For devotees of clean, precise, market-oriented global cooking, it can be argued that the heyday of Patina may have been as important a crucible of Los Angeles dining as Spago was a decade earlier. Patina was the laboratory where a generation of young chefs learned to pair the mellowness of cooked vegetables with the sharper flavors of their raw counterparts, to compose brown-butter vinaigrettes, to arrange dishes using flavors and techniques from three continents. Foundry, a Melrose supper club run by Patina alum Eric Greenspan, is the newest restaurant from the orbit: a comfortable patio, a busy dining room, and a bar area dominated by laid-back piano music from founding Fishbone keyboardist Christopher Dowd.
If you dine in the main room, it really feels as if you are in the middle of the open kitchen, orders whizzing around your head. Waiters rush by with little cast-iron pots of pork belly with fried eggs and fitted rounds of toast; rare, crisp-skinned salmon with shaved beets and puréed beets; braised short ribs with an exceptionally airy horseradish-potato purée.
The menu is short, just five appetizers and five main courses — the waiters tend to push the $90 tasting menu — but the far-reaching wine list, put together by Mission Wine wizard (and former Patina sommelier) Chris Meeske, is long and reasonably priced. The cheese plate, curated by ex–Patina cheese guy Andrew Steiner, is the single best I have ever tasted in Los Angeles. 7465 Melrose Ave., L.A., (323) 651-0915.