Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Restaurant Closing

All things Steven Arroyo: The original Cobras & Matadors gets a new menu and a facelift, Potato Chips stays open late, Umami burger nears completion

Steven-Arroyo

Now that Steven Arroyo's Cobras & Matadors on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Feliz has closed in order to transform into another outpost of Umami Burger (with a bar!), the flagship location on Beverly Boulevard is the only C&M left. However, Arroyo, one of L.A.'s most prolific and restless restaurateurs, wants to shake that up too. So he's teamed up with former Violet chef/owner Jared Simons ("They are like long-lost brothers," says a rep for Arroyo) to remake the menu and redesign the interior.

The new menu strays from the classic tapas offerings the restaurant built its reputation on, not because it was a failing formula but because Arroyo is looking to "evolve it, make it fresher, lighter, more value-oriented." To that end you'll find an array of small plates (some with Spanish influences), including a summer salad with cucumbers, tomato and feta; pan-roasted whitefish with white beans and watercress; and golden beets and watermelon with blue cheese.

Arroyo is redoing the interior and expects to be done with it in a couple of weeks. Changes include "a new subway-tiled bar that seats six around the wood-burning oven, which is being resurfaced with mosaic tile" as well as "new tables and banquettes in the dining room and white walls darkened with vintage textured wallpaper," says a rep for Arroyo.

In other Arroyo-related news, Potato Chips (located next door to Cobras & Matadors) is no longer closing at 6 p.m. It's staying open until 11 p.m. with a menu of tacos and burritos created by Simons.

Finally, the Umami Burger mentioned above (in which Arroyo has a 50-50 partnership with Umami owner Adam Fleischman) is tentatively scheduled for a Sept. 6 opening.

--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Steven Arroyo inside the now-closed Cobras & Matadors on Hollywood Blvd. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / Los Angeles Times

Sampler Platter: Novel Cafe expected to close, advice to Starbucks, sugar prices shoot up

A fisherman slaughters a Baird's beaked whale at Wada Port, Japan. Dating back from the 16th century, coastal whaling is a tradition in Japan and Wada is one of the last ports where fishermen hunt in Japanese waters. Credit: Franck ROBICHON / EPA

Whale meat, pizza, goofy names for otherwise reasonable dishes and a giant tuna lead today's roundup of food news.

  • Detroit's Peaches & Greens produce truck encourages healthful eating. NPR
  • Top chefs pick their favorite fast food. Esquire
  • There's a big, delicious rumor that N.Y.C.'s Magnolia Bakery might come to West 3rd Street. And it's a fact that D’Amore’s Pizza is open and serving late-night slices in the area. Blackburn + Sweetzer
  • A beautiful ode to whale meat. YouTube
  • Novel Cafe on Pier Avenue in Santa Monica will likely close. LA Observed
  • Sugar prices shoot to 28-year highs, on shortage fears. Los Angeles Times
  • Seven restaurant dishes that are too embarrassing to order by name. Consumerist
  • Calgary, Canada, restaurant pays $25K for giant tuna. CBC
  • Advice to Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz from someone who actually works there. Fortune

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: A fisherman slaughters a Baird's beaked whale at Wada Port, Japan. Dating back to the 16th century, coastal whaling is a tradition in Japan, and Wada is one of the last ports where fishermen hunt in Japanese waters. Credit: Franck Robichon / EPA

The Tasting Kitchen, the restaurant formerly known as AK

Ak

The Tasting Kitchen is open in the space that housed the very-recently-defunct AK. Instead of closing to retool, the restaurant is embracing the transition. The restaurateurs are calling it "a transparent culinary case study" (what others might call quick-change artistry). 

Over the next eight weeks, as new chef Casey Lane (a veteran of Clarklewis restaurant in Portland, Ore.) trains staff and tweaks the menu and the restaurant undergoes design "modifications," the kitchen and dining room will remain open. An interim menu of eight to 10 choices will change daily. The restaurant will emerge with a new menu, new look and new name in the fall. 1633 Abbott Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 392-6644, www.thetastingkitchen.com 

-- Betty Hallock

Photo of AK by Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

Small Bites: AK to close; Social Hollywood sans Giraud; Vermont's 'new' chef

Vermont

AK no longer: Chef Conny Andersson announced that AK Restaurant + Bar will be closing Saturday, June 20, because of "creative differences" with his financial partners. The Swedish-inflected Venice restaurant opened last November. It will continue to operate under a different name and menu, according to a release from Andersson, who says he is currently searching for a new L.A. location for AK (but didn't it stand for Abbot Kinney?). 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 392-6644, www.akinvenice.com.

