It’s a busy day for Week In Reviews, where Los Angeles gets three reviews from two publications. TimeOut LA’s reviewer Simon Majumdar inspected chef Joshua Skenes’s Angler, and Los Angeles Times co-reviewers took on distinctly neighborhood staples. Bill Addison peeked inside All Time in Los Feliz, while Patricia Escárcega ventured to Boyle Heights to visit Milpa Grille.
TimeOut’s Simon Majumdar had a bit of trouble locating Angler, but that’s a common complaint for pretty much any business at the Beverly Center. Majumdar’s five-star review stems from Angler’s “impeccable” service and indulgence upon receipt of his first dish:
“And it was certainly helped by our first dish, a tableside presentation of a now-iconic, L.A.-only banana pancake topped with a roasted–banana-peel butter and Ossetra Caviar ($69 per ounce). The sweetness of the pancake, the nutty roast flavor of the peel butter and the saltiness of the Ossetra aren’t an obvious combination, but they worked to produce a bite that immediately suggested this was going to be one of the more thrilling L.A. meals I’ve enjoyed in 2019. In fact, over two visits we ate so many dishes and were disappointed with very little.”
Majumdar describes Skenes’ approach to cooking as “deliberate,” where “kitchen staff takes a very small number of absolutely top-notch ingredients and use their skills and various fire sources to complement rather than overburden the dishes.”
Though Majumdar was disappointed by the self-described seafood restaurant’s raw bar, he preferred Skenes use of fire roasting vegetables, the little neck clams, and $16 sweet chicory caesar salad. Overall, it was a supremely wonderful experience:
“Skenes and his team at Angler should be congratulated on getting up to full throttle so quickly in a new city. I’m certain that Los Angeles, with its vibrant and often intense dining scene, will be an inspiration for him and his kitchen.”
At the Los Feliz restaurant All Time, LA Times co-critic Addison experienced his first earthquake while dining there on July 4. He describes the shaky incident, and noted the typical LA response of returning to normal as soon as the movement stops. It’s a fun ride, but par for the course in this part of the world, just like spotting celebrities dining out:
“It’s impossible to distill a restaurant’s entire customer base, sure, but the entertainment industry types are easy to spot here. Mornings at All Time find souls with furrowed brows staring at scripts on their laptops, taking absent-minded bites of cheesy eggs on toast. Scan the crowd at dinner and you’ll likely see a couple of A-list actors seated in the furthest, dimmest corners. In that very Los Angeles way, no one makes a big deal about it.”
Owners Ashley and Tyler Wells keep operations fast and casual during the day, but they do offer reservations and full service for the dinner menu, which is updated regularly on Instagram. Addison emphasizes Tyler Wells’ menu:
“His cooking at All Time has a freewheeling, spunky sort of hominess. The restaurant’s daytime menu remains fairly stationary. Breakfast means the comforts of eggs and bread: a compact but mighty breakfast sandwich of fried eggs, braised greens, fontina and bacon on English muffin; puffed brioche French toast served with maple syrup and berry jam for a double-sweetness win.”
Though he cites cost that might raise eyebrows:
“Dinner is relatively expensive at All Time: appetizers currently run $14 to $22; entrees start at $29, climb past $40 and crest at a steak for two listed as “market price” that lands in the triple digits. I mention it specifically because the place oozes midscale charm but might surprise first-timers with its upscale prices. (The wine list starts at $70 for a bottle, though the majority of selections ring in under $100.) Regulars aren’t dissuaded. The place is brimming most nights.”
Meanwhile, Boyle Heights-bound Patricia Escárcega reviewed Milpa Grille, a “small Mexican restaurant with the anodyne appearance of a fast-casual chain” where the menu takes inspiration from an ancient crop-growing system used throughout the Americas called the Mesoamerican milpa.
With no rice on site, Milpa Grille’s woman-operated kitchen utilizes corn in many different ways. Owner Deysi Serrano only serves ingredients available to her ancestors:
“Corn — the culinary heart of Mexico — is the thread that holds Milpa Grille together. The signature dish — the Milpa Bowl — is a crisp, fibrous blend of grilled corn, black beans and cubed summer squash topped with pink swoops of pickled onions.”
Milpa Grille’s methods include vegetables indigenous to America, from an era where pre-Columbian civilizations thrived before Spanish colonization. Escárcega finds that pork and chicken are not a focus, but impressive:
“The pork is succulent, especially shredded over a thick, slightly toasted corn tortilla (the restaurant uses the sturdy, rough-textured yellow and blue corn tortillas made by the Boyle Heights tortilleria Kernel of Truth Organics).”
Milpa Grille is operated by women, as are the like-minded LA-based Alchemy Organica and Jocelyn Ramirez’ Todo Verde. Escárcega describes all as reshaping “traditional” Mexican food by utilizing pre-Columbian ingredients. And she says to not miss out on the taquitos:
“You will want to order a plate or two of the taquitos, tightly rolled, deep-fried flutes stuffed with shredded chicken, pork or potatoes.”
Angler. 8500 Beverly, Los Angeles.
All Time. 2040 Hillhurst, Los Feliz.
Milpa Grille. 2633 E. Cesar Chavez, Boyle Heights.