This week in openings: Old Places in New Spaces, Plus Some New Faces: Barbrix, La Grande Orange, Bottle Rock
As the week draws to a close and weekend plans start to coalesce, here are some spankin' new restaurants where the paint is barely dry, the dishes have been used only a few times, the stainless kitchen equipment still lustrous, and the wood varnish fresh.
Barbrix is already in good company in its neighborhood. With friends like Silver Lake Wine, and compatible and/or new restaurants such as Blair's, Domenico's, and Reservoir covering the 90026 - 90039 ground, Barbrix continues the area's transformation that people have been both talking and grumbling about for years now. And the design by Ana Henton helps it fit into the area's of-the-moment aesthetic inclinations.
So far, diners who have actually been to Barbrix and sampled the market-driven small-plates menu and extremely fairly priced wine list aren't complaining. The early tweets and online chatter can be summed up as "so far so good." Or rather, so far so terrific. The people steering this ship are feeling all right, too.
"A lot of people are interested in the restaurant and we've had great turnouts," co-owner and L.A. restaurant veteran Claudio Blotta told Squid Ink on Wednesday afternoon. "The food has been coming out on time, and chef Don Dickman is doing a great job. In three days we've changed the menu everyday to keep it fresh and interesting." Those are words any restaurateur hopes to be able to say after two-plus years of planning.
With regards to the aforementioned possible competition, Blotta isn't fazed by the number of possible competitors; quite the contrary, in fact. "The more the merrier," he says. Yet given that Pasadena gastropub and beer emporium Brix 42 hung its shingle not long ago, too, we imagine that fewer is better when it comes to restaurants with potentially confusing similar names.
2442 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake, (323) 662-2442 or www.barbrix.com.
Not all of this week's openings are about starting with a completely clean slate -- two involve already known quantities. While technically an import, La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena is already inextricably tied to its historic setting at the former Santa Fe Station. Its Santa Monica expansion takes advantage of local Westside amenities, with the best farmers' market so close by, a community-minded populace that likes its pedestrian and public life, a kitchen that's apparently attuned to these nuances, plus some of the best design talent around (Marshall & Agriam Studio and the perpetually in-demand Marmol Radziner & Associates). The restaurant's long daily hours starting at 6:30 a.m. give Santa Monica/Venice customers plenty of time to decide if LGO Santa Monica is doing it right.
La Grande Orange Santa Monica
2000 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 396-9145 or www.lagrandeorangesm.com.
BottleRock is literally switching directions with LGO, since owners Fred and Isaac Hakim are shipping their Culver City outfit eastward to a Downtown spot that opens on Friday, May 15 in the Metropolitan Lofts building. (Don't worry -- the original one will remain.) Ernie Roth of Roth Interiors planned the 4,000 square-foot interior to double the seating capacity of the Culver City tasting and dining room, accommodate a four-figure wine list (that refers to the selections, not prices) and a dozen-plus microbrews poured on tap, and showcase an open kitchen for Executive Chef Jared Levy (Providence, Blue Velvet) to prepare his menu of nibbles and more fleshed-out seasonal dishes. BottleRock already has desirable companions and architectural street cred on its side. (Met Lofts happens to be this writer's personal favorite of the nabe's latest generation of residential construction.) Ideally these combined factors will help import something from Culver City to Downtown that's more elusive than any established restaurant brand: some of that cohesive and lively eating, drinking and social mojo.
1050 S. Flower St., Downtown, (213) 747-1100 or www.bottlerock.net.