This week, Besha Rodell drops the word on Birch, the follow-up to Brendan Collins' Waterloo & City, which Rodell finds to be "less derivative, more personal and vastly more inventive" than the now-shuttered gastropub. The modern space in Hollywood capitalizes on current trends and gimmicks much to its advantage:
A gimmick that's not as familiar is a rabbit baklava, a dish with a name that makes it practically impossible to resist ordering. Baklava is perhaps a bit of a stretch; this is cured, confit rabbit meat wrapped in phylo pastry. It's more of a rabbit pie, in the same way that spanikopita is spinach pie. But the sweetness of dates and the subtle crunch of pistachio does hint at the dessert that inspires the dish, and the teeny tiny rack of rabbit ribs as garnish will make the right kind of diner — those who don't mind thinking of the bunny as they eat him — smile. The winks and cleverness of the dish aside, the important part is that it tastes fantastic: hearty, meaty and wholly original. [LAW]
However, not all the "theatrical elements" work so well, particularly with Birch's desserts, which are pretty but taste "frantic:"
You can see Collins' sensibility in these desserts, but that only strengthens the argument that even the best cooks really do need someone else in charge of pastry, in this case someone who might pare back, simplify and distill the ideas of the chef. [LAW]
Ultimately the LA Weekly critic feels Birch is "right this minute," and gives it a solid three stars.
The Elsewhere: Eating L.A. revisits the redecorated Carousel for some of the city's best Middle Eastern fare, Street Gourmet LA gives his pick for weekend eats, and The Offalo enjoys a meal at the ever-changing Superba Food + Bread.