Recession Busters: Craftbar, Ortolan
Craftbar Opens: Beginning tonight, chef Tom Colicchio and chef de cuisine Matthew Accarrino transform Craft Los Angeles' front lounge and terrace into Craftbar, where they'll serve an array of small dishes all priced $10 or under. Snack on hush puppies with tomato-bacon jam, Jidori chicken wings with maple Dijon aioli, lamb sliders, foie gras confit, raw albacore tuna with pickled shallots and kishu tangerine, veal and ricotta meatballs, Berkshire pork rillettes and several Italian-influenced dishes like spaghetti with abalone puttanesca, braised veal ravioli with hazelnut brown butter and leek goat cheese pizza. For dessert, pastry chef Catherine Schimenti has whipped up half a dozen offerings including cinnamon sugar donut holes, butterscotch panna cotta and coffee ice cream parfait with whiskey sauce and toffee pecans. Craftbar: 10100 Constellation Blvd., L.A. (310) 279-4180.
Nibbles at Ortolan: Chef Christophe Émé recently added ten Nibbles -- less expensive, small plates that cost $6 to $14 -- to Ortolan's menu. Available Tuesday through Saturday, 6 p.m. to closing, they include short ribs with a potato soufflé and herb salad; pork confit with chickpea and gelée; salmon with lemongrass and ponzu. This is the first of several changes including a Sunday brunch that starts this Sunday, March 8, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (appetizer, main course and dessert for $45 per person plus tax and gratuity). Émé has also dropped the price of the eight-course seduction menu from $110 per person to $80 per person; it can be ordered until 9:30 p.m. daily. Ortolan Restaurant: 8338 W. 3rd Street, L.A. (323) 653-3300, www.ortolanrestaurant.com
-- Elina Shatkin
Photos: TOP: Pork belly with Madras curry and dates at Craft; the terrace at Craft. (Los Angeles Times). BOTTOM: Crystal chandeliers, high-backed leather booths and sweeping curtains give a glamorous air to the main dining room at Ortolan. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)