Restaurants

Manhattan Beach’s Favorite New Quirky-cool Downtown Café Homie

Come Homie

Dine and shop at Manhattan Beach’s Favorite New Quirky-cool Downtown Café Homie

Manhattan Beach has become a bit of an epicenter for delicious and stylish restaurants. Woven throughout our beach community are great little haunts like Homie, the new café with an eclectic beach-bohemian vibe that achieved cult-status basically overnight. 

“We feel so blessed that our community has embraced us like it has, and the store is doing so well because of everyone’s support,” shares owner and native Manhattan Beach resident Kelley Bailey Haley, who has restauranteering in her DNA, having worked closely for years with the family who owned Tallia’s and also been part of the original crew that opened neighboring Mangiamo’s.

Streetside outdoor dining

Haley took a hiatus to pursue nursing in a pediatric center, but her dream of opening her own restaurant never left her. “I wanted to create something small, local, and relaxing,” she shares, “so when this particular downtown location came available, I was on it, and it turned out to be such an amazing spot for us.”

Meanwhile, homie’s chef, Jason LeClaire, another South Bay native who has been cooking flavorful simple food for 30 years, co-created the menu with Haley. They selected simple items that they and their kids enjoy eating. “Our desire was to make fun and easy food that was really fresh and thoughtfully sourced,”

Homie boutique

Haley explains. Having grown up in Manhattan Beach, Haley wanted to support local business with her venture, therefore she buys all of her meat products from local meat counter Manhattan Meat Market and bread from the Bread Bar bakery in El Segundo, which delivers provisions daily—fresh and still warm. 

Commune table in the dining room

Patrons delight over yummy dishes like the Home Skillet, a breakfast bowl with white corn baby squash and avocado on cauliflower rice that is served all day. “People love our breakfast burritos, and we kept that item as a nod to our friends who had the space previous to us,” Haley explains warmly. Other favorites are the Street Tacos, and the Bruschetta is quite amazing. The delicious showstopper dessert is the Betty, which is toasted shortcake, fresh mixed fruit and vanilla cream.

Cappuccino

The café also serves a variety of craft beer, organic wine and has just added craft cocktails, being one of only 100 restaurants in California that are experimenting with new alcohol concepts like rice-based Vodka. These concoctions make homie the perfect stop for a Bailey cocktail or a Bloody Mary while enjoying the breezy, carefree atmosphere.

Fresh bruschetta

Within the walls of homie’s stylish setting, Haley’s mix of eclectic food and trendy retail is spot-on with her vision. “Since the store was zoned for retail-restaurant, we started experimenting with different ideas and came up with our own line of homie-branded products like T-shirts, hats and candles, which are selling like hot cakes, and the rest of the retail just kind of grew from there,” states Haley.

Sitting lounge at Homie

She also does a great business with her jewelry designer Wendy Stillman, who is known for her abstract tribal art and greeting cards, as well as locally designed MB Surplus jewelry that is fun and edgy. When perusing the store, one finds Haley’s very own line of plants and mini succulents from her gardening collection, livingsmall. 

Haley, a self-proclaimed picker who loves flea markets, mixing design eras and finding new talent, has blended it all in the winning recipe that is homie.

Homie

1140 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310.546.4663  |  homiemb.com

Farmhouse May Be The Ultimate Farm-to-Table Restaurant

“I want our guests at FARMHOUSE to have the same experience they would have if they stayed for dinner at my home,” says Peitso, who opened his eatery this past March.

“FARMHOUSE’s cuisine is heavily influenced by my background in agriculture and understanding of California’s local agricultural community.

I have been growing and cooking my entire life, and I know when ingredients are at their peak during each season, so I have developed a palate specifically for Southern Californian cuisine.”

Set on the street level of the Beverly Center, FARMHOUSE melds traditional American farm décor with contemporary finishes and treatments, such as Craftsman-style moldings, wood ceilings, slate and oak flooring, exposed brick and vintage wallpaper.

The large open kitchen boasting shelves of canned and preserved items is a highlight of the 7,000-square-foot space, which is divided into intimate areas, including a “living room” with a marquee fireplace, “greenhouse” atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows and “farmer’s table” enclave.

Peitso has conceived a menu of simple, vegetable-forward Californian cuisine that’s seasonal and sourced from his family farm and a network of local growers. “Each dish will feature a light touch of culinary technique—such as grilling or roasting in a wood-burning oven—that will let the flavors of the ingredients speak for themselves,” he says.

