It’s a week of springtime sunshine and smiles at the LA Times food section, with two glowing restaurant reviews out now on a pair of newer places in West Adams and Pico-Robertson, respectively.
First up is a bright new piece on Alta Adams by critic Bill Addison. The West Adams corner star opened last fall under chef Keith Corbin, with guidance and oversight from San Francisco’s Daniel Patterson. Corbin is the voice and face of the dinnertime restaurant and attached daytime coffee shop, turning out modern soul food that harkens back to the chef’s family and upbringing in Watts, as well as his time overseeing the kitchen at the now-closed Locol.
Addison enjoys most of the food at Alta Adams, from the “excellent” cobb salad to a hanger steak and the restaurant’s signature oxtails over rice, but the star of the show may well be Corbin’s take on fried chicken. Addison says:
I thought living in the South I’d encountered nearly every technique a chef could muster for fried chicken, but Corbin’s is an original: He deep-fries the bird first, then par-bakes it, and right before serving finishes it in a skillet. The method achieves the kind of sheer, crackling crust that’s all but disappeared in restaurant fried chicken. I’m obsessed.
Of course not everything works as it should on the menu, like the dry black-eyed pea fritters. But ultimately Alta Adams is a hit for more than just its food:
What transcends hits-and-misses quibbles is the restaurant’s generous spirit of hospitality... and especially the lucidity of Corbin’s approach. It’s so tempting to muddle Southern and soul food, to haphazardly fuse it with global flavors (some, admittedly, innate; the cuisine has many root systems) or to take it toward make-it-fresh extremes...
The Southerner in me says only: Thank you. Pass the oxtails again, please?
Meanwhile, Patricia Escárcega took to LA’s Jewish Pico-Robertson enclave for a taste of hummus from Hasiba. The kosher Israeli restaurant leans into staples like a sabich sandwich, rich ful, and some of the most polarizing sourdough pita bread in all the land. Escárcega says:
Hasiba has inspired both debate and devotion among the local hummus-and-pita cognoscenti. The hummus is good, somebody told me recently, but not superior to what you’ll find at some of the other spots in the neighborhood. Others, most notably the young woman seated next to me at Hasiba, call the restaurant’s hummus and pita the city’s best.
The critic expounds on the modern Middle Eastern movement, especially surrounding hummus, happening all over America at the moment, from Bavel to Dizengoff. Some iterations of these restaurants are better than others, and Hasiba is near the top of the list. That’s especially true when veering into a “hard to resist” falafel sandwich and deep-fried pita bites with honey as a finisher, aka “your new favorite dessert.” In all, Hasiba sure sounds like a win for Escárcega, from start to finish.