Celebrated restaurants and chefs are reinventing the concept of eating alfresco
Words by KATHRYN ROMEYN with contributions by MARIE LOOK
California weather is conducive to the atmospheric act of dining outdoors nearly year-round, and many are realizing that now is the time to take this concept even further. With the mayor’s extension of the sidewalk and patio dining program L.A. Al Fresco until 2021, Angeleno restaurateurs and hoteliers have devised a slew of new pop-ups that bring the very best of their venues outdoors.
If you miss date nights, celebratory dinners or casual cocktails, here are some L.A. food and beverage experiences that in many ways are even more special than what was even possible before.
Left: THE GROVE, home to new pop-up PICNIC SOCIETY. Right: A burger by GWEN butcher shop and restaurant.
Los Angeles-based Michelin-starred chef Curtis Stone has just opened Picnic Society (189 The Grove Dr., L.A.), a four-month pop-up in collaboration with open-air retail, entertainment and dining mecca The Grove and his own Hollywood butcher shop, Gwen. Conceived as a full-service restaurant and grab-and-go market, Picnic Society offers gourmet sandwiches, lobster rolls, salads Nicoise, steak frites and other upscale dishes, plus curated spreads, cheeses, charcuterie, vegetables and European-style delicacies. Just pop over to The Grove’s second-floor terrace to scoop up premade baskets, blankets, cutlery and even miniature tables for anything and everything you could possibly need for the perfect California picnic.
Tropical vibes at the South Asian-themed rooftop venue LAS PALMAS in West Hollywood. Photo by David Higgs.
West Hollywood’s popular Southeast Asian–themed E.P. & L.P. has redesigned its rooftop with a luscious array of palms, succulents and lounge-y rattan furniture, and debuted Las Palmas (603 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., 310-855-9955), a Tulum-inspired pop-up. Accessible only with a reservation — and a temperature check at the downstairs entrance — the well-spaced scene (open through early 2021) feels made for brunch or sunset cocktails and small bites. There’s a lobster quesadilla, carne asada skewers, melt-in-your-mouth cheesy corn croquettes, and fish tacos. For the record, it’s very low-contact: Guests use a QR code to access menus on their smartphones, and each table has hand sanitizer.
LE PETIT BELVEDERE terrace at THE PENINSULA BEVERLY HILLS.
The Peninsula Beverly Hills’ lobby may be quiet, but a back terrace is now hopping — with generously spaced tables, of course — as Le Petit Belvedere (9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-975-2736). Open for the foreseeable future, Le Petit features a new Love sculpture by Robert Indiana and a California-style brasserie menu that sees executive chef David Codney expertly melding French flavors and exquisite technique for a saffron risotto croquette, croque monsieur, steak au poivre and other delicious entrees. Each evening at 8 p.m., staff pass around Champagne for a toast, meant to acknowledge and celebrate all the missed occasions of the last few months.
The patio at ALTA ADAMS in Los Angeles. Photo by Andrea D’Agosto.
In the West Adams neighborhood of L.A., chefs Keith Corbin and Daniel Patterson’s Alta Adams (5359 W. Adams Blvd., L.A., 323-571-4999) has pivoted use of its spacious, green patio on Monday nights for collaborative dinners and themed suppers with world-renowned talent and rising culinary stars. Collaborators have so far included the likes of San Francisco’s Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn by Dominique Crenn, and Michelin-starred Kato’s celebrated chef Jon Kao. Upcoming events will feature a six-course menu ($125/person) by chef Miles Thompson (formerly of Michael’s in Santa Monica) on Oct. 19, as well as menus by Top Chef alum Nyesha Arrington on Oct. 26, and James Beard Best Chef West semifinalist Claudette Zepeda on Nov. 2.
The seaside dining area at Santa Monica’s SHUTTERS ON THE BEACH.
In Santa Monica, Shutters on the Beach has turned its valet circle into a magical little alfresco dinner spot, dubbed The Courtyard at 1 Pico (1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-587-1717). This fall, the site will be the scene for romantic dates and intimate family gatherings at round tables and in comfy wicker chairs under a panoply of hanging lanterns. Start with a Kir Royale and move on to grilled avocado with lump crab and a divine roasted Alaskan halibut.
Right next door, Hotel Casa del Mar has rethought its sand-side terrace and opened the Terrazza Beachside Patio pop-up (1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, 310-581-7714), also running through fall. With heat lamps to create a cozy atmosphere as temps begin to dip, and the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, it’s an ideal place to enjoy classic coastal California cuisine — think iced seafood platters, grilled octopus, lobster rolls and fish tacos, plus cocktails, of course.
Left: Eats by POST SCRIPT; photo by Jakob Layman. Right: DE BUENA PLANTA has made over a Venice parking lot.
From Heather Tierney, founder of The Butcher’s Daughter in Venice, comes new plant-based, Mexican-inspired pop-up De Buena Planta (1118 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice), open Wednesdays through Sundays from 4 to 10:30 p.m. To transform an Abbot Kinney parking lot into a social-distancing-friendly, fiesta-ready outdoor lounge, Tierney’s team brought in tropical plants, string lights, a 15-foot cypress wood bar and pergola, and a fire pit surrounded by brightly colored, custom acapulco chairs. The gluten-free menu offers plant-based tacos and vegan ceviche, plus guests have the option of designing their own vegetable plate. Cool down with housemade popsicles and tortillas dulces with frozen chocolate mousse, or sip an organic margarita or watermelon mezcalita, made with verde mezcal, watermelon, lime, spicy agave and chipotle salt.
Meanwhile, down the street, Vartan Abgaryan, chef at Yours Truly, along with restaurateurs David Reiss and Paul Pruitt, have commandeered a different Abbot Kinney parking lot — more specifically, the parking lot of Reiss’ hip watering hole The Brig — for a casual dining venture called Post Script (1525 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310-762-2111). Central to the totally alfresco experience is the new American menu (think grilled meats and simple but satisfying side dishes) served under a kitted-out tent featuring a painted floor, greenery and seating for up to 100 in the form of coordinating chairs and picnic tables. Post Script, now on Resy, is open evenings, Wednesday through Sunday.
Feature image: Colorful seating and surrounds at DE BUENA PLANTA in Venice.
Oct. 5, 2020
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