Name of restaurant: Ceremony. The restaurant opened May 1 in Studio City.
Chef: Owner and chef Frank Leon also owns La Loggia — which shares a wall with Ceremony — and the Village.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The El Jefe sandwich (Leon, a Cuban American, was inspired by the movie "Chef"), made with leg of pork that's marinated overnight in a Cuban mojo. It's cooked low and slow, then pressed between Homeboy Bakery sourdough bread. It may not be a classic Cubano, but it's a deliciously, porky grilled cheese all the same.
Runners-up: Keeping with the "Chef" theme, Ceremony also serves a chocolate volcano cake. It's kitschy, gooey and comforting, even if you've never heard of chef Carl Casper. Stopping in for a quick bite and a drink at the bar? Hearty tacos are priced from $2 to $4 each.
Concept: Mexican with European influences. There's a restored and refitted 1969 VW Kombi bus located near the entry and the room is filled with colorful lanterns that give it a party patio sort of feel. The VW isn't just a prop — there are actual cooks in the bus prepping and cooking tacos.
To the right there's a larger room with a full bar and cozy table seating. Matty Taylor, head barman at the Village, was inspired to create the new cocktail menu after a visit to Tulum, Mexico.
The spacious bar area features an open wall looking onto Ventura Boulevard. Artwork includes Dia de los Muertos murals and graffiti, while two enormous, spinning, metal balls drop down from the high ceiling. Designed by Castellani & Smith in Italy, Leon first saw them at the Barajas airport in Madrid and had them shipped to Studio City.
Who's at the next table: Several couples enjoying happy hour. The bar is crowded by 8 p.m.
Appropriate for: Couples, groups and families. Ceremony is also open for lunch during the week and brunch on the weekends.
Problematic: Some of the oversized plates were a bit too large for the bar tables, especially when multiple dishes were brought out at the same time. Bistec con huevos rancheros (fried egg and steak) arrived on a cute, cow-shaped, flat, cutting board. It was tasty, but a rush to catch the runny yolk (to keep it from dripping onto the table) made for a frenzied eating experience.
Service: Very friendly.
What you're drinking: A refreshing Mexican Mule made with Patrón Añejo, agave, lime, mint, Patrón Citrónge and ginger beer.