also on order, served as a sandwich or boneless entrée, with a touch of yam preserves and milk gravy on the side.
If longtime eaters at the O.G. location are looking for something new to sink their teeth into, the $14 Salmon Pastrami will have to do. The thick, slightly briny fish is worked over with ground pepper and laid on with a thin slice of crisp everything bagel, then topped with an ominous ring of squid ink cream cheese. This is an evil twin's version of bagels and lox, and the rumor is that ordering one means Uchimura himself watches you eat it from behind a portrait on the wall, moving his eyes almost imperceptibly.
Not to be outdone, Matt Biancaniello will serve as the mad genius behind the bar, offering Plan Checkers a slew of infused and reimagined drinks. There's the Fish Out of Water, touched off with bonito-infused grouse and agave syrup, or the Kentucky Bubble Bath, a Templeton rye and cynar mix. Others, like a reworked Breeders Cup that puts Tito's vodka and lime against the savoriness of smoked salt and horseradish, showcase the true lengths that Biancaniello is willing to go to keep drinkers guessing.
In all, the new Plan Check looks to boost the options considerably along Fairfax, where prior hangout options dropped off after Animal, Rosewood Tavern and Canter's. And if you were only eating at the Jewish deli because of its late hours, Plan Check can help with that too: the 4,000 square foot space is open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Next up for Uchimura and co-owner Terry Heller? Opening their third outpost at 1111 Wilshire, just west of downtown. That idea is to keep moving into interesting and population-dense neighborhoods so that nobody has to complain about the long haul for ketchup leather and that fried chicken sandwich. Wait long enough, and they'll bring it all to you.
Plan Check: 351 N. Fairfax Ave. in Los Angeles.
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Farley Elliott writes about food, drink and entertainment at OverOverUnder.com.