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Jonathan Gold Thinks Michael Voltaggio’s New Ink.Well Is More User-Friendly

A pretty lukewarm review

ink.well Michael Voltaggio
Wonho Frank Lee

This week, Jonathan Gold reviews Ink.well, Michael Voltaggio’s reimagined rendition of his now shuttered restaurant Ink. In attempting to explain the reason for the closure, the Goldster hypothesizes, “possibly through his glowering ubiquity on “Top Chef” and the success of the casino steakhouse he runs with his brother, he became something close to a populist chef — not changing his cooking much at all, but with preparations loved less for their innovation than for their deliciousness.”

So Ink.well was born, with a “larger, brighter, more open” space where “the soundtrack leans towards the dance club, and the bar dominates the front dining room.” The Times critic explains the difference between the restaurants as “mostly within context, the familiarly unfamiliar served in a user-friendly, date-night setting instead of a darkened cave.” Still the dishes are anything but ordinary:

You can marvel at the marinated shrimp under a blizzard of fresh dill — Voltaggio likes putting things under other things — but scooped up with shrimp chips flavored with Old Bay, the taste is of a harborside Baltimore snack. A salad of stalky endive spears concealed under pickled sliced pear and Pacojet-frozen feta cheese — it looks like vegetables but slices and tastes kind of like pizza. [LAT]

Unfortunately, J. Gold goes on to list quite a few misses:

Not everyone likes Voltaggio’s cooking, and it is easy to see why. The nori-infused rigatoni with warm Dungeness crab has stung with salt every time I’ve tried it; I imagine he likes it that way. If you’ve had the Mexican street corn preparations at places like Salazar (or the street!), you would be justified in judging Voltaggio’s sludgy version as over-complex, and the banana-scented grits that come with the braised pork cheeks are just weird. [LAT]

Ultimately it seems like a rather tempered review for the La Cienega restaurant, with the critic coming to the vague conclusion, “Can “there-ness’’ make sense in a different “there’’? It already does.”


826 North La Cienega Boulevard, , CA 90069 (310) 358-9058 Visit Website