Among the standout dishes is a lightly seared black cod with local herbed potatoes and a soft-boiled egg; an eight-hour braised lamb shoulder served with daikon Romesco and roasted carrots, and a dry-aged Creekstone burger loaded with pickled vegetables and served on a house-made brioche bun prepared with wheat grown and ground at Peitso’s farm.

As for the beverage program, FARMHOUSE specializes in a handpicked selection of small-batch wine, spirits, Kombucha and craft beer exclusively brewed in L.A.

The must-have drink? A Mad Men-style, 7.5-ounce martini mixed with locally produced vodka.

I want FARMHOUSE to bring a level of agricultural authenticity to its menu that’s in short supply in Los Angeles. 

“Most importantly, my team and I want to provide high-quality, seasonal vegetables and protein in an approachable and inclusive environment.”

farmhousela.com

BALEENkitchen - Portofino Hotel & Marina diner

BALEENKitchen at The Portofino Hotel & Marina is a Top 10 for Waterside Dining

The newly revamped BALEENkitchen at The Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach is quickly becoming one of the South Bay’s hottest spots to dine and imbibe, complete with updated environs overlooking stunning views of the King Harbor and Portofino marinas, as well as new menus, outdoor programming, live entertainment, daily specials and much more.

BALEENkitchen - Portofino Hotel & Marina diner

“The façade of BALEENkitchen recently underwent a refresh, so the management team decided the next step was to update the interiors since it was last done in 2011,” says Duane Rohrbaugh, general manager of the Portofino Hotel & Marina.

The vision was to create a local, fresh beach vibe that was fun, inviting and comfortable.

Restaurant and hotel ownership group Noble House Hotels & Resorts tasked in-house chief creative officer, Scott Colee, and interior designer, Erin Weiner, to bring its vision to reality.

Nautically Inspired Environment Focuses on Views

The result? A 3,480-square-foot, relaxed yet refined dining room featuring a nautically-inspired environment, accented by dark wood, shades of cream and blue, crystal chandeliers and a stately fireplace, along with an adjacent waterside patio highlighted by fire pits.

BALEENkitchen - Portofino Hotel & Marina diner

“Upon entering, guests will marvel at the breathtaking waterfront views and elegant design,” says Rohrbaugh. “The style of BALEENkitchen before the renovation was more of a men’s club style of design with darker colors and rich fabrics and leather, while the new design provides a light and airy ambiance and enhances the views.”

As for the culinary offerings, recently appointed Chef de Cuisines Vasili Tavernakis and Paul Dinulescu is now serving a series of new breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menus showcasing seafood and assorted tapas.

A Backstage Look at the Menu

Among the offerings: seafood poke with salmon, shrimp, tuna, avocado, cucumber, wakame salad and soy vinaigrette; yellowtail snapper Hamachi with kohlrabi, Calabrian chile, hazelnut relish and citrus ponzu; and pan-roasted diver scallops with corn-truffle purée, pee wee potato, roasted mushrooms, lardons, blistered cherry tomatoes and jalapeño honey.

BALEENkitchen - Portofino Hotel & Marina menu

A Simply Grilled section showcases fresh shrimp, scallops, sea bass, filet of beef or hanger steak served with baleen steak sauce, chimichurri or caper remoulade. Still, other options include house-made pastries, “Huevos Redondos” and braised duck street tacos.

Also making its debut is the Chefs Table, a back-stage look at dinner service that includes in-depth conversations with BALEEN’s Chefs de Cuisines regarding their dishes and a range of menus starting at $65 per person.

BALEENkitchen - Portofino Hotel & Marina pork

Not to be missed is the lounge, featuring a happy hour and specialty cocktails inspired by Redondo Beach locales.

Think “I’ll Be Your Huckleberry”—with Maker’s Mark bourbon, blackberry, basil, lemon and ginger beer—and “Catch Me If You Can”—with Bombay Sapphire gin, watermelon, passion fruit, hibiscus, and allspice.

