The chef shares his top picks of the heavenly new eateries in the City of Angels.
The LA food scene is getting better and better, with fresh restaurants joining those that have been doing great things for years.
Bavel is a new Middle Eastern-inspired place owned by the guys from Bestia, an excellent Italian restaurant downtown. With a woodfired oven cooking fresh flatbread and a grill doing meats and vegetables, it’s seriously good and became a favourite on my last trip. The hummus was silky smooth and creamy, while the baba ganoush was super-fine and smoky with a pepper and walnut relish in the centre. Like all the dips, they were served with pita bread. The cucumber and artichoke salad was complex, crunchy and clean – excellent with the purple butter lettuce salad. Our sommelier recommended a Domaine Du Bagnol appellation Cassis to complement the starters – dry but with a honey finish.
We shared the slow-roasted lamb neck shawarma for a main. It was so delicious, I’m dreaming of the next time I eat lamb, spiced pickle, nutty, creamy tahini and soft bread together. With the lamb, we drank a Château Simone appellation Palette. It had the spice and richness of a good Rhône.
Our dessert of strawberry sumac and sweet cheese pastry with pistachio ice-cream was as enjoyable as the rest of the meal. Awesome food, wine and service.
NoMad is a wonderful new hotel that’s just opened in LA. The dining part is run by the boys from New York’s Eleven Madison Park so you expect a lot and it certainly delivers. It’s in a beautiful Art Deco building – downstairs is the lobby, reception and two bars, and the dining room, with its ornate gold and blue ceiling, is a mezzanine encircling the lobby. The service is stellar and the staff charming.
The fruit de mer platter was a masterclass in fresh local seafood – tuna with grated horseradish, sea urchin, slow-cooked abalone, scallop and crab and the salad of beets with radicchio and orange was well balanced. Both dishes were perfect with a powerful Puligny-Montrachet by Etienne Sauzet.
For mains, the roast chicken for two was hard to go past. A mix of foie gras, truffles and brioche was stuffed under the skin of a whole chicken then presented, golden brown, with fresh herbs in the cavity. It looked spectacular and went wonderfully with the Côte-Rôtie by Domaine Jamet.
Hidden in an industrial zone north of Chinatown, Majordōmo, the LA debut of David Chang from Momofuku, has an Asian-influenced menu featuring noodles, meat and fish dishes, all made with seasonal ingredients. The sprawling space is softened with wood furnishings and natural light. If you can’t get a table, the full menu is available at the bar. The beverage program, run by Richard Hargreave (ex-Momofuku Seiōbo Sydney), is amazing.