Whenever I used to get a hankering for smoked fish, I'd indulge myself at Barney Greengrass at Barneys in Beverly Hills with smoked sturgeon, sable and Nova salmon. Now that the New York deli has retreated home, where else could I find some great smoked fish? Pétrossian, of course, is a classic, but I also found two new places that do a great job with trout, salmon and more.
Last week, checking out Pete's Cafe for lunch, I ordered smoked trout as an appetizer from the menu, which as been revised by Josef Centeno, who has Bäco Mercat down the block. You never know quite what to expect when you order smoked trout. But Centeno's dish was simply terrific: a generous scoop of moist, slivered smoked trout mixed with capers, red onions, chives — and lumps of flavorful butter. Just the thing to spread on thick-cut triangles of warm toast and even better with a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne rosé. It's generous enough to share or to make lunch for one.
400 S. Main St. (at 4th Street), downtown Los Angeles, (213) 687-7015, http://www.peteslosangeles.com; smoked trout, $12.
Ready, set, go. The strategy at this already wildly popular new bakery and cafe from the Gjelina folks is to quickly peruse the long stretch counter. What do you want? Everything. A baklava croissant, a slice of dreamy banana cream pie. Move on down to the smoked fish counter, where you can find oil-cured Japanese sardines, gravlax, smoked trout and pickled herring. You can order some on a plate with bread on the side. But my vote goes to the bialy with smoked cream cheese and house-cured lox or an open-face sandwich of those Japanese sardines on seeded rye.
320 Sunset Ave., Venice, (310) 314-0320. Smoked fish, up to $40 per pound; smoked fish sandwiches, $8.50 to $12.
There's something so inviting about this little bit of Paris in West Hollywood, a light-drenched cafe where you can indulge in caviar and satiny smoked salmon. (The Russian-born brothers actually built the first salmon smokehouse in France.) At brunch, have chef Giselle Wellman's smoked salmon scrambled eggs or smoked salmon flatbread. The tsar-cut salmon trio features a tasting of the buttery classic, Black Sea spiced and dill-marinated salmon. But Pétrossian's deservedly famed smoked salmon is also included in the smoked fish platter and subtly flavors the salmon rillettes. Drop by at happy hour, 4-7 p.m. weekdays, when smoked salmon and Champagne for two is $29.