Chef Xiomara Ardolina, who became known for her thoughtful Cuban-influenced nuevo Latino cooking with her eponymous restaurant on Melrose, has decided to step out of the kitchen and into the front of the house.
She has also brought in a young chef named Michael Reed as executive chef. Reed is a veteran of both Sona and Osteria Mozza, and he is helping to transform the menu into one that features fresh, market-driven California cuisine rather than Latin food.
Reed was raised in a farming community in Ventura and has a great deal of knowledge about a farm-to-table approach to cooking. In an e-mail, Ardolina said she felt that the time was right to make a change, especially given the public's increased awareness about the importance of sustainability, and the increasing prevalence of farmers markets in Los Angeles, with their diverse selections of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Ardolina said she is excited about the direction Reed is taking the menu and wrote, "Michael is doing a wonderful California Cuisine utilizing organic produce and using the local farmers markets for getting the freshest ingredients."
In addition to Reed, Ardolina has brought in two other young chefs, Brandon Furlow as chef de cuisine and Bobbi Jo Shapiro as pastry chef.
The new menu includes intricate small plates, salads, sandwiches and main courses including crispy pork belly with roasted Jerusalem artichoke, smoky eggplant puree, crispy kale and pork jus; roasted beets with lamb's lettuce, candied walnuts, goat cheese and anise seed vinaigrette; seared pork chop with soft goat cheese polenta, braised kale, sous vide onion, pancetta and pork jus; house-made tagliatelle with Bolonese sauce, basil and parmesan cheese; and beer-battered tiger prawns with jalapeno, roasted red pepper puree and garlic aoili.
This isn't the first time Ardolina has shaken her restaurant up. In 1996, she switched her menu from French-style fine dining to the nuevo Latino cuisine that she helped define for Los Angeles. Xiomara on Melrose, 6101 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles (323) 461-0601; www.xiomararestaurant.com
-- Jessica Gelt
Photo: Xiomara Ardolina. Credit: Xiomara Ardolina