No Giraud at Social Hollywood: Jeffrey Chodorow's China Grill Management says Alain Giraud, chef-partner at Anisette in Santa Monica, will not be involved in the restaurant at Social Hollywood. When chef Michel Richard left the location, he had asked Giraud to take over the restaurant as a consulting chef. At the time, Giraud said he was negotiating an agreement with China Grill Management (which also operates Asia de Cuba among other restaurants) and was planning on designing new menus. Apparently, those negotiations fell through (Squid Ink reports that "Giraud's stress level went up"). “While we believed that Alain Giraud was an ideal match for the banquet side of Social Hollywood, this was not the time for this collaboration," said general manager Joseph Ojeda. Social Hollywood is exploring "a number of other options." Meanwhile, the Bar at Social Hollywood is open Thursday to Saturday. 6525 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 337-9797, www.citrusatsocial.com   

Vermont taps OG chef: Now that restaurateurs Wayne Elias and Chris Diamond have closed Mark's in West Hollywood and moved to Vermont restaurant in Los Feliz, expect menu changes on June 29, when executive chef Stephane Beaucamp returns to the kitchen. Beaucamp was formerly Vermont’s executive chef; the restaurant's most recent chef, Laurent Quenioux, is setting up Bistro LQ in the old Mimosa space on Beverly Boulevard. Beaucamp already has rolled out "Lobster Bake" on Wednesdays. He'll also continue “Dish It Out Mondays,” a specially priced menu that was a Mark’s tradition. 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 661-6163, www.vermontrestaurantonline.com

Valentino in Houston: Restaurateur Piero Selvaggio plans to open PS Valentino Vin Bar at the Hotel Derek in Houston this fall. It's an expansion of the primi concept he installed at his flagship Santa Monica restaurant Valentino -- small plates with an extensive list of wines by the glass.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo courtesy of Vermont restaurant

English villagers try to save struggling pubs

English pub

Reporting from Kentisbeare, England -- Money woes brought on by regulations, taxes and competition force many beloved taverns in the countryside to close their doors. But locals in a few spots have managed to keep the ale flowing. Read more here.

Photo: Bridget Jones / Associated Press

Pastis closing, House opening on Beverly Blvd.

Photo: An omelet with truffles from Pastis. Credit: Bob Carey / Los Angeles Times.Is Beverly Boulevard the new downtown L.A. when it comes to restaurant turnover? Hot on the heels of the news that Mimosa (8009 Beverly Blvd.) will be replaced by chef Laurent Quenioux's Bistro LQ in mid-July comes word that French restaurant Pastis (8114 Beverly Blvd.) will close its doors the first or second week of June. Pastis will reopen under new owners, probably in mid-August, as a cafe called House. More details to come.

Pastis owner Steven Kim tells me it's simply a matter of economics: Business has slowed to a crawl. Kim hasn't decided whether he'll stay in the restaurant business and says he has no set plans for the future.

That's two Beverly Boulevard stalwarts down in a matter of months. It's hardly a pattern ... yet. But you know what they say: One is a fluke, two is a coincidence, three is a trend.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Omelet with truffles at Pastis. Credit: Bob Carey / Los Angeles Times.

Hatfield's plans to move into Red Pearl space


Hatfields

Now that Red Pearl Kitchen has closed, the question is: Who will be moving in? It's the Hatfield's duo, Quinn and Karen Hatfield.

"We're in the process of selling our space and moving," says Karen Hatfield, co-owner and pastry chef. "We wanted to expand to a larger space and take Hatfield's to the next level, with a larger restaurant, larger menu, lunch and dinner, seven days. We were trying to find ourselves a home for the next 20 years."

For months the word on the street has been that the Hatfields have been looking for a larger venue and had been eyeing the Red Pearl location on the corner of Melrose and Citrus avenues. The restaurant was orginally Michel Richard's Citrus and was then home to Alex Scrimgeour's Alex, followed by Meson G, brought to us by Tim and Liza Goodell. After a couple of years (and a couple of chefs), the Goodells in 2006 turned Meson G into Red Pearl Kitchen, part of their mini-chain of pan-Asian restaurants. It opened with eye-candy valets, who seemed to disappear after it was apparent they weren't helping to draw diners, and a new bright-bright-bright red exterior. (How many coats of paint will it take to cover that?)

The Hatfields moved to L.A. from San Francisco in '06 and settled into the location on Beverly Boulevard, a fewer-than-50-seat restaurant where Quinn Hatfield oversees a focused market-driven menu and Karen Hatfield creates the desserts. The Red Pearl Kitchen space can seat more than 100. 

"It was good for us to start small," Karen Hatfield says. "We've learned everything and we've got it down. It's charming and a lot of people felt that. We'll definitely be trying to maintain that level of intimacy and charm" in the new location. A summer opening is planned. 

