Mad for midnight dining
FOILED again after the hostess at your favorite restaurant tells you the kitchen’s closed -- and it’s only 10 p.m.?
Frustrated that you can’t get a Taleggio and short rib grilled cheese at 11:30? Hungry at midnight and can’t find a three-tiered shellfish platter of oysters, clams and lobster to save your life?
If you were in New York, you could be digging into a Cuban sandwich at Schiller’s at 1 a.m. -- or steak tartare at Employees Only or a roast duck club with sweet potato fries at Blue Ribbon.
No need to pine anymore. Closing time at more and more restaurants around town is getting later -- sometimes a lot later.
Fraiche opened in Culver City just two weeks ago, and owner Jason Travi envisions it as a late-night spot where chefs can gather after work.
The bar menu is offered until midnight most nights, and the plan is to stay open as late as 2 a.m. if the people come. “All my friends are chefs. There are not that many places to go and eat when you get out of work at 11.”
Travi’s bar menu includes shellfish platters with raw oysters on ice as well as chilled clams, calamari, mussels and lobster, accompanied by a quartet of sauces. He also has meatball sliders (meatballs tucked into house-made gougeres) as well as Gruyere and Fontina fondue served in heated copper pots with green apples and toasted bread.
Eric Greenspan, the former Patina/Meson G chef who just opened the Foundry on Melrose, is keeping the restaurant open until midnight Thursdays and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights as part of a plan to deliver “an entire entertainment experience.”
Which is also why a pianist plays most nights in the restaurant and why he’s inked a deal with former Fishbone band member Christopher Dowd to perform until closing most Thursdays through Saturdays. (The jazz trio’s first appearance is expected to be May 17.)
“I wanted to capture that swanky, modern-day Cotton Club feel,” the chef says.
What’s there to eat? Lobster and Yukon gold pierogi with lemon creme fraiche, Taleggio and short rib grilled cheese, and a chopped salad with root vegetables, currants, pistachios and speck.
Others are revving up the late-night options. Five-month-old Celadon this week is introducing a short but sweet late-night menu -- tempura shrimp, hummus with pickled chiles and crispy onions -- available from after 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Table 8 just started L8 at Table 8: From 10 p.m. until closing, diners seated in the lounge can choose from a menu of small plates such as fried olives stuffed with chorizo and grilled shrimp with Meyer lemon and avocado relish. Red Pearl Kitchen recently began a late-night happy hour with discounted fruity cocktails, pot stickers, spring rolls and salt-and-pepper shrimp. Eleven, the 3-month-old restaurant and nightclub in West Hollywood, has a menu of 11 items available until 1:30 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
And Tokyo Table on La Cienega Boulevard, Caffe Primo on the Sunset Strip and Mozza on Highland Avenue (still the hottest reservation in town) all serve their entire menus until midnight most nights.
Even the health-conscious set will soon have a late-night spot to call its own. Lift, a modern American cafe and bar, is expected to open in June in the Hillview apartment complex in the heart of Hollywood. Chef Keith Silverton will be doing ahi and veggie burgers, salads and fresh juices enhanced with ingredients such as bee pollen and Goatein (a protein derived from goat’s milk).
For the first couple of weeks of business, operating hours will be 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. But the long-term plan is to be open 22 hours a day. Between 4 and 6 a.m., those overcome with a craving for Silverton’s signature “air fries,” which are baked instead of deep-fried, will have to look elsewhere.
* Downtowners have a new pizza joint. Los Angeles Pizza Co., which does slices and whole pies (the “Chavez Ravine” has garlic, pesto, goat cheese, artichoke and mushrooms), opened recently near Sunset and Figueroa. There are empanadas too. Among the quartet of partners is Jean-Louis De Mori, who also owns Locanda Veneta and the Third Stop.
Los Angeles Pizza Co., 712 N. Figueroa St., L.A., (213) 626-5272.
* First-time restaurateur Ryan Afromsky opens Meltdown today in Culver City. The breakfast and lunch grilled cheese specialty shop is open weekdays only, serving nearly two dozen different melts, from a “classic 3 cheese” on sourdough to “banana nut,” which is Nutella and banana on egg bread.
Meltdown, 9739 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 838-6358.