Wielding three combined Michelin stars for Mélisse and Citrin (two for the former, one for the latter), longtime Santa Monica chef Josiah Citrin is opening a second location of his Venice steakhouse Charcoal, but this time in the deal-making hotbed of the Sunset Strip. With 230 seats inside, a wide street-level patio, and a wraparound cocktail bar, Citrin is poised to make some big bucks along with the Hollywood power brokers that like to frequent West Hollywood steakhouses. Consider the success and staying power of Boa, just a few blocks down, and consistently one of the most popular places on the Sunset Strip.
While Mélisse and its sister restaurant Citrin serve more polished French fare, Charcoal has always been the fine dining chef’s more approachable, family-oriented concept with big cushy booths and bold flavors, like a blackened half-head of cabbage with yogurt and sumac. Other starters include smoky grilled chicken wings, coal-roasted shishito peppers, ahi tuna tartare, and chopped salad with havarti and grilled onions. The surf-and-turf section will be the main draw at Charcoal, including 21-day-aged duck, grilled loup de mer with “San Sebastián” vinaigrette, and a massive pre-sliced Angus porterhouse.
Some other mains include Dungeness crab squid ink pasta, lamb sugo with fresh pappardelle, and both bone-in ribeye and chicken kosher options from Rabbi’s Daughter. Expect a catch-all menu with wide appeal that should draw some energy from the always-hip Sunset Strip crowd.
In addition to Charcoal, Citrin has been on a restaurant opening streak of late, first partnering with Hans and Patti Rockenwagner at the lauded Dear John’s in Culver City, and eventually Dear Jane’s in Marina del Rey. Citrin opened Augie’s on Main, dedicated to his late son, after years of development, serving a mean backyard-style burger and roasted chicken plates.
Perhaps the only minor squabble with Charcoal might be its more indistinctive visual style and branding, including the name and the sleek but otherwise uninteresting interior. While the restaurant is dark and simple, studded with greenery at the bar and hanging votives, the design overall reads as generic versus something that represents LA’s top tier. It’s a shame because Citrin and his cooking have always been highly regarded among Angelenos. While the vibes and menu design lean more toward “dad who’s trying to be cool,” Charcoal Sunset still makes a solid addition to the always-changing Sunset Strip.
Charcoal Sunset opened July 11 and serves Tuesday to Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (with eventual seven-day service) at 9000 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Book seats on Resy.