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Karen and Quinn Hatfield. Credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times

Small Bites: Lakers burgers at BLT Steak, BistroLQ to open

BltburgerRoot, root, root for the home team: You have at least until Sunday to try chef Laurent Tourondel's signature BLT Burger -- longer if the Lakers win their do-or-die seventh game against the Houston Rockets (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Staples Center). As long as the Lakers stay in the playoffs, BLT Steak will offer its $17 Kobe burger made from (what else?) American Kobe beef and topped with caramelized onions and Gruyere. Or perhaps you'd prefer the slightly less spendy ($14) Jackson burger made with ground prime beef and topped with bacon and cheddar. BLT Steak: 8720 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 360-1950, www.bltsteak.com.

One bistro closes, another opens: Chef Laurent Quenioux, who recently closed Bistro K in Pasadena to look for larger, better-equipped digs, will open his new restaurant, BistroLQ, on Beverly Boulevard near Fairfax sometime in mid-July. The new space will offer a mix of indoor-outdoor dining, and the menu will include an eclectic mix of Quenioux standards like lamb, wild hare and, perhaps, partridge, as well as oddball dishes such as sea urchin tapioca pudding with yuzu kocho, and eel braised in red wine and served with dried plum and chanterelle grits. More details to come.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo credit: BLT Steak

(Not So) Small Bites: Ludo returns; Matt Accarrino exits Craft; La Cachette to close

Ludobites Craft departures: Chef de cuisine Matt Accarrino and pastry chef Catherine Schimenti have left Craft. Craft general manager Adam Rosenbaum said the couple "left to pursue other opportunities." Accarrino had been steering Tom Colicchio's kitchen since the Century City restaurant opened in the CAA building in the summer of '07. Craft L.A. received three stars from Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila. A yet-to-be-announced chef is expected to start the first week of June, says Rosenbaum. Pastry chef Shannon Swindle, from Craft Dallas, now is working on desserts. "It was time to move on to do something different, maybe something that's more our style," says Accarrino, who noted that he would like to continue to work in a kitchen with Schimenti. "For now, we're enjoying a break." 

Ludo's back: LudoBites returns to Breadbar on 3rd Street, featuring guest chef Ludovic Lefebvre, from May 19 to Aug. 22, available Tuesday through Saturday from 6 p.m. Guests will be able to choose from a rotating menu of three appetizers, three entrees and two desserts or entrees. Some of what to expect: squid ink "crepe" with chorizo, egg, ham and cheese; rare tuna with pink beets, red berries and smoked vinegar; lobster gazpacho with Parmesan marshmallow and exotic fruits; and braised lamb with black curry, ratatouille and harissa. 8718 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (310) 205-0124, www.breadbar.net

Open-shut case: Jean Francois Meteigner, chef-owner of La Cachette, will be closing the restaurant on July 31. The space will be open for private events only. As reported earlier, Meteigner, along with his wife-partner, Allie Ko Meteigner, will also open the new La Cachette Bistro in Santa Monica on Aug. 1."La  Cachette has had a wonderful run and been good to us, as have our clients," said Jean Francois Meteigner in a statement. "But I am very excited about the bistro and feel it is the right time, place and concept.”
 
-- Betty Hallock

Photo: LudoBites at Breadbar; credit: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times

Sampler Platter: Caroline on Crack's L.A. 'bucket list,' cheap beer & freebies

Left: Dinner at downtown restaurant Church & State. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times. Right: Miller Genuine Draft and Olde English 800. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.

If you had it to do all over again, where would you eat, drink, dance and visit in Los Angeles? Caroline on Crack has posted a subjective and most excellent list (I'd argue that the subjectivity of "best of" lists is what makes them so intriguing) of what to do in Los Angeles before you die. What's on your list?

  • From sauerkraut cocktails at Copa d'Oro to roasted bone marrow at Church & State to taro ice cream at Fosselman’s, Caroline on Crack posts her list of 100 Things To Try in L.A. Before You Die.
  • Two Fullerton college students have joined forces to launch ThriftyBeer.com: You input your city or neighborhood and it outputs the top 10 locations that sell cheap beer (with a Google map too). LAist
  • McDonald's dollar menu vs. KFC's ultimate value menu vs. Taco Bell's beef-and-cheese volcanoes: which fast-food value items are worth the money? Salon
  • The planned Whole Foods at Selma and Vine is on hold until the market takes a better turn. Racked LA 
  • Sinosoul ponders the morality of freebies while sipping free beer and eating free sliders at newly opened Pasadena brewpub. Brix 42
  • La Cachette will close when La Cachette Bistro opens at the end of July. Eater LA

-- Elina Shatkin

Photos, from left: Dinner at the downtown restaurant Church & State. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times. Right: Miller Genuine Draft and Olde English 800. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.