First Look

Winsome, the new restaurant at the Elysian in Echo Park, opens Monday

Winsome, the new restaurant at the Elysian in Echo Park, the Metropolitan-Water-District-turned-apartment-building that towers above Sunset Boulevard just west of Chinatown, is scheduled to open Monday. Restaurant owners Marc Rose and Med Abrous, the duo behind the Spare Room, are hoping Winsome will be the area's next neighborhood restaurant. 

"The idea of a neighborhood restaurant is very natural to us," said Rose. "In New York City, you'd go to the same place for breakfast, or on a date, dinner with your mom, somewhere to go when you were hungover. We want people to come here not only three times a week, but three times a day." 

Rose and Abrous say they tasked executive chef Jeremy Strubel, formerly of Rustic Canyon, with creating a menu that was approachable in both flavors and price point. 

"It's definitely L.A. cuisine, focused on all the great products we have here, and all the diversities we have in the kinds of food," said Strubel.  

Menu highlights include a shaved cauliflower salad with mustard frills, Lola Rosa lettuce, lime, Parmesan, Braggs natural yeast, toasted cauliflower and sprouts; maitake mushrooms with sauteed greens, tarragon breadcrumbs and burnt lemon aioli; a speck and comte grilled cheese with brioche, nepitella (an Italian herb) and mostarda; baby carrots and root vegetables and cilantro labneh; and a charred escarole and chicken soup with black garlic and an aromatic broth, inspired by a soup served at the chef's family holiday get-togethers. 

For breakfast, rosti potatoes three ways, including one with house-made corned beef; and buckwheat and semolina pancakes. 

Making all the breads for the restaurant, and supplying the front bakery case with a slew of pastries is pastry chef Leslie Mialma, formerly of Republique. What's she currently working on? Brioche tarts, spelt blueberry muffins, Meyer lemon pies, quiche, brown butter chocolate chip cookies, buckwheat oatmeal cookies with candied ginger, 100% rye brownies, macha conchas, curry pies and kaiser rolls. 

The 75-seat restaurant was designed by L.A.-based firm Wendy Haworth Design, which also designed Gracias Madre and Cafe Gratitude, and Rose and Abrous. There's an open kitchen and bar, with plenty of counter seating, and large windows that span the length of the restaurant. The restaurant also features Pullman booths along the windows, a large patio seating area outside and a small dining room in the back with custom wallpaper depicting artist Phil Dike's 1938 watercolor Sunshine in Echo Park. (Rose says it took him three and a half months to secure the rights to the painting and have the wallpaper made.)

The restaurant's logo, designed by Claire Oswalt, is a peacock. It's meant to be an homage to the wild peacocks found roaming the neighborhood. 

In addition to a coffee bar area at the front, which will feature La Colombe coffee, there's a small retail space featuring items Rose and Abrous plan on switching up, based on the needs of the community, and the needs of the residents upstairs. You may find pasta one day, tea another, or jam by a local artisan. 

Winsome will open for breakfast and lunch, with dinner service to follow shortly after. There are also plans to turn the area just off the entrance into a walk-up window, where people can order coffee drinks, pastries and sandwiches to-go. 

"We want to encourage people to spend time here, walk up or ride their bikes up," said Abrous. "We really just want to build an idea of community." 

And one of the best features of the restaurant happens to comes with the location. Rose says every day in the early evening, you can see the sun set over the hill southwest of the restaurant, that leads into the Angelino Heights area. That, and there's plenty of street parking. 

1115 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, www.eatwinsome.com

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