What is it that we love so very much about the hidden restaurant/bar/deli? Could it be that our DNA is encoded with the thrill of discovery? Our hunter-gatherer days are not so long gone (in the grand scheme of things) — perhaps we're genetically inclined to get a kick of dopamine from uncovering good things to eat.
Whatever the reason, the trend that began with speakeasies, and then moved on to restaurants behind grilled cheese shops and delis hidden in the back of corner stores, gets another inductee this week with LSXO, a 28-seat restaurant behind a hidden door inside Blackhouse Hospitality's newest restaurant, Bluegold (also open as of this week). The duel concept is located in Huntington Beach and is Blackhouse's first foray into Orange County.
Blackhouse, run by Jed Sanford and chef Tin Vuong, is one of those restaurant groups that clearly aims for world domination, and its expansion in recent years is a little mind-boggling. Bluegold is perhaps its most ambitious restaurant to date, in terms of size and scope. With a sweeping view of the ocean, the restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch in a 235-seat dining room. The food is billed as modern Californian, and seems to be mixing a classic beachside raw-bar seafood restaurant with rustic California farm-to-table elements. It also seems to have no real boundaries; menu items include shakshuka, sea urchin risotto and a Cuban sandwich.
LSXO sits behind an unmarked door inside Bluegold. Though the two share a kitchen, they are very different restaurants. LSXO is more along the lines of Little Sister, the Manhattan Beach Southeast Asian restaurant that alerted many of us to Vuong's talent in the first place. “LSXO offers straight-up, honest, home-style Vietnamese cuisine — the type of food I grew up eating with my grandparents in the San Gabriel Valley,” Vuong says. With a menu that includes foie gras and pho-spiced oxtail torchon, and roasted squab with crullers, that sounds like a pretty cool way to grow up.
What's next? A restaurant in a cave in Griffith Park? An ice cream parlor hidden inside the DMV? Actually that sounds awesome. Someone get on it.