Choco Chicken (Los Angeles, CA)

Choco Chicken
403 W 12th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 5/28/14

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At first, chocolate and fried chicken sounded like an odd pairing. When I thought about it some more, I was intrigued and really wanted to try it. I imagine chicken & waffles smothered in a syrup elicited the same initial response, but has become a classic pairing. Some have likened this savory chocolate-chicken application to a mole sauce, though this would be very different. Among almost 20 other spices, a cocoa powder is applied to the chicken’s batter for a unique flavor. That’s after brining the chicken in a mixture that, of course, also includes chocolate.

Adam Fleischman, who brought the Umami Burger and 800 Degrees concepts to life, is also behind Choco Chicken. I’m a pretty big fan of both of those restaurants and figured I would be in good hands during this media preview evening. The restaurant is supposed to open to the public any day now in the former Corkbar space a few blocks away from the Staples Center. Owners feel strong about the concept, with expansion already in the works for a Santa Monica location.

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Faith & Flower (Los Angeles, CA)

Faith & Flower
705 W 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 4/3/14

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Faith & Flower is one of the bigger downtown restaurant openings lately, brought to us by a powerful partnership between Coastal Luxury Management (Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Los Angeles Food & Wine) and Stephane Bombet (Picca). It’s the first LA restaurant opening for the high-profile CLM team and Bombet’s first since his partnership with Ricardo Zarate.

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The restaurant space, formerly Towne Food & Drink, is large and quite nice. Located near LA Live, it has a luxurious-feeling interior, though still feels comfortable for someone having a casual meal out. The restaurant partners brought in chef Michael Hung to execute the menu, who comes with a San Francisco-based fine dining pedigree (Jardinere, La Folie). The food is more approachable than his background may suggest; it could be classified as modern American and I found a lot of Asian flair throughout his food. Between our party of three, we sampled our way through a good portion of the menu, picking out a number of vegetarian-friendly items for our vegetarian friend.

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Fifty Seven (Los Angeles, CA)

Fifty Seven
712 S Santa Fe Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dining date: 3/28/14

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Located in between popular daytime options Bread Lounge and Stumptown Coffee and just around the corner from always-popular Bestia, Fifty Seven is the latest restaurant opening in the red hot Arts District. The restaurant, which opened this past week, is to me one of the more intriguing recent concepts. The format has been compared to the old Test Kitchen and its revolving door of chefs creating their own menus. Whereas Test Kitchen stints typically lasted just a few days, Fifty Seven will welcome a new chef every few months to come in and create an entirely new menu. To me, the success of Fifty Seven will ultimately be dependent upon the quality and excitement of the chefs they are able to bring in.

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David Nayfield is the chef in residence and the first chef to craft their own menu. Nayfield has a strong pedigree, most recently coming from the highly acclaimed Eleven Madison Park. He brings his progressive American cuisine in the form of a $48 three-course menu with a handful of additional a la carte snacks available. Three different options were available for each course; between the two of us, we were able to sample two-thirds of the options and added on two snacks for good measure.

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Zo (Los Angeles, CA)

Zo
334 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 3/7/14

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I’ve only visited Cheviot Hills’ Sushi Zo a couple of times, but both times I’ve concluded that it was a top-tier sushi place in Los Angeles. So, I was very excited to hear chef Keizo Seki was opening up a downtown location in the Medallion Apartments at 4th & Main. While downtown (particularly Little Tokyo) has a few good sushi spots, I wouldn’t say there is anything really special. There are, of course, some good deals (Sushi Gen) but no destination sushiyas where I feel it’s worthwhile for someone to drive in from outside of greater downtown. Zo is really the first high caliber omakase-only, sushi-dedicated restaurant to open in downtown LA (Q Sushi opened up nearby shortly thereafter and is also cut from the same cloth).

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While Zo opened in September, my first visit was just earlier this month – way overdue. The omakase menu runs in the mid-$100 range for around 25-30 courses (it varies depending on what is available).

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The Factory Kitchen (Los Angeles, CA)

The Factory Kitchen
1300 Factory Pl Ste 101
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 2/25/14

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The Factory Kitchen, opened four months ago, is one of the newer entrants to the still-hot downtown food scene, particularly the Arts District. It joins Drago Centro, Bestia and Maccheroni Republic as Italian restaurants to open up in the area in the last couple of years.

The Factory Kitchen has a strong LA Italian pedigree with front of the house Matteo Ferdinandi (CUT, Drago Centro) and chef Angelo Auriana (Valentino) partnering up on the restaurant. Generally, reviews have been positive early on. A lot of people have been comparing this restaurant to neighborhood darling Bestia; given I’m such a huge fan of Bestia, a visit here was definitely in order. There are a number of similarities between The Factory Kitchen and Bestia including they (obviously) both serve Italian fare and share a similar price point, but they are distinctly different in menu and vibe.

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Bestia (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

Bestia
2121 7th Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dining date: 8/17/13, 11/8/13, 1/3/14

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Bestia has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in the city with its delicious Italian food. I’m not the only one that’s visited regularly as the restaurant seems to be packed night-in and night-out for those stopping in for Ori Menashe’s food, wife Genevieve’s desserts, or Julian Cox’s cocktails. Maybe even all three.

I’ve dined at Bestia every couple of months; my first post covered my first three meals while this one recaps my last three visits. Each time, we’ve ordered a mix of ‘old’ favorites and new ones, slowly making our way through the ever-changing seasonal menu.

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