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J. Gold on Superba; B-Rod on Alimento, Santa Martha

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The LA Times critic hits Venice's latest hotness while LA Weekly's Besha Rodell likes two young chef productions.

This week, Jonathan Gold visits Superba Food & Bread, discussing its many merits, from interior decor and average Venice crowd to the multi-faceted effort from Jason Travi, Lincoln Carson, John Eng, and Tyler Wells.

At lunch there is kaya toast, spread with a thick, sweet jam that tastes closer to coconut cake than to anything that might be called kaya in Singapore or Malaysia, and toast slathered with a porky version of the Italian head cheese called testa...The roast chicken is served with a sweet-savory stuffing made from scones and a bit of sage....

Superba Food + Bread is a simple place of seared char with snap peas and rotisserie-cooked lamb with sharp vadouvan curry; vaguely exoticized porchetta with North African spices and seared padron peppers with peanuts; and weekly specials that include pillow-soft lamb-neck "osso buco" on Tuesdays and crisp fried chicken on Sundays. It's the new generation of comfort food. I wouldn't swear to it, but I suspect there are some customers who basically live here.

In all, the Goldster is probably more than okay with this new style of comfort fare in Venice. [LAT]
[Photo by Elizabeth Daniels]

Meanwhile, Besha Rodell hits two small restaurants helmed by two young chefs who aren't afraid to change the rules. She doles out three stars to Alimento in Silver Lake, led by Zach Pollack (of Sotto), liking the fare but unsure about the environs:

It feels as if someone just walked into a small space and set up shop — which is, in fact, basically what happened. This is a neighborhood restaurant, the bare-bones, white-walled feel of it about as far from the handsome, dark moodiness of Sotto as you could imagine...And what of the food? Pollack veers from highly traditional dishes, such as a gorgeously decadent maccheroncini pasta with chicken livers and marsala, to playful takes on Americana, like his "pig in a blanket." A fat hunk of mortadella is sandwiched between two layers of flaky spelt pastry, then brightened up with three kinds of tang: pickled mustard seeds, Italian sauerkraut and a melty cow's milk cheese called stracchinata. It's puckery and piggy and marvelous. [LAW]


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At Koreatown's Saint Martha, with chef Nick Erven in the kitchen, Besha's also quite fond of the rather innovative cooking:

Erven's food is often theatrical — he makes Doritos out of seaweed and pairs them with avocado mousse. It's a riff on guac and chips, but then he adds sea urchin tataki and hearts of palm. Each chip rises from its own little composed pile of urchin and mousse, and each mouthful is a creamy umami bomb....Chicken liver mousse comes sitting in a pool of hazelnut praline, and the whole dish walks a fine line between savory and sweet, a little bit Nutella, a little bit ... well, pulverized liver. It shouldn't work but it does, the decadence of the endeavor somehow trumping its oddity. [LAW]

Three stars for the wine-centric Saint Martha.

The Elsewhere: Darin Dines feels a little mixed about Pine & Crane, FoodGPS does Hong Galbi in Koreatown, estarLA tries the new Momed in Atwater Village, The Offalo goes to one of b.o.s.' last dinners, Unemployed Eater recommends The Church Key, and GastronomyBlog hits Union in Pasadena.
· All Week in Reviews Coverage [~ELA~]

Sotto

9575 Pico Boulevard, , CA 90035 (310) 277-0210 Visit Website

Alimento

1710 Silver Lake Boulevard, , CA 90026 (323) 928-2888 Visit Website

Superba Food + Bread

1900 S Lincoln Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90291