Jonathan Gold discusses Minh Pham and Sarah Lange's Porridge and Puffs, the night time congee concept that takes over Field Trip after the sun goes down. Overall, it's very kind words for the young chef, who helped open Gaji this year and brings a farmers market mentality to something as simple as porridge:
Dinner at Phan's restaurant, designed to flatter the produce of the farmers market, also tends to start with vegetables, perhaps shredded cabbage zapped with the Vietnamese herb rau ram; sautéed dandelion greens jolted with salt and chile, strewn with strands of bright-yellow onions pickled with turmeric; or slivered candy-stripe beets with snips of lemon basil, toasted sesame oil and pungent pickled green peppercorns still on their branch.
Besha Rodell gives four stars to Chi Spacca, in a near-world class rating that goes to Chad Colby and Nancy Silverton's meat-centric restaurant in the Mozzaplex:
Colby is still serving all that fantastic charcuterie that he presented during his salumi nights, but he has broadened the menu to include other meaty treasures. There are echoes of his fan-favorite whole-hog dinners in the milk-roasted pork loin with sage, the dish that traditionally ended the savory portion of those meals.
But other, new dishes have gained cultlike status, such as a hulking beef and bone marrow pie, from the center of which a giant marrow bone protrudes. You break open the pie, its thick crust rich with butter, and watch the dark beef in gravy with mushrooms pool on the plate. Scoop some marrow from the bone and smear it on top - rich on rich on rich.
Rodell also lists the ten best new restaurants to open this past year, which includes Maude, POT, Night + Market Song, and Petit Trois. On the chart topping Maude from Curtis Stone, Rodell writes:
A monthly ingredient of honor might become burdensome and repetitive in a lesser chef's hands, but Stone is a man who understands balance. Throughout the meal, the flavor of the month is amplified and then subdued, in places used as the main attraction and in others as a subtle garnish.
The Elsewhere: FoodGPS lists the best restaurants in Santa Barbara, Gastronomyblog digs the baby clam pizza at Mother Dough, Gourmet Pigs goes to Bowery Bungalow in Silver Lake, Daily Dish gives an early take of Terrine, Midtown Lunch lists 10 great pad thais in LA on DineLA, and The Offalo heads south to Torihei in Torrance.