Another week, another duo of reviews from LA Times co-critics Patricia Escárcega and Bill Addison. First up is Escárcega dropped her thoughts on Bar Avalon yesterday, the all-day coffee spot and neighborhood bistro she labels as a “gem hiding in plain sight.” The Atlanta-based Revelator Coffee crew opened Bar Avalon in the Mohawk Collective last August with “unrelenting” hospitality, and chef Joshua Guarneri who “turns out small plates heavy on French technique, vegetables and sharp flavors.”
Escárcega paints Bar Avalon’s vibe as such:
The modest-size dining room has what designers call “good bones”: faded brick walls, lofty ceilings and exposed wooden trusses that look more homey than industrial. The raw edges are softened by the fuzzy vibrato of the blues music playing in the background and the smooth tan leather banquettes overlooking a long bar. On the patio, splays of herbs dangle out of pots, the crisp shoots ready to be snipped for dinner service.
When a restaurant reviewer focuses on something as simple and often cliché like a Caesar salad, it’s worth paying attention to:
“Everything goes well with Guarneri’s glorious Caesar salad, a tall, peppery stack of romaine pummeled with citrus, smothered in just-shaved Parmesan and tossed with salty, crunchy, anchovy-flavored croutons.”
As Bar Avalon shifts from day to night, early diners snack on malted yuca chips and $5 glasses of wine. At dinnertime, Escárcega recommends the braised lamb, among other dishes:
“Meaty blue prawns roil with the blunt, scarlet heat of piri piri chile sauce. Gently roasted cauliflower is innervated by Calabrian chiles and chopped anchovies.”
Lunch concludes with a personal touch. General manager and sommelier Nathaniel Muñoz hands out signed — by Muñoz — baseball cards from his and Guarneri’s personal collections.
Meanwhile in Hollywood, Bill Addison has published his review of Luv2Eat, the the six-year-old restaurant operated by Phuket natives and chef/owners Somruthai Kaewtathip (Chef Fern) and Noree Burapapitu (Chef Pla). He labeled Luv2Eat as “essential,” instructs diners to “request the seafood curry as spicy as you can handle it,” and as for whether to order the classic jade noodles wet or dry:
“Dry-style is the move. Adding stock would dilute the truest aim of the dish: to relish how the meats gloss the pale green strands and create soft-crisp-chewy tensions with their combined textures. Slices of roast duck and pork and striated hunks of fried pork belly fan across the bowl with stretchy leaves of gai lan and mounds of chopped peanuts and crushed chiles.”
Luv2Eat’s spice isn’t designed to fry the tastebuds. Instead, “Their approach to spice won’t cause shivers or weeping; they use it for heightening effect, as a magnifier of contrast like salt and acidity.” The Los Angeles Times critic helps define the vibe and dishes:
“Their menu dips into some of the ubiquities of American Thai restaurants: egg rolls, stir-fried Chinese broccoli with beef, pad Thai with a pleasantly sour tautness. Home in on the dishes inspired by Phuket and nearby provinces of Southern Thailand for the most rousing expression of their talents and heritages.”