Chef Miles Thompson’s current pop-up restaurant run at Hotel Normandie in Koreatown is coming to a close, following weeks of sold-out dinners under the name Baby Bistro and lots of speculation about what comes next. Thompson is one of LA’s (many) culinary stars, having worked across the dining spectrum with home pop-ups and stints at restaurants like Son of a Gun, his own Allumette, and vaunted Westside legend Michael’s. He’s long wanted a small, hyper-seasonal permanent space to call his own, and now he’ll get the chance with a new project coming together quietly in a residential stretch of Echo Park.
Along with partner and front-of-house lead Andy Schwartz (Lolo Wine Bar, Camo & Co.), Thompson plans to open just across the way from the tiny Perilla in a redone development tucked into the hills adjacent to Chinatown. The project, envisioned by architect and developer Jingbo Lou, puts Baby Bistro inside a nearly 100-year-old house, with just enough room for 35 seats and a menu of small, seasonal delights. There won’t even be room for a walk-in fridge — just quality food, low-markup wine and “an outpouring of hospitality,” says Schwartz.
“We’re trying to be a place where you can go experience something really special, really focused,” says Thompson, “but at the same time, still have a lot of fun.”
The upcoming version of Baby Bistro, set to open in early summer 2024, will keep the same sense of seasonal delight as the current pop-up in Koreatown, just scaled up with a few more seats and staff members. “The food menu may expand by three or so items,” says Schwartz, “but it’ll feel very similar to what’s currently happening. The guiding principle will still be the guest experience, with a little bit of comfort, a little surprise thrown in.”
Reservations for Baby Bistro Koreatown were snatched up fast, with customers ordering most (if not all) of the hand-written menu for the table. The pair were given the green light to continue the pop-up well into next year, but decided to shut it down well ahead of next summer’s reopening. “We want it to have been a limited experience,” says Thompson, “not lead into some conversation about how the new restaurant is different from the pop-up somehow.” Following the end of that pop-up on September 1, Thompson and Schwartz say they plan to be pretty much head down on getting Baby Bistro Echo Park out into the world — albeit with some one-off events, collaborations, and nights spent trailing operators at other restaurants thrown in.
They’ll also spend time getting to know the neighborhood, and interacting with neighbors along Alpine Street if possible. Both Schwartz and Thompson are adamant that Baby Bistro will be a welcoming restaurant for all, though they recognize that their price point may not be viable for everyone. “The whole idea is to be a far-reaching neighborhood restaurant,” says Thompson. “We’re going to charge what we need to charge to stay in business, but we’re determined to be approachable.”
“It’s not lost on us that restaurants are expensive,” Thompson continues, “but it’s certainly part of our core that if you come here we’re going to treat you with respect and reverence for your attention. We literally could not do it without you coming to eat. You’re doing us a favor just by showing up, so thank you.”
Baby Bistro will open next summer at 1027 B Alpine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.