This week, Jonathan Gold reviews Destroyer, chef Jordan Kahn’s new restaurant in Hayden Tract. Kahn, the former Red Medicine chef, has created a sort of neo-coffee shop that is a little stark, to say the least. Here are the best lines from J. Gold’s review:
A quick caveat to start
Before I get on to the business of reviewing Destroyer, let me say that you’re going to hate this restaurant. Really, you are.
For good reason
You are not going to find parking within a quarter-mile of the restaurant, which is in the Hayden Tract quadrant of Culver City; when you think you have outsmarted the system, anger will boil up within you when a food-truck operator shoos you out of your spot. You are going to walk by every Web company that ever crashed your browser, plus what looks like the world headquarters of Movember.
But it gets more obnoxious
Are the floors poured concrete? Do preserving jars feature in the room’s décor? Is the ambient thrum from an Icelandic post-rock ensemble best known for its work with Sigur Rós? Are the chefs’ aprons fashioned from dead-stock selvage? Are the ceramics black and hand-thrown? If you are the kind of person who has figured out that the rectangle of chipboard on the table is a sculpture and that "concord grape, warm potato, frozen cream" is dessert, you already know.
Kahn is a master of the Danish style
In a world populated by chefs influenced by the vegetable-powered abstraction of Rene Redzepi at Noma, Kahn came even closer than most chefs in Copenhagen – not just in the use of sea buckthorn, wood sorrel and intensely flavored ices, but in the fluidity of his compositions, his love of foliage, his unconventional plating, and his jolts of acidity, strong herbs and burnt ash.
The dishes are "abstract" but make sense
Eventually, you begin to understand the grammar of the plates, the specific succession of leaves, vegetables, crunch and rich semi-fluids that lies at the heart of Kahn’s cuisine: pea tendrils, tart gooseberries, almond curd, English peas and seeds; or a balustrade of fried Tuscan kale leaves surrounding a baseball-size construction of creamy things, crunchy things and, at the bottom, eggplant. [...] The baby lettuces may resemble the $34.99 Dish Garden from 1-800-FLOWERS, but it has crunchy pistachios and soft fresh cheese at its core.
But still, it is a little surprising to see him in an industrial-park canteen, closed evenings and weekends, serving some of the most intricate, detailed dishes in Los Angeles, fashioned from great farmers market ingredients, at about the price of a takeout salad from Sweetgreen. As our brothers and sisters in Silicon Valley are fond of saying, it is all about disruption.