Although he’s considered one of Mexico’s best chefs, when Diego Hernandez of Corazón de Tierra, opened his first American restaurant Verlaine in Los Angeles in March, the early word had been mostly mixed. In Besha Rodell’s review of the restaurant, she confirmed many of the complaints, citing “overcooked meats and one of the worst cocktails I've been served in recent memory: It tasted a lot like Robitussin” from her first visit in early June.
However, it isn’t all bad news for the eatery that took over the former Dominick’s space in West Hollywood, as the Weekly critic has found drastic improvement over the past month:
For proof, look no further than the unassuming, dark red, oily liquid that comes alongside the ceviche of the day. [...] It has a dark smokiness, the edge-of-burnt peanuts presenting a radical kind of nuttiness. It isn't particularly spicy — it's the complex tang of the chili that comes through rather than its heat — but it is deeply savory, beautifully balanced and insanely delicious. 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. Is it good on the ceviche? Sure. It would be good on just about anything. [LAW]
B. Rod does bemoan the terrible pacing, with “servers range wildly in ability and demeanor,” and a wine list that lacks a single Mexican bottle. However, with the wine and cocktail list under revamp and the exciting “ the newness of this food,” Verlaine survives the rather rocky review. The critic concludes:
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]
Verlaine manages to walk away with three stars.