Location:
The Portofino Hotel & Marina
260 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Reservations: 800-468-4292 

Building on the Past

The former City Market of Los Angeles finds new life as a Fashion District destination

Written by Wendy Bowman

When the owners of The City Market of Los Angeles were looking to do something new with the 10 acres of land that served as a wholesale produce market from 1909 through 2009, they invited developers Mark Levy and Kevin Napoli of LENA Group to examine their master plan for a new mixed-use development. The pair inquired about the property’s eight existing historic buildings on the southern end of the property, and then went to work to create a vision for the industrial-era concrete structures that would eventually be reborn as City Market South, a 2.5-acre open and walkable hub of restaurants, bars, creative office space, event areas and more at the intersection of Downtown L.A.’s Fashion and Wholesale districts.

“There weren’t a lot of frills to the buildings architecturally, but they were very interesting, and just as important, if not more important, is how they were laid out; they were designed around pre-automobile days,” says Levy, president of City Market South and a partner in LENA Group, which is developing the project with Peter Fleming, CEO of The City Market of Los Angeles. “The buildings lent themselves to a naturally formed plaza in the center of the development, and we saw that as an opportunity to create something you typically see in Latin American, European and East Coast cities designed around the pedestrian experience.”

Fast-forward to today, and LENA Group already has opened a portion of the 2.5-acre City Market South development between San Julian and San Pedro streets, south of 11th Street. The project serves as phase one of the greater City Market of Los Angeles’ 1.7 million square foot renewal projected to take place in phases during the next 20 years, complete with a university campus, corporate campus, hotel, multifamily residential housing and retail.

Within City Market South, expect a 75,000-square-foot center highlighted by pepper tree-lined paths, al fresco dining areas, repurposed brick warehouses and concrete buildings boasting vaulted, bow-truss ceilings. Other features include a bocce ball court, valet parking, and the capabilities to host about 30 annual events. Some businesses—including Steve Samson’s Rossoblu restaurant, Yeekai Lim’s Cognoscenti Coffee and a showroom from the clothing brand Lovestitch—are open now, with the remainder set to debut throughout 2017 and early next year. Coming up: chef Charles Phan’s The Slanted Door, and an indoor-outdoor cocktail bar and food concept by Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix, along with movie studio offices and the City Market Social House event and production venue.

“When the Arts District started, there were a lot of empty buildings,” says Levy. “Here, you have an active engine during the day with the garment wholesale business and built-in foot traffic. We’re at the forefront of, ‘What do you do after 5 or 6 o’clock after the stores close?’—adding that nighttime element and bringing in more diverse users like creative office tenants to complement what’s already there.”

CITY MARKET SOUTH

1057 S. SAN PEDRO ST., SUITE 201

LOS ANGELES, CA 90015

CITYMARKETSOUTH.COM

Standing Room Only

A buzzy burger joint turns fun foodie spot in Hermosa Beach

Written by Joclene Davey

Known for its burgers and live music hall, The Standing Room in Hermosa Beach is gaining a bar food meets foodie reputation via its updated menu. The restaurant’s unique twist on simple menu items and vast assortment of whisky make for a lively spot to indulge unique fare and entertainment.

Owner and chef, Lowell Bakke launched The Standing Room in Redondo Beach from the Catalina Liquor Store as a take-out location. The spot quickly became a success due to its famously oversized burgers and Asian-American influence. The good fortune of the first location convinced Bakke to launch a second outpost with additional menu items, live music, and a full-service bar.

Expect a step-up in the burger category with a variety of options like the Dressed Burger, with arugula, caramelized onion, bacon, smoked Gouda cheese, blue cheese, Korean aioli, tomato jam and a fried egg. Another standing favorite is the Cash Burger, with Japanese Shishito peppers and crispy onions.

The menu, however, has more of a Gastropub feel, especially once Bakke brought on chef Matt Webb. Starters received a unique spin like togarashi spiced pork rinds and soft shell crab sliders on black steam buns. The eatery also began adding plated options, a promising future for foodies looking for new locales with fare to sink their teeth into. A perfect example is the Short Rib Bibimbap, a typical Korean dish, made with a succulent chunk of short rib meat served with sticky rice, Korean pickles, assorted vegetables and a runny egg.

Scattered throughout the menu one finds interesting ingredients like poignant Korean kimchi as well as seasonal items found in the Summer Peach Salad or Watermelon Kale Salad. “My mother is Korean and that definitely has influenced my cooking, along with being raised in Hawaii, which is a melting pot of Asian influenced food,” shares Bakke.

