For his first review of the year, Jonathan Gold visits Viviane, restaurateur Stephane Bombet's new venture with executive chef Michael Hung, formerly of Faith & Flower. At Viviane, Hung offers decidedly French fare that differs from that of his previous restaurant:
At its best, Hung's cooking [at Faith & Flower] had a technique-intensive pan-Asian edge that may have reminded you of Roy Choi or Bryant Ng. But with the exception of an occasional fermented turnip or bit of Buddha's hand zest, Hung's cuisine at Viviane is more or less classically French — he cooked for years at La Folie in San Francisco under Roland Passot — and his palette here tends toward brown butter instead of kimchi emulsions, crunchy fried breadcrumbs instead of roasted cashews, and minced parsley instead of jolts of cumin. [LAT]
As such, the Times critic describes the cuisine had in the rather stylish Midcentury Modern space as "clean" and with softness " pretty much essential to the aesthetic:"
So the linguine with clams is neither garlicky in the Italian style nor sharp like most Japanese-fusion revisions, but kind of mellow: ribbons of soft, handmade pasta tossed with clams, translucent slices of geoduck, and a few drops of what tastes like beurre blanc. Ravioli are stuffed with soft ricotta and sauced with brown butter and a spoonful of buttery chanterelle ragout. There is a soft-cooked duck egg on a bed of soft caramelized endive; a soft, lightly crisped slab of pork belly with fermented Brussels sprouts; and roast chicken with soft dumplings. [LAT]
Viviane walks away sounding like a solid restaurant to enjoy an easygoing meal.
The Elsewhere: Patric Kuh selects LA's best Chinese restaurants, Viviane makes the cut for Jessica Koslow's list of best hotel brunches, and kevinEats has a much better dinner at Otium than did Darin Dines.