After a few weeks spent exploring other options in and around Los Angeles, from a Riverside County Mexican restaurant to the chain greatness of the Cheesecake Factory, the LA Times restaurant co-critics are back with two powerful recommendations for hot new restaurants.
First up is Antico, Chad Colby’s rustic Italian farmhouse spot at the eastern edge of Larchmont. Temporary critic Lucas Kwan Peterson, sitting in for Patricia Escárcega who is out on maternity leave, found “strong pastas and perfect ice cream” inside the humble strip mall restaurant, and that’s just the beginning:
A piece of outside skirt steak, cut appealingly on a strong bias, is nicely kissed by wood smoke and cooked as well as you would expect from someone with a Ph.D. in meat like Colby. Unimpeachable lamb chops, Frenched and with the rib meat stuffed into an accompanying small coil of lightly garlicky sausage, sit in a pool of good olive oil, which seems to be Colby’s go-to condiment.
Mostly though, it’s all about the carbs and dessert. Peterson says the ice cream machine used at Antico is basically the equivalent of a luxury sports car, turning out a chocolate ice cream “with a deep, dense chocolatey-ness that growls and purrs like a Ferrari F8.” Sounds like reason enough to stop in for a full dinner, if only to watch Colby turn steaks and “let his carb freak flag fly.”
Bill Addison, for his turn, takes a similar tack with Bon Temps in the Arts District. The Lincoln Carson project starts, uniquely, with practically a pastry-first approach, a sensible move given the chef’s fine dining background in that regard. But the point of Bon Temps, the critic says, is to not hover over the desserts so long that the rest gets lost in the shuffle.
Include a dozen oysters from the raw bar to start, or chilled prawns whose heads are deep-fried and presented hot alongside (they’re the best part). Sip a Normandy Tonique (Calvados, Rinomato Americano Bianco, tonic water) or a similarly civilized cocktail by veteran bartender Mike Lay; wine director Krystal Kleeman follows suit with a tightly edited, Old World-leaning, just-geeky-enough bottle list. The mood is set.
Addison finds that he’s “particularly taken with the kitchen’s command of fish,” from Mackerel to Black bass and beyond, even if a few of the dishes (like an English pea and ramp ravioli) feel decidedly out of season.
And then, of course, it’s time for entirely too much dessert:
Give Carson’s masterpieces their deserved chance. Is the St. Honoré too much for you? Go for the chocolate souffle, the intricacies of its flavor teased out by chartreuse ice cream. Carson coats the souffle’s billowing border with large sugar crystals for crunch; one can’t help but rip off cakey hunks by hand.
The anonymous critic says that he would “happily show up later in the night with a friend or two simply to order the entire dessert menu,” which is certainly high praise these days considering the role of high-end pastry chef is practically endangered in the restaurant industry in 2019.
In the end, Addison admits that the restaurant “is an investment,” but finds that the exploration Carson is doing is worthy of his wallet — especially when sitting on that brick-lined patio.
Antico. 4653 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA.
Bon Temps. 712 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA.