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Scene Setter: Taking a closer look at Forage in Silver Lake

March 10, 2010 |  7:29 am

In an eco-conscious, fashion-forward neighborhood like Silver Lake (where ergonomic strollers are beginning to outnumber hangovers), it was bound to happen: A restaurant has opened that encourages diners to bring in produce from their home gardens, which the chefs then make into dishes to put on the menu.

Forage is the homegrown idea of chef-owner Jason Kim, who was once a sous chef at Lucques. And rather than coming across as a pretentious marketing ploy, its foraging program brings the cozy familiarity of a small-town neighborhood to the big city restaurant. At once sleek and modern while retaining a home-style rusticity, Forage adds a needed edge to Silver Lake's drowsy restaurant row.

It's very now too. The food is simple, fresh, rich and comforting. The menu -- as dictated by Kim's regular trips to the farmers market and whatever foraged produce comes in on any given day -- is constantly in flux, and a popular dish can run out long before dinner service or brunch is over.

"Our menus are very spontaneous and on the spot," said Kim, explaining how the foraging program shapes the final offerings. When someone comes in with produce, Kim, pastry chef Alina Katchi and sous chef Isabella Pedroli sit down with the donor, taste what's been brought in and brainstorm what they might cook with it.

To read the rest of Jessica Gelt's story and look at a taste-tempting photo gallery, click here.

Photo: Servers dish up a plate of farro-and-lentil salad and citrus beets for a diner at Forage in Silver Lake. Credit: Christina House / For The Times.