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After a Rocky Start, Modern Mexican Spot Verlaine Seems to Have Settled In

The pros and cons for Diego Hernández’s West Hollywood restaurant

Wonho Frank Lee
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Its time for the Good News/Bad News at Verlaine, the modern and high-end Mexican restaurant on Beverly Boulevard that opened in March. LA transplants and restauranteurs Matthew Hechter and Christopher Brandon own the place and recruited Mexican chef Diego Hernández, whose restaurant Corazón de Tierra in Baja's Valle de Guadalupe prepares innovative Modern Mexican cuisine.

LAWeekly’s Besha Rodell reviewed Verlaine in July, and cited a few blunders mixed with hopefulness. In response, the restaurant issued a lengthy Instagram apology. Here’s a summary of what other critics around town have to say.

There’s clear skill in the kitchen

“It's also precise and deliberate, the work of a chef who knows how to tease out specific and delicate aspects of ingredients and have them work in a union so harmonious it seems predestined.” [LAW]

Balanced and unique flavors

“The ceviche itself, generally made with Hiramasa yellowtail, is vibrantly fresh and lightly flavored with cilantro and lime. It comes with house-made tostadas on the side, and two ramekins, one with mayonnaise and one with that red stuff, a ‘matcha’ sauce made from fried guajillo chilies and scorched peanuts.” [LAW]

“The silkiness of that same Hiramasa yellowtail is heightened when served raw and layered over lush mayonnaise atop a tostada, its flavor enhanced by the slight perfume of cilantro flowers and ginger..” [LAW]

A brunch marriage between Mexico and America

“Hernandez’s menu reads like a classic American brunch, but with a Mexican slant. In addition to French toast, pancakes and yes, avocado toast, there’s eggs with rajas (poblano chile); a smoked fish quesadilla; and an eggs Benedict sope.” [LAT]

Months after opening, marked improvements on the drink menu

“The old fashioned with Apple Brandy and Martini were excellent. Tried a few of the Baja wines everyone raves about - but were not on the menu previously.” [Food Talk Central]

The service needs a boost

“It's hard to get a meal paced properly, especially if you order a lot of smaller plates rather than one appetizer and one entrée. One night, when a server tried to deliver all at once six of the eight plates we'd ordered, we begged for mercy and a slowing of the flow.” [LAW]

The adjacent bar, and inviting attitude

“I was led to the new bar/lounge (Wild Beast) they opened on the same property. Just the right mix of booze, interior design and masculinity, with a hint of starlet in the air. I was welcomed right away by the lively and kind bar manager who called out for Chef Diego to greet us.” [Open Table]

An exciting food experience for LA

“If you are excited at the prospect of our city's modern Mexican offerings getting more diverse and expansive and impressive, then you're in luck. Because although Verlaine still has its flaws, at his best Hernández delivers some of the most thrilling food I've eaten in L.A. this year.” [LAW]

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