I am not one to judge a book by its cover, but I've been to enough eateries to notice that a restaurant's design and its food quality tend to have an inverted relationship. There are places that serve excellent food, but the decor leans towards minimalistically-elegant and then there are eateries that's just delicious eye candy all over, but tends to be iffy on service or actual food.
But after seeing initial positive reports from various blogs and media, I decided to cast my inner cynicism aside and check out the place.
The result? I've returned... five times... within a month.
Now I'm not about to say it's the best food I've ever tasted, but for me it does hit that sweet spot of great service, wonderful decor, reasonable pricing and, most importantly, decent dishes. The fare leans towards simple-but-fresh, with a nod towards French and Mediterranean cuisines that's effortlessly sophisticated and letting the individual ingredients truly shine with very little fuss.
Most of everything I've had thus far have been solid, but here are a few highlight items that's worth ordering over and over again (and my friends and I have!)
Hibiscus mimosa ($11) - a little tart, a little sweet and a lot of pretty; it's a beautiful spin off the traditional fizzy classic, bursting with floral and berry notes and slow, steady stream of bubbles that lasts throughout your brunch.
Lemon ricotta pancakes ($11) - I'm a definite sucker for ricotta pancakes, the cheese in the batter makes the end result fluffy-yet-chewy (al dente of pancakes) and I love the extra citrusy zing from the speckles of zest within. The accompanying blueberry-flavored maple syrups (not to mention the handful of fresh blueberries) and vibrant complements as well.
Fettucine Belmondo ($8) - a simple, satisfying dish with housemade pasta, arugula, garlic, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and parmigano reggiano. I love the firmer chew and snap of the fresh pasta, and this preparation really lets all the fresh flavors shine and blend beautifully with one another, from the nutty pungency of the sauteed garlic slivers to the bright arugula and tomatoes and sizable slices of the hard, almost-fruity aged cheese.
Black cod en papillote ($23) - a bit pricey for what it is, but it's a satisfying entree that's not too heavy. Moist, meaty pieces of cod are accompanied with a nicely steamed assortment of vegetables and served a lemony beurre blanc sauce on the side. Get this with the fettucine and it's a solid light meal for two.
Chocolate Souffle ($9) w vanilla bean creme anglaise - not too sweet (even with the sauce) and intense with deep, dark chocolate flavors while remaining light and moist in texture, this dessert is worth the 25-minute wait.
Of course, given how expansive their menu is -- there are still quite a number of dishes I've yet to explore. But it's good to know I've already got a few favorites I can fall back on.
700 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90017