It’s not every day that LA earns a big new museum restaurant, but Audrey, which opens today inside the totally underrated Hammer Museum in Westwood from Soa Davis Forrest and chef Lisa Giffen in the kitchen. Serving lunch and dinner inside the museum, there’s no entrance fee required to dine at the restaurant, which takes over the museum’s rather wonderful courtyard, as well as a portion of the ground floor.
Giffen cooked at Maison Premiere in Brooklyn and its sister restaurant Sauvage, and has experience at Daniel and Blue Hill. Davis Forrest was at Le Bernardin for a while before working on Maple, a delivery-only restaurant, for the Momofuku empire.
The food feels seasonal, approachable, and more or less unchallenging, but still dotted with some highlights like octopus with almond gremolata and pickled shallots to the ocean trout with puntarelle and gribiche. Heritage pork porterhouse comes with broccoli, dates, and espelette jus for a mere $35 a dish, while a bigger 28 ounce bone-in ribeye comes with shishito peppers and a $65 price point. Apps feels shareable and light, something to cap off a day or afternoon at the museum. Lunch offers some easier fare like a Sunfed ranch burger or spaghetti with homemade ricotta and tomato sauce.
To drink, there’s some fun cocktails to sip in the photogenic space, like The Audrey with blanco tequila and passionfruit or Briar Patch Bloom with sloe gin, amaro, and thyme. A nice Domaine Chardigny burgundy would be a nice pairing to that steak, or opt for a crisp Albarino with a kanpachi crudo starter.
Westwood’s rarely going to get much in the way of interesting food, mostly because of a relative lack of compelling places to eat, the need to appeal to a wide audience, and a big college clientele that likely can’t spend too much on dining out. Throw in bad parking, traffic, and high rents, and it’s pretty rough for independent restaurants. Hopefully Audrey can turn the tide with a modestly priced menu (at least these days) that does a nice job of infusing fresh local produce, quality meats, and a solid beverage program.
Michael Maltzan Architecture and Fettle helped put together the midcentury modern design. Hammer Museum board member Audrey Irmas is the inspiration behind the name of the restaurant.
Audrey is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Monday along with the rest of the museum. 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024.