Restaurant by day and local hang out by night, The Standing Room features live music Thursday through Saturday each week. From local bands to jam night, the atmosphere is relaxed and rock-n-roll. Happy hour throughout the week offers great drink and food specials at unheard of prices, like all you can eat Taco Tuesday, including a draft beer, for $15.

One of Standing Room’s latest drinks, the Bloody Bull (a Bloody Mary with beef broth, homemade beef jerky and blue cheese-stuffed olives) alongside a hearty brunch on Saturday and Sunday might just be the cure one needs after a jam session the previous night. Hawaiian French Toast with Nutella, bananas and coconut will certainly satisfy any sweet tooth, while the Kimchi Fried Rice with Portuguese Sausage will appease even the most ferocious appetite.

Bakke is one to keep an eye on, with his growth mindset and creative spirit. He states, “We are always exploring opportunities for new locations, and pushing for new concepts and something fresh, but we won’t rush it.” Some things are worth waiting for.

THE STANDING ROOM

1320 HERMOSA AVE., HERMOSA BEACH

144 N. CATALINA AVE., REDONDO BEACH

THESTANDINGROOMRESTAURANT.COM

Fresh Flavor

Renowned local chef and one-time champion of Food Network’s Chopped, D. Brandon Walker has built an inventive eatery in his own neighborhood of Mar Vista

Written by Virginia Fay

Hand-crafted wooden tables sit below 12-foot skylights filling the breezy space with light. On your plate is food as fresh as the live plants hanging from exposed beams overhead. This is The Mar Vista, a farm-to-table restaurant nestled into the Westside’s Mar Vista neighborhood serving “progressive Angeleno” fare, as described by the restaurant’s Executive Chef D. Brandon Walker, or “Chef D.,” as he’s more commonly known.

A Los Angeles local, Walker strongly believes that the city has a flavor all its own. “For a long time now, I’ve felt that Los Angeles really couldn’t be under the umbrella of California cuisine any longer, because there are so many amazing traditions here… that are very specific to Los Angeles,” Walker says, citing generations of Korean, Oaxacan, and Armenian food as examples of the city’s cooking traditions.

In creating The Mar Vista’s menu, Walker took all of these traditions into account, calling it a reimagining of the flavors of his childhood. Besides his deeply ingrained appreciation of L.A. cuisine is Walker’s great respect for the seasonally- and regionally-driven cooking methods of cultures worldwide.

Walker and The Mar Vista’s Chef de Cuisine Jorge Rivas share a passion for international travel, and have even cooked around the world together. The two, along with Executive Chef Jill Davie, brought this methodology to bear when they created The Mar Vista concept. The menu is divided into seven main “boxes,” Walker explains, including self-explanatory staples like “saladry” and “sweet things,” and more distinctive categories such as “turned,” dishes cooked in a Brazilian-barbecue style, and hot pots. While they didn’t want to offer only small plates, the “all play” menu subhead has tantalizing options for those in the mood for tapas-style dining, while “plates” includes hearty entrées.

No matter the category, the menu, especially its weekly specials, is driven largely by what local ingredients are freshest. Recently, Walker found himself with an extra supply of andouille sausage after brunch and made a special jambalaya hot pot, a “mash up of New Orleans and Korea,” as he describes it. His signature “mash-up” cooking style is also born, in part, from his time at the St. Joseph Center. As the executive chef of Bread & Roses Café there, he cooked gourmet meals for homeless people five days a week. Using whatever the kitchen had on hand to create top-quality meals bred an inventive cooking style that he’s applied to The Mar Vista menu.

This cooking style is perfectly encapsulated, Walker says, in one of The Mar Vista’s most popular dishes, and his personal favorite: pork osso bucco. He braises the pork shank in pasole, a traditional Mexican bone and chile soup, and serves it with Anaheim chile hominy sweet corn, a toasted pepita vinaigrette, and dresses it with red mizuna and frisée. Walker’s goal for the restaurant was to create “the kind of place you want to stay for a while,” and with innovative standbys and weekly specials like this, paired with the eatery’s eminently inviting atmosphere, it’s safe to say: mission accomplished.

