Does Five Leaves’ Arrival Signify the Brooklyn-ifcation of L.A.?

The Greenpoint all-day hot spot puts its West Coast roots down in East Hollywood

Words by BROOKE PORTER KATZ

 

If you’re a Brooklynite living in Los Angeles, chances are good you’ve already had at least two meals at Five Leaves, the new West Coast outpost of Greenpoint’s beloved all-day restaurant. The East Hollywood spot is just one in a steady stream of New York projects that have recently expanded to L.A. — think pizza star Roberta’s in Culver City, cocktail hangout Apothéke and chef David Chang’s Majordomo in Chinatown, and West Hollywood watering hole Employees Only. And if Five Leaves is anything like the original, it’ll be a magnet for diners who love lingering over brunch and delicious salads by day and pitchers of grapefruit margaritas by 7 p.m.

The Nitty Gritty: Five Leaves, which considers itself a new American restaurant with an Aussie bent, aims to be the kind of neighborhood spot that regulars will come back to. And often. The idea for an L.A. location has been in the works for years, but it wasn’t until BrightSide Hospitality, the guys behind the project, fell in love with the 1930’s art deco building that they decided to go for it.

The Vibe: The design firm HOME is responsible for the spacious, light-filled dining room. It’s much bigger than the Brooklyn outpost, and the owners took full advantage, filling it with modern elements that celebrate the building’s heritage. At 89 seats strong, diners can tuck into one of the burnt orange and mustard yellow U-shaped booths among lots of small potted plants and soft globe lighting while waiting for their dishes, which are served on Heath Ceramics plates. The marble-topped bar — also U-shaped — has a turquoise base, a bright pop of color among the black and gold accents. An outdoor patio is in the works.

The Bar Tab: Cocktails are bright and fresh, incorporating ingredients like cucumber and arugula (in the Winthrop gimlet) and muddled blackberry (in the Night Nurse). If you only try one, make it the signature Turmeric Bees Knees, a mix of gin, lemon, turmeric-infused honey, spices and orange bitters. And pitcher cocktails — like the El Rey, a not-too-sweet grapefruit margarita — are great for larger groups. The mezcal options are especially impressive. As for the wine, the menu is highly edited — three white, three red, and one each sparkling, rosé and orange — with a focus on European and skin-contact varieties.

The Game Plan: The restaurant is open all day (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.) so it’ll take multiple meals to make your way through the menus by chef Warren Baird. You’ll find all the Brooklyn staples (we’re looking at you, chopped black kale salad), as well as a few L.A. additions like fluffy, pancake-like sweet corn fritters, topped with chunky tomato-avocado salsa and a poached egg with a generous dollop of yogurt on the side for breakfast and brunch. Under dinner starters, the new grilled prawns are served, head on, with marinated green papaya, tamarind, cucumber, tomatillo and Thai basil. Good luck picking a main — it’s one of those menus you’ll pore over, trying to narrow it down. Mary’s half chicken, served with white asparagus, toasted farro, pickled chard and sherry jus, is textbook comfort food. And the veggie burger, layered with tomato chutney, feta, pickled peppers and arugula is hearty without overdoing it.

Good luck picking a main — it’s one of those menus you’ll pore over, trying to narrow it down

Don’t Skip: The minted cavatelli. With English peas, green garlic and slivers of Meyer lemon plus shimeji mushrooms and smoked ricotta, it’s like springtime on a plate.

Getting In: The restaurant is on Resy, so it doesn’t hurt to book in advance — especially right now, when it’s popping up on just about everyone’s radar. (On a recent on-the-fly visit on Saturday night around 8:30 p.m., the wait for a table for two without a reservation was about 45 minutes.) There’s also valet parking. 4845 Fountain Ave., L.A., 323-426-9997.

 

Feature image: The marble-topped (and well-stocked) bar at FIVE LEAVES. Photograph by Jonny Valiant Photography.

May 14, 2019

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