Before the year ends, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the best new restaurants to open up in L.A. this year. Host A Martinez talks with Los Angeles magazine's restaurant critic Patric Kuh.
5 of Kuh's Best New Restaurants:
1.) Trois Mec
Mec means "guy" in French, so it's essentially Three Guys. It's Ludovic Lefebvre, who has had a 10-year run being a pop up chef and may have even invented the LA version. John Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the Animal guys. The idea was fairly wild, a takeover of Raffalo's Pizza behind the Unical station on Melrose and Highland.
To call it French is to oversimplify it, because the cooking is sort of open to every kind of cuisine. There may be Korean fermented black walnuts on a dish, there may be bonito flakes on a dish with potatoes. If you thought about it you'd say they can't do it, and yet it's a fantastic experience. You have to buy your ticket in advance.
It's a huge warehouse that has been taken over by a restaurant one block over from the LA River. Ori Menashe and his wife Genevieve Gergis and restauranteur Bill Chait, it could have very easily seemed themed. Like, OK, here's a country Italian cooking in a post-industrial setting, and what I'm always looking for is what's a chef trying to communicate through their food, and we're all sort of tired of themed dining.
Ultimately I find the most exciting restaurants communicate something about the individuals behind it and their vision. Yes, it's very masculine, the beef heart tartare sharpened with some champagne vinegar is just fantastic. Then, lots of people just go for a pizza, so its not like, oh my goodness I have to be a foodie and know everything about Italian food before I can appreciate that. It's actually quite approachable.
3.) Bar Ama
Joseph Centeno, he's originally from San Antonio, texas. In LA he's made his reputation with a place called Baco Mercat, but with his second restaurant he's done something very tricky. In a way returned to his roots and that's a nice warm, wonderful thing to do, but in food that doesn't always translate. I'm always a little wary when chefs get nostalgic because I want it to be fantastic, but it isn't always. In this case it is fantastic, it's a vision of tex-mex cuisine through the eyes of a really gifted cook.
4.) Hinoki & the Bird
Hinoki is a type of Japanese wood, it's rare and it's highly respected. David Myers, who is a French-trained chef, it's wonderful to watch because he's relaxed and embraced a kind of izakaya mentality, a type of Japanese pub where you'd find people drinking beers and having a few skewers of grilled meats. This place is very relaxed, the baquetes upholstered in denim, as you know the Japanese have this kind of fascination with American denim, great Japanese scotches and great beers on tap. It shows a real evolution.
This is a place in the Helms Bakery complex in Culver City. It's again this idea of the chef has to really pull it off. He makes the most pure version of pasta without even using a roller machine. He mixes it by hand and he won't even roll it with the machines that 99 our of 100 restaurants use. Everything has to be rolled by hand, cut by hand, he's a real purist, Evan Funke.