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Eric Klein back on the LA scene?

Apologies for the slow start today, but Eater LA's intrepid editor is in Las Vegas for a few days. But even from the City of Sin, we come bearing gifts…

Dining at Fix at the Bellagio last night, one of LA's former rising star chefs, Eric Klein, made a cameo in the dining room. We recognized him from his Maple Drive days. Last we heard, he was at the Wynn; but looking at the website a few months ago, we noticed his face wasn't in the chef lineup on the dining page. Apparently, now he's exec chef at Fix. We chatted about his leaving Maple Drive (personal issues) and where the restaurant is now (closed, with rumors of the Patina Group buying it). We also discussed his imminent return to LA; not sure when, but he wants back in the circle.

All in all, the food was good at Fix, but the menu seems to be, er, fixed, and not the showcase for a talented chef like Klein. He sounds ready to have his own place and ruefully admitted he once had an eye on Culver City, which only recently exploded with restaurants and wine bars. Maybe one day, Eric. Actually, it could come full circle: That thing about the Patina Group buying Maple Drive? Yeah, well we heard that fell through, too, so it might be back on the market.

A memory refresher: Klein went through the ranks at Rockenwagner, Chinois and Spago, where he eventually became sous chef. In 2004, he took the exec chef position at Maple Drive and earned three stars by the LA Times and a Best New Chef title from Food & Wine. Then all of a sudden, he was gone, heading for greener—well, dry desert—pastures at the Wynn Resort, where he became the opening chef for the SW Steakhouse. But that fell through, too: He left the Wynn within the first year, and now he's working for the Light Group, which also owns a couple hot nightclubs in Vegas (Light, Jet) and restaurants (Fix, Stack).
· Maple Drive and Schatzi changing ownerships [Chowhound]
· Flavors of Alsace [LA Times]

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