Never Leave LA

The Larchmont Ups its Game with French Laundry Alum Chef

This 100 year old two story former home on 5750 Melrose Avenue now The Larchmont makes you feel like you are no longer in busy LA. As soon as I arrive things feel calmer because the seating is intimate and the white washed main dining room is not noisy like many establishments in LA. There is  a wooden deck and even a neat outdoor area that wraps around like a side porch. A vintage mirror hangs over the fireplace and a colorful underwater scene from renowned photographer Kristian Schmidt of a beautiful girl in a dress facing and embracing a great white shark catches my attention.

Once I meet one of the owners, French Mathew Cape I understand the breezy beach bungalow theme reminiscent of The Hamptons or the Côte d’Azur. He got his start opening a wine bar in St. Tropez at age 18. Co-owners Spoon Singh (Founder of Kona Brewing Company, Venice Ale House, Bank of Venice, Austin Ale House) and Mathew Cape (multifaceted restaurateur -owner of Vinolio, responsible for consulting with the Houston Brothers on the design of Pour Vous and now exploring hotel projects in other cities) are committed to elevating the quality of the cuisine, and making it one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles.

Charred Baby Octopus Salad with white beans, frisee, wild rocket, and harissa aioli at The Larchmont (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Charred Baby Octopus Salad with white beans, frisee, wild rocket, and harissa aioli (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Due to their sustainable fresh Farmer’s market-driven philosophy, the owners selected Chef Kathman to steer the direction of this couple year old restaurant. Although the 70 seat restaurant downstairs is typically full, we dined on a quieter Monday night on one flavorful masterpiece after another thanks to the new impressive Chef Kevin Kathman, a veteran of The French Laundry and Phoenix’s renowned Christopher’s. Kathman has over 20-years’ experience working for restaurants, such as Pinot Blanc, Gramercy Tavern, Gordon Ramsay, and Barbette Restaurant.

Venison Chop with foie gras, chanterelle mushrooms, fingerling potato, and pearl onion at The Larchmont (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Venison Chop with foie gras, chanterelle mushrooms, fingerling potato, and pearl onion (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Due to the incredible California produce that grows year round, Chef Kathman can easily nurture relationships with the finest local ranchers, farmers, and foragers to ensure that the restaurant’s philosophy is reflected on each plate. Oh, did he do that so well with unexpected flavor combinations!

Local Halibut with Bloomsdale spinach, artichoke, asparagus, and spring garlic at The Larchmont. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Local Halibut with Bloomsdale spinach, artichoke, asparagus, and spring garlic (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Here are some of the chef’s creations we tested for this season:

Asparagus soup warm presented as a lovely shot to cleanse the palatte – I could have drank a bowl.

Charred Baby Octopus Salad with white beans, frisee, wild rocket, and harissa aioli

Scallop Crudo with black truffle, lemon, brown butter, turnip, cress, and nasturtium

Venison Chop with foie gras, chanterelle mushrooms, fingerling potato, and pearl onion

Local Halibut with Bloomsdale spinach, artichoke, asparagus, and spring garlic

Scallop Crudo with black truffle, lemon, brown butter, turnip, cress, and nasturtium. When was the last time you had shaved scallops? Only at the Larchmont. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Scallop Crudo with black truffle, lemon, brown butter, turnip, cress, and nasturtium. When was the last time you had shaved scallops? (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

You may like to sample the following:

For appetizers, Smoked Sturgeon with fennel and potato salad, caviar, horseradish, and Meyer lemon; Chicken Liver Pate with crostini, Dijon, and vegetable pickles; Smoked Pork Belly with celery and apple slaw, and apple gastrique; and Roasted Baby Beets with goat cheese, hazelnut, and petite lettuces; and more.

Signature entrees include Pan Roasted Salmon with braised romaine, sunchokes, and black truffle sauce; Rock Shrimp Risotto with tomato confit, fines herbs, fennel, and lobster emulsion; Moroccan Braised Lamb Shoulderwith couscous, chermoula, and fried almonds; “Steak Frites” Prime Flat Iron Steak with béarnaise butter, rocket, and bordelaise sauce.

Desserts comprise of Bread Pudding with bitter chocolate, sea salt, and banana mouse; and Panna Cotta with passion fruit, grapefruit, blueberry, basil, and pine nut; among other dishes.

The Larchmont on Melrose

Photo credit: The Larchmont on Melrose

“From the moment I walked in, I fell in love with the place,” remembers Kathman, who notes that even with the casual vibe, it reminds him of The French Laundry.

After speaking with Kathman I realized once again the dedication and passion one has to embody to be a chef when you often don’t leave your restaurant til around midnight and return each day around 9 AM. When I asked him where he finds his inspiration for dishes and if he explore cookbooks, it became clear that his brilliance comes from his experience, training, an innate sense (or perhaps others taste testing his concoctions) and that he has wanted to explore cookbooks for some time, but hasn’t gotten around to it.

Bread Pudding and Panna Cotta with fruit bliss at The Larchmont. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Bread Pudding and Panna Cotta with fruit bliss. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Not only did I enjoy dining in a space where I could actually talk to my table mates without having to shout, but the food was presented and combined in flavorful unexpected ways, AND the hospitality and service were impeccable. Our server was so joyful and passionate describing each ingredient to our table, that I thanked him and gave him a hug at the end of the night for his excellence in making the night so enjoyable.

Find this beautiful spot just north of Larchmont Village and near Paramount Studios. I parked right on Lucerne Boulevard right off of Melrose Avenue for over 4 hours without problem, but I made sure to read the signs closely. Valet is available on Lucerne Boulevard for $6.

The patio at the Larchmont on Melrose

Photo credit: The Larchmont on Melrose

Private dining available for 15 to 60 and receptions to 100 are possible; contact Matthew Cape at 323.464.4277.

Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. We hear brunch may be coming soon.

Dinner: Monday-Saturday 6-11 p.m., closed Sunday.

The Larchmont

5750 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90038

323.464.4277

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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