Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Deep Dish

David Myers Group buys Hollywood space for new restaurant concept

Myers After the closure of Sona restaurant this summer, it looks as if chef David Myers will rise again in Hollywood. David Myers Group, the restaurant firm formed after Sona filed for bankruptcy protection late last year, has purchased two ground-floor units totaling nearly 12,375 square feet in the Equitable Building at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, according to Ramsey-Shilling Commercial Real Estate Services. 

That includes a vacant unit for Myers' latest concept and Dillon’s Irish Pub & Grill, which will continue to operate.

David Myers Group also owns and operates Melrose Avenue brasserie Comme Ça and Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa. Meanwhile, two Tokyo projects are slated for the fall: a high-end patisserie called Sola and a 40-seat restaurant, David Myers Café, featuring California-inspired cuisine with Japanese ingredients. And in late 2010, a second Comme Ça is expected to open at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. 

Ramsey-Shilling's announcement did not say whether Myers' new restaurant would be called Sona. Myers did not return a call for comment. 

See the Money & Co. blog for more details. 

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: David Myers. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

Sang Yoon's Lukshon to open this fall in Culver City


Details of Sang Yoon's long-awaited Culver City restaurant Lukshon are starting to surface. Chef-owner Yoon says he and his partner, James Bygrave, expect to open Lukshon "in a few months," featuring a creative, modern menu based on Southeast Asian flavors. 

It sounds ambitious: contemporary dishes that showcase Southeast Asian cuisine and its multicultural culinary influences stamped by French, Dutch and Portuguese colonization. (Yoon isn't forthcoming with details about specific dishes yet.) Despite the name's play on the Yiddish word for noodle (luchen or lucksh), it's not a noodle shop. From the man who imported water from Scotland to mix with his Scotch whiskey at Father's Office and has an experimental test kitchen, expect obsessive inspiration from niche Asian ingredients. He will be making his own sambals and sriracha.

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Scott Conant's Scarpetta to open in Beverly Hills in October


New York chef Scott Conant is expanding the Scarpetta empire to Beverly Hills this fall, with an expected October opening at the Montage Beverly Hills. The original Scarpetta, a rustic-meets-refined Italian restaurant on the edge of New York's meatpacking district, debuted two years ago. New branches have since opened in Miami and Toronto, and another is planned for Las Vegas this year. 

"It’s really exciting. I’ve been sitting on this for a long time," says Conant, a critics' favorite who hosts the Food Network's "24 Hour Restaurant Battle" and is the author of cookbooks "New Italian Cooking" and "Bold Italian." "I only want to open restaurants in places where I want to spend time. And the thing is, I think L.A. is one of the most exciting places in the country right now from a cuisine perspective. The produce and products in California really set the standard for the rest of the country." 

Conant says that 40% of the original Scarpetta menu works at his other locations, but the rest is open to creativity. Signature dishes include creamy polenta with "truffled mushrooms" that Frank Bruni of the New York Times described as "one of the best, most decadent things ever to happen to cornmeal"; raw yellowtail with ginger oil; and spaghetti with tomato and basil. The latter sounds prosaic, but some claim the $24 dish is the best spaghetti al pomodoro in New York. "The signature dishes seem to be things that resonate with people," Conant says.   

Scarpetta Beverly Hills will take over the space that houses the Montage's Parq restaurant (80 seats in the main dining room plus more in the bar and outdoor courtyard). Parq is expected to close next week, and the restaurant will get an "Old Hollywood-inspired" redesign from Gaia Studio (Tao Las Vegas, W Mexico City).  

Conant says he hasn't decided who will helm the kitchen but he likes the idea of co-chefs de cuisine. "Somebody within my company working with somebody local. I still have to work that out." 

225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 860-7800; www.montagebeverlyhills.com.

-- Betty Hallock 

Photo credit: Scarpetta


Singaporean restaurant Spice Table to open downtown

Spicetable2 Bryant Ng, a chef who helped open Pizzeria Mozza and has worked at Campanile as well as at Daniel in New York and La Folie in San Francisco, plans to open a Singaporean restaurant in downtown's Little Tokyo. Ng's Spice Table will take over the space that formerly housed Cuba Central on Central Avenue. 

"I’m an L.A. native of Singaporean heritage so I really wanted to open a restaurant that serves food that is influenced by the traditional cuisines of Singapore and Southeast Asia," Ng says.    

By day, the Spice Table will serve Southeast Asian-inspired sandwiches made with bread, charcuterie, pickles and other ingredients all made in-house. In the evening, Ng says he'll focus on satays and other grilled items from a wood-burning hearth. Other planned dishes include laksa (spicy noodle soup), stews, curries, noodles, vegetables, and Ng's version of Hainanese chicken rice, plus craft beers that pair well with the flavors of the food.

The restaurant, on Central Avenue between 1st and 2nd streets, is under construction. "It looks a bit like a fortress right now," he says of the 2,000-square-foot space adjacent to Weiland's Brewery. But he's planning to de-paint the exterior to expose the original brick and restore some windows. He expects to open in the late fall "if everything goes smoothly."

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Betty Hallock

Jose Andres heads to Vegas to open Jaleo ... and a Chexican restaurant


Jose Andres joins the list of chefs set to open restaurants at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The Deutsche Bank-owned hotel on the Strip is expected to finish construction in December (likely the last major casino-resort to open there for a few years).

Andres' ThinkFoodGroup plans to open the fourth outpost of his Spanish tapas bar Jaleo, as well as a restaurant that will feature his take on Chinese and Mexican cuisine. No details on the Chexican restaurant yet.

