Jonathan Gold hits the year-old L.A. Chapter, brought to the Ace Hotel by Jud Mongell and Ken Addington, who also own Five Leaves in Brooklyn. The LA Times critic actually seems a bit more critical than usual with this crowded Downtown eatery:
The first time I visited L.A. Chapter, I did not enjoy the meal. There were dry, under-seasoned rabbit rillettes, and the house-made ricotta might have doubled as thyme-enhanced spackle. That grilled octopus had spent a lot of time on the grill. The kale salad with puréed anchovies tasted like the kind of thing a trainer at Sea World might have tossed her dolphins when she wanted them to get more roughage. The gem lettuce salad ended up being sweeter than the dessert. The stiff sea urchin pasta barely tasted of sea urchin. The empty dining room reeked of ketchup, stale beer and despair....
But L.A. Chapter is not best experienced when it is empty, and it is not often empty. I have come to appreciate the salmon, cooked sous-vide to an extreme-but-still-buttery rare, seared on a griddle and served with a garlicky beet purée. That charred octopus tentacle is actually pretty good when they get it right, and I really like the anise-scented rare duck breast with chewy spaetzle. [LAT]
Meanwhile, Besha Rodell doles three solid stars to Kris Yenbamroong's second production, Night + Market Song, which she likens to a great piece of pop art:
The artistry here is not about food manipulations, or plating-as-painting, or lofty, high-priced experiences. Quite the opposite. When it comes to his food, if anything chef-owner Kris Yenbamroong is an anthropologist and preservationist, hoarding and re-creating recipes from Thailand and making no moral distinctions between flavors he discovers on the streets in small villages and what he finds on strip-club buffets.
For the most part, this is food cooked with extreme thought and care, the flavors built deliberately and slowly, and almost every dish you get here will have one long, low bright note: the gift of slow-roasted ginger, or chilies seared before mashing, or the addition of pork fat to a catfish "tamale," giving it depth and savor. This food is not nonchalant in any way. [LAW]
The Elsewhere: Deep End Dining checks out the new cuisine at Firefly in Studio City, Gastronomy tries Alimento in Silver Lake, FoodGPS dives into the fried suckling pig at Pete's Los Angeles, KevinEats goes to Bigmista's in Long Beach, and The Offalo goes back to Guerilla Tacos.