Twelve years ago, chef Christophe Émé landed one of LA’s few Michelin stars for his restaurant Ortolan. The accomplished Frenchman, who cooked at a multitude of European fine dining institutions before landing at the famed L’Orangerie on La Cienega, went on to open Ortolan in 2005 (it closed in 2011). Tomorrow he opens Kass, a charming little wine bar and restaurant on La Brea Avenue.
After years of cooking privately around town, Émé is back serving the kind of food he loves: innovative wine-friendly food with classic techniques and a heavy dose of seasonality. The 40-seat restaurant took nearly a year to transform into a blue-hued dining room boasting a semi-open kitchen and a long wine bar to the right. In addition, a small lounge sits out front for any waiting guests.
The menu starts with cheese, oysters, and charcuterie, before venturing to plates like a baby beet salad with black lentils and aged Comté. An oxtail parmentier comes perfumed with Burgundy truffles while chicken cooked in clay gets laced with wild mushroom sauce and green asparagus. Farro risotto has the ideal rib-sticking comfort during winter, with celery root, morels, and kale to mix in both California freshness with French earthiness. Most of the wines hail from France, and especially Émé’s homeland of Loire Valley.
In a time when so many restaurants are blending international flavors, it’s almost refreshing to see Émé’s commitment to classic French dishes in a modern, but not too buttoned-up, setting. Kyley Jacoby will be the sommelier and manager while Taylor Parsons, who was previously at Republique and has been consulting at Manufactory, helped create the initial wine list.
Kass opens tomorrow with service from 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, until 11:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and until 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Update: the original story reported that January 31 would be the opening night, but the restaurant has notified Eater that Kass will instead open on February 1.
Kass Wine Bar and Restaurant. 320 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, California 90036. (323) 413-2299