Besha Rodell was quick on the draw for her Electric Owl review, a new West Hollywood restaurant from Ernesto Uchimura that opened on April 20. The former Umami corporate chef and longtime Plan Check chef opened his first solo project in the rather short-lived Gardner Junction in a railway-inspired building on the corner of Sunset and Gardner in Hollywood.
The initial word was pretty thin, with a mostly local crowd hitting the restaurant. B-Rod frames her review as a kind of new chapter for Uchimura, who’s mostly been known for making burgers:
But at Electric Owl, Uchimura takes a couple of baby steps away from that type of cleverness — dare I call it gimmickry? — toward cooking rooted in technique. In other words, there are no truffle oil burgers on the menu. In fact, there's no burger at all.
Rodell goes on to comment on some of the “gimmickry” on the plates:
Creamed bitter greens are bound together by a rich béchamel made with goat milk, which gives it a wonderful barnyard tang that pairs beautifully with the stridently vegetal greens. It's one of those ingredient switcheroos that's so simple but also seems revolutionary.
Not all of Uchimura’s more innovative approach works, however:
Smoked potato gnocchi with Dungeness crab, corn, brown butter and pink peppercorn reads like one of the menu's most reliable crowd pleasers but it falls flat in the bowl, the flavors and textures oddly unharmonious.
Still, it’s nice that Rodell put Uchimura’s intentions and accomplishments in perspective (he did, in fact, invent ketchup leather), and that sometimes a bit of culinary adventure results in mixed results. Electric Owl earns two stars out of five.