 

 

Gourmet Holiday

The summertime installment of dineL.A. presents more than 350 restaurants offering multi-course deals

Written by Wendy Bowman

Prepare to venture out on a “Summer Roadtrip” of the city’s diverse neighborhoods and eclectic cuisines July 14-28 via Summer dineL.A., complete with an official Roadtrip Guide designed by Emmy awardwinning artist Gary Baseman that highlights iconic L.A. landmarks and restaurants, as well as a partnership with the California Avocado Commission that showcases the fruit in creative dishes prepared by seven chef ambassadors, from Neal Fraser (Redbird) to Nick Erven (Erven).

“We have more than 350 restaurants participating this summer,” says Stella Yeo, assistant manager for Discover Los Angeles, producers of the bi-annual food event. “With so many restaurant options, diners can feast on the city’s wide range of cuisines, price points and diverse options. For example, a diner can enjoy an ethnic fusion of Indian meets gastropub at Badmaash for lunch and then opt for a fine-dining tasting menu at Providence for dinner.”

This summer, several newcomers such as Barrel & Ashes, miro, Westbound, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, Odys + Penelope, Officine BRERA and Wolf will participate alongside fan favorites such as Lucques, Church & State, Connie and Ted’s, E.P. & L.P., and Gracias Madre. The event also features several newly opened restaurants—such as Rossoblu, Sweet Chick, Gratitude Beverly Hills and The Ponte Ristorante—offering diners the chance to savor these concepts for the first time.

“The best thing about the dineL.A. program is that diners can enjoy their favorite restaurants with menus at approachable price points,” says Yeo. Restaurants will offer specially priced menus for lunch (starting at $15) and dinner (starting at $29). Diners also can enjoy more savings through dineL.A. sponsor American Express just by signing up and using the card at all participating establishments to receive $5 off the final bill of $25 or more. In addition, the Exclusive Series presented by American Express gives diners an opportunity to enjoy 18 of L.A.’s most high-end restaurants (Providence, Melissé, Spago, The Arthur J, Otium, and Baltaire) at a reasonably priced $95-plus for dinner. Eat hearty!

FOR MORE INFORMATION, NEWS AND UPDATES,

VISIT DINELA.COM.

Brazilian Reborn

Guests of the Beverly Hills outpost of Fogo de Chão now can enjoy the restaurant’s authentic churrasco dining experience in a newly revamped atmosphere

Written by Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Fogo de Chão

The Beverly Hills site of Brazilian-themed restaurant Fogo de Chão has been around for 12 years, complete with gaucho-clad chefs moving from table to table to tempt guests with giant skewers of savory, fire-roasted meats like the house specialty, Picanha—a tender, juicy cut of top sirloin. Now there’s even more reason to visit the La Cienega landmark, thanks to a recent remodel thoughtfully designed to pay homage to Fogo’s Southern Brazilian roots.

“We offer guests a fun, energetic and engaging atmosphere with a unique, Southern Brazilian [flair] that, while modern and contemporary, still maintains the roots and tradition of our very first restaurant in Brazil,” says Larry Johnson, CEO of Fogo de Chão. “The new design boasts an atmosphere that is warm, contemporary and timeless to really enhance the guest experience.”
The redesigned restaurant, located at 133 N. La Cienega Blvd.— just north of Wilshire Boulevard, near Matsuhisa, Lawry’s the Prime Rib, SLS Hotel and Beverly Center—was completed by George Kelly of L.A.-based Kelly Architects. Among the highlights: a 16-foot, bas-relief rendition of “O Laçador”—a nod to the original gaucho monument erected in 1958 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the home of the original Fogo de Chão—along with an outdoor patio sporting a living greenery wall.

Adding to the experience is an expanded Bar Fogo menu, offering a more casual dining option, featuring new small plates, cocktails and menu items starting at just $4 during weekday happy hour. Some of the most popular selections range from braised beef rib sliders to Brazilian empanadas and grilled beef tenderloin skewers, along with other seasonal options, including a refreshing lentil quinoa salad, blackberry arugula salad and carrot ginger soup, as well as the mango ginger martini.
“The new Bar Fogo menu is our largest bar menu innovation since arriving in the United States 20 years ago,” says Johnson. “Similar to our lunch and weekend Brazilian Brunch offerings, the Bar Fogo platform is designed [to] give guests more opportunities to enjoy Fogo at a variety of price points with compelling value.” Tie on those bibs, and get ready to enjoy the feast!

