After being spotted at Kettle Black on opening night, Jonathan Gold finally drops his review on the new Italian restaurant on Beau Laughlin block, that is the stretch of Sunset that includes Sawyer, Clover, and now Kettle Black. The restaurant is helmed by the mustachioed chef Sydney Hunter III, who previously ran the kitchen of Petit Trois alongside Ludo Lefebvre before a relatively brief stint at Superba Snack Bar.
J. Gold describes Kettle Black as a "mildly transgressive" restaurant with a bar that could be a "stop at on the way to another bar, splitting a bottle of Friulian pinot grigio and a tricolore salad before you wind up at the club." The cooking is "eccentric, hewing to no particular regional cuisine and slightly edgy in its way, favoring a sweet-sour flavor palette, lots of crunch and chiles used as much for fragrance as they are for heat." That translates to lots of beautiful wood-fired dishes like the crunchy-skinned chicken, lemon-caper branzino, and eggplant:
The best dish here may be the fat purple slices of Japanese eggplant passed through the fire just long enough to add a bit of smokiness. The eggplant is drizzled with a bit of oil and a few drops of the wine syrup called saba. The skin is fragile and crisp; the flesh soft and luscious. His cauliflower is blackened in the oven and dressed with pine nuts, plumped raisins and puréed anchovies — vaguely Sicilian? [LAT]
Of course, the pastas are a fan favorite:
But the kitchen is better at fresh pasta than you may have any right to expect at a restaurant like this, making garganelli with a meaty, long-simmered Bolognese, pappardelle with sautéed maitake mushrooms and little zucchini-filled agnolotti that are genuinely tender, with the proper bite. The cheese-saturated cacio e pepe pasta is good too. [LAT]
Ultimately, Kettle Black sounds like a wonderful small-plates restaurant with crave-worthy Italian fare.