Jonathan Gold winds down 2015 with a review of the much buzzed about Ledlow. Josef Centeno's reimagining of the Downtown staple Pete's into Centeno's version of Pete's, then renamed as Ledlow Swan, then again as simply Ledlow, was controversial for regulars of the neighborhood restaurant. Overall, Gold appreciates the intensely American cuisine that ultimately maintains its grip on the evolution of Downtown LA:
Pete's was a place you stopped into for a burger and a plate of blue cheese fries at 2 in the morning after a show. Centeno's Pete's was a place where the chalkboard menu listed things like beef tongue salad and caramelized sunchoke remoulade, and the size of the steak went down from 32 ounces to 4. At the old Pete's, you could have a Michelob with your short-ribs instead of a bottle of Dieu du Ciel peppercorn rye. Pete's wasn't quite a dive - it had pancetta-wrapped scallops and pappardelle with lamb - but it was a neighborhood restaurant, a place you could show up to in a worn hoodie and paint-spattered shoes.
But really, Ledlow is still a neighborhood restaurant, although a restaurant for a very different neighborhood. I noticed after the fourth time I had been in that I tended to start every meal with a plate of raw and grilled seasonal vegetables and a brandy old-fashioned, as if I were dining in the one restaurant in a small Wisconsin town.
The Elsewhere: FoodGPS recounts his top San Diego meals of 2014, GastronomyBlog eats classic diner fare at House of Pies, The Glutster runs down the top tamales in LA, and Daily Dish heads to Butchers & Barbers.