FOGO DE CHÃO
BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE
133 NORTH LA CIENEGA BLVD.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90211
310.289.7755
FOGODECHAO.COM

 

Hidden Gem

Named for one of the most famous, elegant and expensive streets in Rome, Santa Monica’s Via Veneto restaurant exudes an Italian vibe via its warm setting and authentic flare

Written by Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Via Veneto

When Via Veneto first began serving fine Italian fare almost two decades ago on Main Street in Santa Monica—a fairly run-down area at the time, almost an extension of the Venice Beach boardwalk—many people thought that its born-and-bred Italian owners, Fabrizio Bianconi and Marco Cialini, were a little bit off their rockers. Now, 16 years later, the intimate and romantic restaurant has carved out quite a home for itself amid the blossoming neighborhood, serving as a favorite spot for celebrating special occasions—from birthdays to anniversaries to engagements—and attracting a loyal clientele that includes a regular cast of celebrities.

“We opened Via Veneto in 2001, at a time when Santa Monica looked very different compared to what it has become today,” says Bianconi. “The city felt dreary and shady and had not yet become the Santa Monica Angelenos know now. It was a crazy idea, offering the type of high-end fine-dining experience I wanted to offer, serving the authentic Italian food I grew up eating in the Tuscany region of Lazio, in a gorgeous, intimate space with a valet drop off out front. Somehow, it was exactly what the city needed, and we have been hugely successful.”

Little has changed in that time. The restaurant has remained at its beautiful location on Main Street; a master list of every dish ever served is kept on hand to bring regulars’ favorites back into the monthly rotating menu, and guests return time and again to observe key milestones in their lives. Through the years, Via Veneto also has emerged as a favorite destination among celebrities, with the odds pretty high of spotting a famous face enjoying a meal at the eatery’s cozy seats and small tables nightly. Among them: Harrison Ford, Oliver Stone, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sean Penn, Charlize Theron, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Piven, Madonna, Sylvester Stallone, Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Keanu Reeves and Steven Spielberg.

The undeniable allure? Bianconi’s passion for sharing his home country’s cuisine, along with his and chef Ruben Vasquez’s dedication to elevating traditional Italian comfort food to creative, high-quality fare using organic, locally grown and sourced ingredients. Highlights include an off-the-menu Ravioli Trio special (a flight of delicate, handmade pasta stuffed with sweet lobster, fresh asparagus and ricotta, and pumpkin with butter and sage), followed closely by Melanzane Alla Parmigiana (parmigiana-style eggplant) and Burrata E San Daniele Stagionato 24 Mesi (24-month-aged San Daniele prosciutto and burrata). The restaurant also maintains an extensive, meticulous wine list supervised by general manager and master sommelier, the handsome Simone.

So, set your sights on “the sweet life” of Italy without leaving Santa Monica. Uncover this hidden gem named for one the Eternal City’s most famous streets (which just happens to be where Federico Fellini was inspired to create his 1960 film La Dolce Vita). Bravo!

VIA VENETO

3009 MAIN STREET

SANTA MONICA, CA

310.399.1843

VIAVENETO.US

Architecture for the People

Stephen Francis Jones continues to help shape the South Bay restaurant scene with his hot-concept designs

Written by Constance Dunn | Photography Courtesy of SF Jones Architects

“I design social spaces,” says architect Stephen Francis Jones. “Spaces where people want to enjoy themselves and have fun.” Indeed, the architect has crafted spas, collaborative workspaces and eateries for a litany of high-profile chefs and restaurateurs, from Wolfgang Puck and Alain Giraud to Chris Simms and David LeFevre—the latter two names very familiar to Beach City diners.

Jones arrival at his position as one the preeminent restaurant architects of his day is a function of time, talent, and a keen understanding of how to design such venues for modern sensibilities—plus, knowing how they are markedly different from residential and other types of commercial ventures. “Restaurant spaces have a lot more artistic freedom,” says Jones. “A lot of the time the clients are looking for you to come up with something really cool and exciting.”

His career seems to be marked with just a bit of luck, too. From designing high-rises in Boston and working in Europe with prestige Barcelona firm Richardo Bofill to creating some of the hottest spots in L.A., Jones’ bio appears as a succession of doors opening, one after the other. To this, Jones, who was raised in Orlando in a working-class family of eight, led by a “hippie dad who was a silk-screen printer,” laughs and points out a piece of career wisdom: “It’s about positioning yourself to be in front of the right doors, so when they open, I can seize opportunities.” This he’s done.

