710 West First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Are we in Vegas, Hollywood circa 1940, or Havana? Nope, it’s finally L.A. that blends together style and great food. From the moment we cross the threshold we are transported to a time gone by, an era of smooth-as-silk jazz sounds set to a cool blue glow of hidden lights bathing the restaurant in transforming hues.

A gorgeous German chandelier in the entry greets us along with the hostess, Anna, a hot number that crosses Marilyn Monroe with Cindy Lauper, squeezed into a sexy blue gown.
The simply clothed tables are adorned with art deco cutlery, a spray of cymbidiums, accompanied by smartly tailored chairs. We chose one of their many imaginative and exceptional cocktails, crafted by mixologist Aidan Demarest. Each is hand crafted from scratch and made with locally sourced fruits and is completely fresh.
Our handsome waiter, Johnny, arrives in a dapper outfit created by “Madman’s” costume designer, Alison Leach, and before we know it, a delicious amuse bouche arrives as well. The dishes are inventively divided into categories of small, medium, large and extra-large items, so you can pick according to your desires. With so many fabulous choices, we sampled a wide array, and paired our choices with wine “tastes” each 1 oz, thus sampling their fabulous selection without setting off our Breathalyzer for the drive home.
Scott started with the crabmeat potpie, a crab gratin topped with buttery French toast ($13). The crab was so delicate and flakey that it melted in our mouths, while the small French toast top provided a perfect backdrop.
Michael enjoyed the BBQ fried oysters, including bacon, BBQ sauce and celery bleu cheese tapenade ($11). The flavors turned a standard dish into a new invention. The Swedish meatballs were handmade accompanied by dill cream with pickled baby beets ($11), and they were spicy and tastily well seasoned.
Then there was the Popcorn-shrimp and grits, sporting Santa Barbara spot prawns with Tasso ham, popped corn cream sauce and the best out of this world creamy grits this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
Even the Backyard Garden Salad delivered a gorgeous presentation of locally sourced organic herbs and fresh veggies, including a medley of carrots, string beans and broccoli, served with a superb take on Green Goddess dressing ($13).

With so many interesting choices for our entrees, we settled on two. The first, “Duck-Duck-Goose”, was a bursting flavorful take on duck comprising a sugar and spice seared duck breast, duck leg confit, roasted foie gras, spring onion hoecake and baby mustard green ($28). Although we found the duck breast to be under-cooked and chewy, the flavor was extraordinary. The roasted foie gras, proved to be one of the best interpretations we’ve ever had. The “Moonshine Meatloaf” was ground chuck, foie gras and gin meatloaf, wrapped in savory black bacon, and served with potato and pearl onion hash, brown butter green bean bundles and caramelized tomato marmalade ($27). The presentation was unusual and the string beans were so fresh they were probably just picked. Although the potatoes were too salty, the course was so satisfying that it was a definite repeat.
Dessert is a must if you want a throw back to childhood. We loved the “Seven Deadly Valrhona Chocolate Sins” (and how could you not order something with a name like that?), which consisted of chocolate pudding, chocolate Rice Krispies, warm chocolate chip Blondie, chocolate Vodka Tonic ice cream, chocolate shortbread, tootsie rolls…and if that’s not enough, chocolate kisses. You can’t get more deadly than that, and although we thought the ice cream was too icy and not as creamy as it should have been, the conglomeration of chocolate sins provoked us to the 8th sin: thou shall not lick the plate clean. By the time we were done, we needed a tractor to take us home.

Terry Brewer and Parker Martin are partners in this restaurant, and general manager, Steve Springer, operates it. The chef de cuisine, Jenny Seldon, has created a fabulous product, which gives us two great reasons to come and support their triumphant new presence in downtown Los Angeles. In fact, we came back the following week to enjoy their first night of live performance and dinner in their clubby Fedora Room.  It was a fun-filled evening of a dozen or so Broadway singers crooning while we dined.  The producer and Master of Ceremonies is the adorable and talented Mark Shunock .  It was such a fun alternative from "should we see a movie tonight" and we can't wait to return.  We "First and Hope" to see you there too.

Is it possible that this beyond-fabulous dish is only $5? Pair this with a bottle of wine, and that alone is a good enough reason to come here. This is not Mama’s old mac & cheese. It’s an amazing presentation of three different tubs containing interpretations on this old favorite: cheddar, aged goat and triple cream with Brie. All three are served on a slate slab with garnishes of the cheeses used in the tubs, as well as mustard, nuts and off all things, popcorn. One was better than the next, but the standout was the triple cream and Brie. It was so rich, creamy and flavorful that our taste buds went into overdrive.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 5:55 PM | , , , , | 2 comments »

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  1. F // July 6, 2010 at 8:37 AM  

    Michael & Scott --

    Did you guys realize that the theme is inspired by the show Mad Men? It's a fantastic place.

  2. Anonymous // February 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM  

    The good work in the kitchen is undone by the poor management at the front of the house. Very poor service. Very chancy if you're trying to make it to a performance at the Music Center.

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