A group of LA restaurant veterans quietly opened Wine House Kitchen in late September directly above West LA’s 47-year-old wine shop Wine House, which is owned by the Knight family. Located a few blocks from bustling Sawtelle Japantown, the restaurant boasts some unique vibes on an industrial stretch of Cotner Avenue, just south of Santa Monica Boulevard.
The top-floor restaurant has taken on multiple concepts over the years. Most recently, it was a contemporary wine bar serving small plates called Upstairs 2 that closed in 2019. In March 2020, Jim Knight, one of the wine shop’s owners, approached François Renaud (the former general manager and partner of Terrine and general manager at Viale dei Romani) to open a new restaurant. COVID-19 delayed Wine House Kitchen’s debut by three years.
The two-month-old restaurant is gunning for a crowd that’s eager for casual yet elegant dining with a respectable wine list. Behind the stoves is chef Maiki Le, whose crafted an LA-meets-French-Vietnamese menu. Le’s previous experiences includes opening multiple locations of Belcampo Meat Co. and serving as sous chef at Momed Beverly Hills and executive chef of the now-closed Upstairs 2.
Le’s creative starters on the menu includes carbonara deviled egg, pineapple gochujang chicken bites, duck confit bao, and a spin on paté choud made with guinea fowl, morels, leeks, and a mustard cream sauce in puff pastry. Main dishes include a cast-iron barramundi, coffee-rubbed ribeye, and an impossibly rich salmon imperial roll with creme fraiche, spinach, and three types of roe. Also on the menu is a 21-day, dry-aged, bone-in tomahawk that clocks in at 32 ounces, along with a cheese platter and a lemon cream tart for dessert. Renaud recruited veteran expediter Erik Garcia, who worked at the Tasting Kitchen, Terrine, Sotto, and Agnes, to keep things running smoothly.
To drink, lead bartender Chris Grosso, who previously spent time behind the bar at Blind Barber, Viale dei Romani, and RPM Bar in New York, serves up twists on the classics. Renaud developed the wine list and also brought in Wine House Kitchen sommelier-server Grace Gaboury from Chi Spacca and Butcher’s Daughter. “It was built to match Le’s food,” says Renaud. “Some are nearly extinct like the Negrette from Chateau Flotis in the French southwestern Fronton region. And there’s a lot of older vintages, like the 2013 Chateau Revelette Coteaux d’Aix en Provence which you don’t see much on [restaurant] wine lists these days.”
Wine House Kitchen is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.