Some of the final restaurant reviews from 2019 are flooding in this week, offering a look inside Costa Mesa’s Knife Pleat, Chad Colby’s Antico, and (for two of them) a glimpse into Dave Beran’s Santa Monica stunner, Pasjoli. Let’s dive in.
The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Addison and The Hollywood Reporter’s Gary Baum both found Beran’s traditional French menu compelling. Baum only had two complaints: “helpful if stiff waitstaff,” and “perhaps the least flattering lighting outside of a food court.” Addison loves it all.
Both recommend the $165 roast duck for two, which must be ordered in advance and is partially prepared at the table with an antique duck press. It’s luxury all the way here, as Addison’s final words note:
“These are worthy pleasures for Beran and chef de cuisine Matthew Kim (who was sous chef at Dialogue) to have mastered. Beran is one of our brainiest chefs; he’s an appropriate medium through which to revive Escoffier. But when he does wind his way back to the market, when he really plunges his hands and mind into the California dirt? I think that’s when we’ll see French-inspired cooking that melds the past with the future and leads us into the 2020s.”
THR’s Baum recaps his own with two sentences:
“Pasjoli, a tricky feat of reenactment and creative brio, easily could have crumpled. It’s a surpassing credit that it soars.”
LA’s French power couple chef Tony Esnault and restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi closed Downtown’s Spring, then sold Church & State, before putting all efforts into South Coast Plaza’s Knife Pleat this year. Los Angeles Times’ reviewer Patricia Escárcega describes the Orange County restaurant as “the perfectly tailored French restaurant Orange County needs.”
Knife Pleat received mixed reviews from the Orange County Register last week. But Escárcega enjoyed the lunchtime cassoulet, and finds that Knife Pleat’s modern French works:
“I’m not sure there’s a more serious, market-driven French restaurant in Orange County than Knife Pleat — not one, at least, with a chef as disciplined and accomplished as Esnault. If your daydreams center on the pleasures of dunking crusty mini-baguettes into warm bean stew or a seasonal vegetable plate that makes filet look insipid by comparison, Knife Pleat is worth the trek from almost anywhere in Southern California.”
TimeOut’s Simon Majumdar gives high marks for Antico.
“The menu at Chad Colby’s new rustic, open-hearth Italian restaurant may not offer anything quite so dramatic as the beef and bone marrow pie of my dreams at the chef’s former kitchen—Nancy Silverton’s chi SPACCA—but over multiple visits to Antico, we found enough hallmarks of Colby’s cooking to make us understand why his new spot’s been a hit since its launch.”