For everyone who spends their weekends either at the beach or getting happily soused, here's a new way to combine the two activities. The Tasting Kitchen started serving brunch about 8 weeks ago. And no, this isn't your average basket of pastries and eggs benedict, but chef Casey Lane's take on his favorite meal. By that we mean, or rather he does, fried chicken and waffles.
The Tasting Kitchen, parked on Abbot Kinney in the space that, once upon a time, briefly housed AK, is what certain people fondly called "Italian cooking translated into an odd American dialect, not quite California dude-speak but something from an odd corner of the coast."
In the two years since it opened, the restaurant has grown into itself, with more fire and woodsmoke emanating from the kitchen, more alchemists bottles behind the bar, more groovy drawings and specials on the chalkboard walls. A good enough reason to dodge the surfers on a weekend morning and park yourself and your atavistic newspaper at one of the bar's tall tables.
Lane's fried chicken and waffles, of which he is understandably fond, were, he says, inspired by Cafeteria in Chelsea, which serves them 24 hours a day. As for the rest of it -- short rib hash with a baked egg and gremolata, a burger with bacon and egg, steak tartare, oysters and housemade sausage, a pastry menu which includes a giant sticky bun with strips of bacon artfully stuck to a corner -- Lane says that it's more like breakfast tapas than your normal brunch menu.
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There is also coffee, as there should be, a list of housemade sodas, and a full bar. Did we mention the full bar? "We want to bring drunk brunch to L.A.," explains Lane. Of course they do. And because weekend brunch, which is served from about 10:30 to 3 p.m., is the only time that The Tasting Kitchen is open before dinner, it's a cool way to eat at the restaurant if you hate staying out late. After a few of something the call Down the Hatch (vodka, elderflower, cucumber), you may just want to take a nap under your beach umbrella anyway.