A new French and Indian-influenced brasserie called Camphor is opening from two Alain Ducasse veterans inside the former Nightshade space next month. Max Boonthanakit, who was awarded Eater Young Gun in 2019 (a designation that has been renamed Eater New Guard) when he was the pastry chef of Nightshade, and co-executive Lijo George, who both worked at Blue by Alain Ducasse in Bangkok, will open the new restaurant in mid-February with Cyrus Batchan, who also owns Lock and Key in Koreatown.
This means Nightshade, which never formally reopened during the pandemic, is officially closed; when asked about the closure, former Nightshade chef Mei Lin declined to comment. The former Eater LA Restaurant of the Year, Eater Best New Restaurant, and James Beard Award Foundation Best New Restaurant Finalist never announced that it would return despite a fierce effort to stay open with takeout service in the first few weeks of the pandemic. In the past two years, with reopenings and closures, Nightshade never hinted that it would return.
In its place comes a “back-to-basics” style French restaurant inspired by Indian flavors thanks to George, who hails from Kerala and worked under Ducasse in Bangkok for over eight years. The two met at the Michelin-starred Blue by Alain Ducasse, where Boonthanakit was executive pastry chef under head chef Wilfred Hocquet (interestingly enough, formerly of Georgie in Beverly Hills).
Boonthanakit and George plan to prepare French dishes with Indian ingredients, like a whole chicken breast with chicken thigh mousse and tandoori spice, or frozen hot chocolate hazelnut soufflé. The word the co-chefs continue to emphasize is that the food will be “light,” in direct contrast to the typical presentation of buttery, rich French fare. While other dishes haven’t been announced, expect plenty of vegetable-friendly and seafood options for dinner.
The interior look offers a lot of white, with the millennial pink hues of Nightshade giving way to lighter earth tones, marble, and periwinkle blue banquette seating. Otherwise, the space won’t undergo a drastic change in layout, with an open kitchen and inviting cocktail bar along the far side, with bar manager and beverage director Andrew Panigua making French-inspired drinks.
Once it opens in mid-February, Camphor will serve Wednesday to Monday from 5 to 11 p.m.