The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2012

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Page 121 of 152

RESTAURANTS THAT MATTER B PHOTO: ERICA BARTEL ack in the ���80s, Los Angeles was full of Restaurants That Mattered���high-proile destinations like Ma Maison, Spago, Trumps, La Toque, Michael���s. Look at the menus from that period, and they seem almost . . . quaint. Compared with the current wave of gastromolecular cooking, bistronomy, gastropubdom and the like, they were almost fussy. (Okay, not Spago, which was based on good pizza in the land of the cardboard pie. But still . . .) But they did change the trajectory of how we ate, turning Chasen���s, Scandia and Perino���s into relics of a near-forgotten past. And then, the kitchen creativity of Los Angeles slowed. Restaurants became repetitive��� carbon copies of carbon copies. But a return to edginess was inevitable; it���s ingrained in L.A.���s DNA. And so, in recent times, there���s been a rebirth of Restaurants That Matter. They���re fun to go to. And the food and drink are, without The patio at Superba. exception, wonders. They certainly are at Superba Snack Bar, on one of the grooviest blocks in ultragroovy Venice, where wine-aicionado Chef Jason Neroni has created a Venetian (Californian) neo-Italian cooking built around lots of smoked meats, and pastas with names like cesarecce and crested macaroni, consumed at long tables by diners who may arrive on skateboards. Dining is inside and out. And there���s a planned lunch menu of banh mi, bocadillos, Korean-style fried chicken with kimchee ketchup and a pig���s head pastrami sandwich with black garlic mayo. This is Venice. There are no borders. At MB Post���a Manhattan Beach destination in the well-tanned South Bay���the style is gastropub in excelsis, with reformed high-end Chef David LeFevre going native with dishes like bacon-cheddar buttermilk biscuits, steamed mussels with Vietnamese sausage, grilled lambs tongue salad and chicken pot pie. Half the restaurant is reserved for walk-ins, who sit at long tables. Board shorts and lip-lops abound. It���s how L.A. rolls. MB Post General Manager/Beverage Director Jerry Garbus offers a wine list that he says ���mimics the worldwide eclectic cuisine.��� International wines from smaller producers dominate the selections. ���Buzzwords such as soulful, artisanal and handcrafted���what goes together grows together���is our format for our spirits program.��� The combination is an adventurous experience. It���s how L.A. rolls at MessHall in Los Feliz as well, just down from Grifith Park, where Chef Keith Silverton has taken the old Brown Derby and turned it into a casual neighborhood hang with a dazzling mixology program. It���s how L.A. rolls at The Pikey in Hollywood, where Chef Ralph Johnson has gone from New York���s incredibly trendy Spotted Pig���to a re-envisioned British pub. Both casual, both wine- and beerand spirits-intensive . . . and both delicious. Sometimes, breathlessly so. It���s how Los Angeles rolls���and it���s how the rest of America will eat���as soon as they catch up. december 2012 / the tasting panel / 121

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