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A friendly hang in Silver Lake

RESTAURANT CRITIC

It’s been a long time coming, but Reservoir, the restaurant that has taken over the old Netty’s space just north of LA Mill Coffee Boutique on Silver Lake Boulevard -- has finally opened to the public. The landscaping still looks a little bare, but what a sweet little building, with its fresh coat of paint and wraparound windows. A minuscule patio out front with a handful of tables is framed by a low wall where you can sit and wait for a table.

Yes, I did say wait. The restaurant doesn’t take any reservations, and because the buzz for Reservoir has been so persistent and avid, there’s usually a small clutch of folks hoping for a seat at the bar or a table.

Chef-owner Gloria Felix has a following: She cooked at A.O.C., Lucques, Grace and Jar -- and she helped open Blair’s in Silver Lake.

She actually got hold of the space in late 2006, but construction went in fits and starts while she took a job as Gordon Ramsay’s sous chef on the reality TV show “Hell’s Kitchen.” Her partner Darren Roberts did some of the construction himself and now mans the front of the house from a tiny spot jammed in the corner.

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Space is tight. But Reservoir is quite the neighborhood scene. Friends run into one another at the eight-seat bar, push two tables together the better to talk, or adjourn to the patio for a smoke. The place is seriously tiny, just 42 seats inside (including those at the bar), with a cozy diner vibe.

After planning this restaurant for more than two years, Felix has gone with a familiar and user-friendly menu. Guess she’s had enough of all that wildly experimental cooking on “Hell’s Kitchen” and just wants to get back to basics.

She’s got pizza, but it’s not especially her strong suit. However, I did enjoy the oddball quince, chorizo and Asiago cheese topping, just not the crust. Salads seem almost retro in the enthusiastic use of balsamic vinegar. Spicy mussels with grilled ciabatta may be the best starter. That or the panko-fried shrimp folded into a slice of jicama like a baby taco.

She’s got a burger, of course, to nail her diner credentials. This one comes with the now obligatory caramelized onions that are part of the mystique of the burger at Father’s Office. Blue cheese too, of course. But I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best burgers even in the neighborhood.

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Main courses are limited to eight choices, and one of them is pan-seared marinated tofu.

But since you get to choose the setup, i.e. the sides and such, you get many more possible combinations.

Order the respectable skirt steak, say, with braised Tuscan kale, fingerling potatoes, baby yams and roasted heirloom tomatoes or the pan-seared chicken breast with Parmesan polenta with cipollini onions, English peas and sauteed chanterelles.

The whole place is relaxed and fun and so much a real neighborhood restaurant that you just might find yourself sharing wine or hiking tips with the couple at the next table, who could turn out to live up the street.

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virbila@latimes.com

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Reservoir

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Where: 1700 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles

When: Open 6 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Beer and wine. Valet parking

Price: Appetizers and salads, $10 to $16; pizza, $8 to $10; main plates, $14 to $32

Contact: (323) 662-8655; www.silverlakereservoir.com


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