With Good Friday, Easter, Pesach and other important dates in the Judeo-Christian calendar, it seemed appropriate to review Redbird, Neal Fraser’s new restaurant in the rectory of the deconsecrated St. Vibiana Cathedral in downtown L.A. The view of the gently lighted nave from the open-air dining room is nearly as awe-inspiring (in a secular way, of course) as chef Neal Fraser’s posole. We also visit the Lenten Mexican dessert capirotada, the things in bowls at Kaya Street Kitchen and a place to try migas, which you can think of as the Tex-Mex answer to matzo brei.
And be on the lookout for Wednesday's In the Kitchen newsletter, with cooking tips and news, including new recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen.
A restaurant in a deconsecrated cathedral
This week, Jonathan Gold checks out Redbird, chef Neal Fraser's latest restaurant, at Vibiana, a few blocks from City Hall in downtown L.A. Redbird — a reference to the cardinal who once lived in Vibiana's rectory — is the spiritual, so to speak, successor to Grace, the restaurant Fraser closed in 2010. There's a decidedly Fraser-esque menu, a swank bar and an outdoor patio — with a retractable roof.
Migas for homesick Texans, and the rest of us
Recently returned from a week at SXSW in Austin, and thus with a newfound love of breakfast tacos, Jonathan checks out HomeState in Los Feliz, a small storefront that specializes in Central Texas-style tacos, queso and Frito pie. There he finds a comforting plate of migas, a dish surprisingly difficult to locate in this town.
An Asian Chipotle
Jenn Harris goes to Kaya Street Kitchen on Fairfax Avenue in the Beverly Grove neighborhood, where you can build your own bowls — because it is the era, as Jonathan mentioned in last week's review, of Things in a Bowl. Into the bowls go ingredients inspired by the flavors of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. If bowls aren't your thing, there are tacos — and Kaya toast.
Mexican burger joint in DTLA
Last week, chefs Daniel Snukal and Josh Gil — who between them have cooked at Joe's Restaurant, Urasawa and LudoBites — opened a tiny burger stand in downtown L.A. Amy Scattergood visits Hamburguesas Punta Cabras, named for a Baja surfing spot they love, where the pair are serving burgers cooked on a flat top, fries covered in chorizo-cheese sauce and not too much else.
Where to find bread pudding for Easter
Capirotada sounds a lot more lyrical than bread pudding, but that's what it is — a homey Mexican bread pudding that shows up in restaurants this time of year. It's built with stale bread and often with syrup and spices, but what exactly goes into a good pudding can be almost anything. Chefs Ramiro Arvizu and Jaime Martin Del Campo have taken it off what was a kind of secret menu and made it available to those who don't know to ask for it at La Casita Mexicana and their recently opened Mexicano in Baldwin Hills. Get it while you can.
Notes from the food and drink underworld
Because it may be spring or even winter elsewhere, but it's always summer in Southern California, S. Irene Virbila checks out three rose wines terrific for warm weather.
Two local chefs won this year's Food & Wine Best New Chefs award: Ori Menashe of the downtown Italian restaurant Bestia and Carlos Salgado of Costa Mesa’s tasting-menu restaurant Taco Maria. As if getting a reservation at Bestia weren't hard enough already.
Chef Walter Manzke of Republique won this year's L.A. edition of Cochon 555, the traveling pork festival devoted to the celebration of heritage pigs.
P.S. be on the lookout for Wednesday's In the Kitchen newsletter, with cooking tips and news, including new recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen.
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