952 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 8/20/13
Ari Taymor opened up Alma in the middle of last year, after having brought his pop-up restaurant slowly east from Venice to Silverlake and finally opening permanently in downtown LA. Taymor has had a relatively brief cooking career (he’s only 27), having spent time in San Francisco’s Flour+Water and Bar Tartine, but has really exploded onto the scene in recent months.
Last week, Alma was named the #1 best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit, beating out even the vaunted Saison. The restaurant has been a critical darling since opening (JGold/LA Times, Besha/LA Weekly), though it currently maintains a relatively pedestrian 3.5 star rating on Yelp. I dined here towards the end of last year and placed it in the ‘good but not great’ category, but figured it was time for a return.
1119 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 6/2/13
When Jeremy Fox was named Executive Chef of Rustic Canyon a few months ago, a return visit quickly shot up my list of places to eat. Fox, who garnered a Michelin star cooking vegetarian at Ubuntu in Napa, has been hard to catch up with since moving to LA a couple years ago. He’s held a number of quick consulting chef engagements and pop-ups around town (Freddie Smalls, Paper or Plastik, Barnyard, Old Soul @ Square One), departing each before I could find the time to go (or even before the restaurant opened). I’ve even missed his guest stints at last year’s 5×5 Collaborative Dinner @ Providence and Test Kitchen @ Bestia due to being out of the country. Needless to say, I was glad to finally be able to track down his cooking here in Santa Monica.
I’ve been to Rustic Canyon a few times; while probably best known for its burger, I’ve always felt the restaurant was pretty solid all-around. The burger is no longer on the menu, replaced with Fox’s own creations. It’s largely centered on seasonal small plates with a few larger entree-sized items. Similar to sister restaurants Huckleberry, Sweet Rose Creamery, and Milo & Olive, desserts are from the mind of co-owner Zoe Nathan.