In March Cosmopolitan announced a lineup of planned restaurants that include modern brasserie Comme Ca by Los Angeles chef David Myers; New York City restaurateurs Bruce and Eric Bromberg's Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill; Scarpetta and a new casual wine bar by Scott Conant; Estiatorio Milos from Costas Spiliadis; and steakhouse STK from the One Group. Cosmopolitan Chief Executive John Unwin recently told the Associated Press that there would be 13 restaurants in the hotel-casino.

Myers of L.A. says that the Vegas Comme Ca will, fittingly, look onto the Paris hotel and will be designed by Adam D. Tihany (who has designed restaurants such as Per Se and Daniel in New York).

Andres, besides being chef-partner in several Washington, D.C.-area restaurants including Jaleo and Minibar, opened the Bazaar at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles in 2008.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Jose Andres. Credit: Joshua Reynolds / For the Los Angeles Times

Kuromame Coffee from Nori Sugie, chef and coffee roaster. Plus watch for Kuromame cafe.

Kuromame Noriyuki Sugie, consulting chef of Breadbar, has started roasting coffee under his own label -- Kuromame (which means black bean in Japanese). The coffee is available through his website, www.ironnori.com, in Italian dark roast, moderately dark roast espresso, medium roast and light roast.

"Roasting coffee is a natural extension for a chef interested in expanding his or her culinary skills," Sugie says. "The complexity of coffee's aroma, flavor and chemistry presents a great challenge and an exciting opportunity for creativity."

Sugie says he selects the highest grade of Arabica green beans that are currently roasted in Nevada, using the "kinetic function method" created by Reno-based roasting-equipment producer Agtron.  

"Roasting with a scientific approach is a lot like understanding the techniques for seasoning and cooking food," Sugie says. "Controlling the process based on the chemistry being developed makes an enormous difference in the end result."

Sugie says he would like to roast coffee in Los Angeles, "but it could be awhile before we can establish that." But, meanwhile, he is working on finding a place for Kuromame's first cafe. Stay tuned.

Kuromame Coffee, order at www.ironnori.com or e-mail chefnori@yahoo.com or call (646) 339-8886.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Betty Hallock

Chef shuffle: Steve Samson to exit Pizzeria Ortica


Steve Samson, the highly praised chef at David Myers' Orange County restaurant, Pizzeria Ortica, is leaving  to pursue his own project, the David Myers Group has announced. Samson, a former Valentino chef, has been at Ortica since it opened in spring 2009. In a review, Times critic S. Irene Virbila gave the restaurant 2 1/2 stars: "Samson is cooking Italian food that is more gutsy and accessible than you might remember when he was at the more formal Valentino." 

Samson's planned exit follows several departures within the David Myers Group in the last several months, including former Comme Ca executive chef Michael David at the end of last year.

A representative for the David Myers Group says the company is "actively looking for a replacement, and plans to open a Pizzeria Ortica in Los Angeles continue to move forward."

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Steve Samson at Pizzeria Ortica. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Hot girls on bikes: La Buca begins delivery (what would Mamma say?)


Mamma Cortivo is no longer behind the stoves at Osteria La Buca, so who's the new face of the Melrose Avenue Italian restaurant? It might just be the delivery girl. La Buca started delivery service this week, and women on motorcycles are toting chef Alberto Lazzarino's spaghetti aglio e olio, gnocchi alla boscaiola, pizza Margherita and tiramisu to neighbors and nearby studio workers. Lucky them.

Meanwhile, Mamma and her son Filippo Cortivo have opened Osteria Mamma down the street in the former Seafood Village space.

Osteria La Buca, 5210 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 462-1900, www.osterialabuca.com. Osteria Mamma, 5732 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 284-7060.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Stephen Sakulsky

Sona restaurant to close in May and reopen in a new location next year, says chef David Myers


Chef David Myers has announced that Sona, his Michelin one-star restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard, will close in May and reopen in a new location in 2011. Myers said contracts are being finalized for the new Sona space but would not reveal the location or details about the restaurant other than that he is working with designer Adam Tihany.

“Our lease is coming up here this year, and we have an opportunity to re-create, to do something new,” Myers said.

The announcement that Sona, which opened in 2002, is closing and then relocating comes about six months after Myers’ former partners pulled out of the fine-dining business. In September, Myers launched management company David Myers Group with new partners. Myers said the decision to move Sona was not directly related to the management upheaval or to the sour economy. “It was a new opportunity,” he repeated. “Companies evolve, restaurants evolve. Sona has always been about trying new things.”

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Chef Laurent Tourondel leaves BLT Restaurant Group


Laurent Tourondel and his partner at BLT Restaurant Group have split. The company announced in a release that Tourondel is no longer involved in its wholly owned restaurants BLT Steak, Fish, Prime and Burger in New York City; BLT Steak in Los Angeles; and BLT Steak in Washington, D.C. They're part of the restaurant empire built on a concept of Americanized French cooking to which Tourondel lends his name (BLT stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel).

“This has been a great run for me,” he says in the release.  “I am looking forward to staying involved in a handful of BLT restaurants while pursuing other culinary projects and new opportunities.”

The release said that Tourondel continues to oversee kitchen operations for all management license properties including 10 restaurants around the world in destinations such as Miami, Las Vegas, Scottsdale, Ariz., Atlanta, Honolulu and Hong Kong.

At BLT Steak in Los Angeles, which opened in late 2007, Brian Moyers' new title is executive chef. 

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times.


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.