Earlier in his career, while working as an in-house architect for Wolfgang Puck, Jones gained an intimate understanding of how restaurants function. Not just operationally—but dynamically, as communal, private/public spheres. His big break came with being charged with designing Spago Beverly Hills in the late-1990s upon its move from Sunset Boulevard. After that, it was off to the races, resulting in an L.A. portfolio filled with landmark venues, from a complete refresh of Century Plaza Hotel to the design of La Brea Bakery and the Hollywood restaurant-bar-bowling alley, Lucky Strike Lanes.

In the South Bay alone, Jones, who lives in Manhattan Beach (UCLA graduate school for architecture brought him West), has designed six restaurants for Simms’ Restaurant Group and chef David LeFevre—Simmzy’s, M.B. Post and Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar among them. Jones’ works, however, plus his creative mindset, are not just limited to eateries. “One of my focuses right now is really about the evolution of the workplace and the play place,” he explains. “Right now there’s a big, fuzzy line between work and play.” It’s a “fuzzy line” that Jones has been exploring with designs that facilitate the utmost levels of comfort, flexibility and stimulation—beyond the physical sense. Case in point is a project Jones recently completed in the Bay Area: an amenity space for a sprawling communal office campus that quickly sold out its tenancy.

When asked about the next big trends in restaurant design, Jones hints at shipping containers to house pop-up restaurants and features that play well with social media, like a selfie wall. But whether he’s designing a donut cafe in Osaka or the next big-hit eatery in the South Bay, a perennial remains: “I try to create a story that ties into the community,” says Jones, whose bike rides along the Strand inspired the story at M.B. Post. “I took photos of the lifeguard stands and volleyball posts.” Later, those visual signifiers made their way to the walls, underneath the bar and to other areas of the restaurant. Even some of the reclaimed wood used in the restaurant is the color of the local lifeguard stands, with their unique markings faithfully replicated on the planks. The communal table, for instance, bears the number four, Jones’ go-to location to play local beach volleyball. “I love that I have a client based in my hometown,” says the architect. “When I did M.B. Post I really took it personally in terms of wanting to make sure the design tied into the lifestyle of Manhattan Beach.”

SF JONES ARCHITECTS

4218 GLENCOE AVENUE, STUDIO 2

MARINA DEL REY, CA 90292

310.822.3822

SFJONES.COM

C’est La Vie

Le Petit Paris brings a true French brasserie dining experience to downtown L.A.’s historic core

Written by Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Le Petit Paris and Ryan Tanaka

Experience life in France without ever leaving the city via this glamorous, Parisian-inspired restaurant and brasserie that looks like it was plucked straight out of the City of Light. Opened in late 2015 by restaurateurs David and Fanny Rolland (the husband and wife owners of Miramar Plage on La Croisette and the original Le Petit Paris, both in Cannes), the classically elegant establishment immerses guests in an authentic French environment from the time they step foot into the expansive, two-level space—complete with opulent interiors, French-trained chefs, European wines and even a gift shop featuring imported artisanal goods.

Nestled within the historic El Dorado building—built in 1913 as the El Dorado Hotel, where Charlie Chaplin once lived—Le Petit Paris evokes French culture through its chic environs. Think a grand staircase, circular crystal chandeliers, gold-leaf columns, vibrant red carpeting, wood flooring, tufted banquettes, modern brasserie seats, vintage wingback chairs and hand-painted tiles, along with a cozy candle-filled fireplace, a massive mural of the Eiffel Tower and a glass-front wine wall. As for the menu, Executive Chef Baptiste Grellier (from the eatery’s outpost in Cannes) prepares upscale French fare using seasonal, market-fresh ingredients. Among the favorites are Risotta De Noix De St Jacques Asperges Et Truffe (scallop risotto with black truffle and green asparagus) and Linguine Au Homard Et Sa Crème De Homard (lobster linguine with artichokes, tomato confit and lobster cream).

Also on the lineup is a full accompaniment of European and Californian wines, along with signature cocktails crafted with house-made syrups and juices (like the Le Provençal featuring Bacardi rum, lavender, lime juice and egg white).

Complementing the beverage program are monthly wine dinners (with upcoming events set for March 23 and April 20); a Sunday brunch buffet (complete with crepes and a chocolate fondue fountain); live jazz on Wednesdays; and a resident French DJ spinning nightly. Meanwhile, the gift shop, La Boutique, is stocked with everything from fragrances and hand-crafted jewelry to macaroons, eclairs and foie gras made in-house daily.

