The sun was barely setting over Koreatown, but on the second-story roof deck of the Line Hotel nobody was in the pool. That's because everyone had flocked to the adjacent greenhouse, which now houses Commissary, the latest Roy Choi restaurant in a series of them inside the hotel (Pot, Pot Lobby Bar, Pot Cafe).
Thursday was Commissary's first official opening night, and in short there's no other place like it in Los Angeles -- an all-glass restaurant with a view of the surrounding Koreatown office buildings, next to a hotel pool, and filled with hanging plants, fig trees, potted shrubs and vines, light streaming in from everywhere.
Designer Sean Knibb outfitted the space with wooden communal tables and grey-topped round tables and lots of spindly Vogel chairs. An eight-seat bar features a wall of wooden crates and faux driftwood light feature. A garden hose hangs from the end of the bar.
On Thursday evening the Matthew Biancaniello-created cocktails (some of them served in deli storage cups) were flowing. For example: the Pimp's Cup with rhubarb, shiso, cucumber and ginger, or the Tomato and Okra with cachaca, green zebra heirloom tomato and lovage. Gin and juice can be prepared with beet, watermelon, apple, pineapple or carrot juice. Specialty cocktails are $13 each; gin and juice, $12 ($6 without the alcohol).
Commissary is a vegetable-focused restaurant, and there are plenty of vegetable dishes, but the meat isn't downplayed, either: There's steak, schnitzel, French dip, scallops, black bass and more.
Just don't drink too many cocktails before you order your food (if you're more than buzzed, all is lost). Because you'll need to concentrate. The menu is printed on two separate cards, one with illustrations of vegetables and meats such as kale, radish, eggs, fish, steak and pasta. These are lettered, and underneath each menu category (divided by price -- $15, $20, etc.) corresponding letters tell you what each drawing is (in case you can't tell, say, a radish from a beet).
There is also a legend on the second card, where you have to look up the letter that represents each illustration to find out how each dish is prepared. The steak is "grilled ribeye, A1, poblano, brown sauce," for example. A separate glossary on the second card also provides a guide to the sauces: Green sauce is garlic, brown sauce is chiles and soy, etc. It is a lot of cross-referencing. But if any diners were thwarted on opening night, they didn't show it.
Craig Thornton, chef of the Wolvesmouth pop-up, had stopped by to check out the space. "I just wanted to see it. I would kill for something like this. Plants everywhere, that's all I want, plants everywhere."
Unlike Pot, Commissary takes reservations, and it eventually will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
3515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, www.eatatpot.com.
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