This week, Jonathan Gold reviews chef Brendan Collins' follow-up to his late gastropub Waterloo & City, Birch. Although the contemporary Hollywood restaurant shows a shift towards modern cuisine, Collins "is at his heart a big meat guy" whose strengths are best exhibited "when he lets his inner butcher come out to play:"
So while you may want to skip the squash blossoms stuffed with a stodgy forcemeat of rice and served under a disk of toasted Parmesan thick enough to stop bullets, you will do well with his sweetbreads, seared until they are nearly caramelized but still soft, served in a bowl with potato gnocchi and cauliflower florets — a small, elegant essay in textural interplay, even if the kitchen is a little overexuberant with the truffle oil. The soft-shell crab may have spent too much time in the fryer, but the hunk of lamb belly with snap peas is strong-tasting but luscious, long-braised and crisped on the grill. Everybody else in town may be doing chicken liver mousse at the moment, but his is a good one — almost liquid, enriched with a little foie gras, glazed with fruit jelly and served with slabs of grilled bread. [LAT]