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Vegetables take center stage at soon-to-open Wallace in Culver City

The Wallace, a new restaurant by former SBE corporate chef Michael Teich, is slated to open Nov. 30 on Main Street in Culver City. Teich, also formerly at Axe in Venice, will focus on seasonal California cuisine that highlights local produce -- think sprouting broccoli, market greens and salt-roasted beets.

The menu is broken up into separate sections: "jarred," including rillettes and caramelized onion and blue cheese dip; "cured" cheese and meats; "vegetable" -- wild mushroom ragout and fried sweet potatoes, for example; "sea," with oysters, mussels, salmon and more; and "land" listing meat dishes such as charred lamb shoulder and fried Mary's chicken. Most of the dishes from the jarred and cured sections, served on wooden boards, are meant to be shared.

"The idea is for this to be playful food," Teich said. "You put it in the middle of the table and everyone can grab and share and eat it as you choose." 

The vegetable portion is the largest section of the menu, and Teich proudly names the farmer of each item. He says having dishes for vegetarians and vegans is a priority. 

Dishes include sprouting broccoli with tahini; marinated feta and dukkah; shishito peppers with edamame, miso, lime and sesame seeds; and roasted carrots, which are sous vide in carrot juice and served with parsnips, cumin, honey, soy and garnished with carrot top greens.

"It's all stuff you would find in season at the farmers market," Teich said. "There are really only so many things you can do with a steak."

But there is steak on the menu in the form of a grilled hanger steak with shoestring fries, watercress and charmoula. The fried chicken comes with a roasted vegetable panzanella and romesco sauce, while the braised Duroc pork cheeks are served with mustard greens, lentils and red onion agrodolce. 

For the sea portion of the menu, Teich says he plans to use only seafood that is approved as "safe and sustainable" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Dishes include roasted scallops with butternut squash puree, grilled radicchio, balsamic brown butter and prosciutto chips and a shrimp and chickpea pancake with leeks, pickled peppers and harissa aioli. Dishes will range from $5 to $20. 

Beverage director Holly Zack created a playful cocktail list that includes the Morning Sex made with bourbon, chai fennel syrup, passion fruit, lemon and Peychaud's and the Dream Catcher with vodka, ginger, yellow chartreuse and lemon. Carol Teich, Michael's wife, who will run front of the house operations and is a certified sommelier, put together the wine list. There are also house-made sodas, bottled beer, a couple on tap and the restaurant will feature Vivreau flat and sparkling water for $1, with all water sale proceeds going to benefit a local charity. 

The space, which was previously occupied by the Brazilian barbecue house Libra, has undergone a complete makeover by Heads Above Water. There is a patio area out front, and large floor-to-ceiling windows allow a full view into the restaurant from the sidewalk. The front area features long communal tables made of wood and the tall wood and metal chairs that are featured in the restaurant's logo. The bar area seats 13 while the main dining room seats 50 and features shorter wooden tables, a plush banquette and a white wall of framed photos.  

And who exactly is Wallace? "It's just a name we liked, that really fit the space," said Carol Teich. 

The restaurant will be open seven nights a week for dinner from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., and the bar will be open until midnight. Weekend brunch service is expected to start in January; lunch will follow.

3833 Main St., Culver City, CA 90232, (310) 202-6400, thewallacela.com.

Want to find out about new restaurants before your friends? Follow me on Twitter: @Jenn_Harris_

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[This post has been updated Nov. 19 at 8:22 a.m. to include an updated opening date and business hours.]

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