“People should know that a trip to Le Petit is an experience that will make them feel as if they are visiting France,” says owner David Rolland. “We plan to continue offering an authentic French dining experience to both locals and visitors to Los Angeles in a beautiful setting.” Prepare for a moveable feast!

 

 

LE PETIT PARIS

418/420 SOUTH SPRING STREET

LOS ANGELES, CA 90013 | 213.217.4445

LEPETITPARISLA.COM

Sign of the Times

MessHall Kitchen presents an elevated reflection of L.A.’s comfort dining sensibilities

Written by Constance Dunn | Photography Courtesy of Paul Jonason and Courtesy of Messhall Kitchen

Though the legendary Brown Derby restaurant chain is long gone, the site of the Los Feliz branch still stands on the corner of Los Feliz Boulevard and Hillhurst Avenue, only now it’s home to MessHall Kitchen, a sunny eatery that reflects L.A. style and eating sensibilities just as keenly as the Derby did before it went the way of the flapper in 1960.

“It’s got a camp vibe to it,” says MessHall manager Anthony Ko, explaining how the restaurant, with its clean, welcoming lines and glossy wood (designed by Greg Bleier of Studio Unltd, responsible for Rose Cafe, Moruno and others), was configured as a place where people could mingle. “It was about bringing people together in a mess hall kind of environment.” Whether one sits at a fireside patio table or keeps to oneself at a private booth, the atmosphere at MessHall is cheerful and welcoming, and a scan around the dining room shows a guest range spanning from children and artsy young locals to mellow, mature couples.

The focus is on American classics that have been creatively reinvented under the lens of local, organic and seasonal. “The chef works with what he can source fresh from our purveyors,” says Ko. Which apparently is a lot. Menus are packed with items to satiate the entire kaleidoscope of the L.A. palate—from the most comforting of comfort foods to selections for vegan, gluten-free or allergy-prone diets.

Brunch is a current rage, and on weekends Angelenos queue up to dine on Huckleberry Pancakes iced with Key Lime cream cheese or MessHall’s famous Campfire Benny—eggs atop a pleasant mound of bacon planks and soft grit cakes, held together by a sultry smoked tomato bisque.

“We have our healthy options and our real brunch-y items,” says Ko. “The food you need on a Saturday or Sunday morning after a night out, but with our own spin on it.” Not to miss on such mornings are freshly squeezed concoctions like the Army Green Gale, an arsenal of antioxidant ingredients from green apples and spinach to ginger and mint.

Lunch and dinner menus are diverse—from Mead Braised Sausages served with toast points to fresh salmon served on a seasonal Okinawa-potato puree—though popular mainstays include the house chicken sandwich, where homemade buffalo sauce coats crisp, moist chicken (“You can’t go wrong with our buffalo sauce and blue cheese slaw,” notes Ko). This, and the Mess Burger made with slow onions and aged cheddar.

The Cobb Salad, said to have been created in the 1930s at the Brown Derby, is pleasantly reworked by Executive Chef Charbel Adaimy as a pliable, pan-friend chicken breast topped with the regulars—chopped iceberg, avocado, bacon, blue cheese and so forth—but with a pleasantly uniform distribution of flavor, and meat so moist it can be managed with a fork.

No matter the time of day, one can order a selection of oysters or a shrimp cocktail with strawberry cocktail sauce from the raw bar—another au courant L.A. fixture. All are fine accompaniments to Bar Director Austin Mendez’s dedicated cocktail list of classic-feeling originals, which includes favorites like Penicillin (scotch, lemon and honey, garnished with slabs of sugar-coated ginger). Hannibal’s Plan, a tequila-based cocktail with fresh watermelon juice that’s served with a rim of spiced salt, represents the spirit of the list: fresh juices and exotic spirits pleasantly and unexpectedly contrasted, often with a cheeky twist.

Visitor’s note: Though serious about ingredients and execution, MessHall’s weekly calendar is filled with fun, from T.V. dinners served in throwback trays on Monday to classic cocktails on Thursday and family barbecue packages on Sunday evening.

MESSHALL KITCHEN

4500 LOS FELIZ BOULEVARD LOS ANGELES, CA 90027

323.660.MESS | MESSHALLKITCHEN.COM

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